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Mulroney, a relationship affair

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Brian Mulroney, as he arrives to deliver a speech at a conference organized by the University of Ottawa Professional Development Institute and the Canada School of Public Service, in Ottawa, March 5, 2019

The duty

March 1, 2024

  • Canada

It was in 2002. The ceremony was to be solemn and free of hiccups. However, when Brian Mulroney goes on stage while his portrait is unveiled, which would sit in the corridors of Parliament in Ottawa, a demonstrator manages to slip behind him and wave a small flag for a long time above his head. of the United States before someone — a senator — pulled himself together and intercepted the prankster. The image was intended to be strong: to denounce Brian Mulroney's excessive promiscuity with the American government. But the Prime Minister's friendship with the President will also have served Canada well.

When Brian Mulroney came to power, Republican Ronald Reagan occupied the White House. Very quickly, the two men of Irish origins found themselves on the same page. Their friendship was immortalized during a Canadian-American summit held in Quebec in 1985, at the end of which the two men in tuxedos, accompanied by their wives, took the stage to sing together When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . At this summit, the foundations for a future free trade agreement are laid.

This agreement will tear Canada apart and will be at the heart of the 1988 election campaign. Liberals and New Democrats oppose it. A liberal advertisement captures the imagination by showing an image of the North American continent on which the Canadian-American border disappears. The Progressive Conservatives are returned to power, even though they get fewer votes (43%) than those opposed to free trade combined (53%). The agreement came into force in 1989.

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This great friendship allowed Canada to obtain recognition from the Reagan government that the Northwest Passage is not located in international waters. The United States agrees to seek permission from Canada before sending icebreakers there. Likewise, the good relations between Ottawa and Washington allowed Brian Mulroney to obtain an agreement on acid rain in 1991, after several years of representation. The two countries are committed to reducing their SO2 and NOx emissions which contribute to acidifying lakes mainly located in Eastern Canada.

Brian Mulroney nevertheless maintains his independence from his neighboring giant. He was also the first Commonwealth leader to impose economic sanctions in 1985 against South Africa, where apartheid prevailed. At this time, the United States was reluctant to do so, as was Margaret Thatcher's Great Britain, who calculated that the measure would especially harm young black people. Brian Mulroney will also be personally thanked by Nelson Mandela.

Canada also maintains a distinct approach to welcoming refugees from Central American countries shaken by civil conflicts. As many of these authoritarian regimes are under the control of the United States, they are not considered by Washington as producing refugees. Canada recognizes that people fleeing these regimes need protection. A moratorium on the deportation of Guatemalans and Salvadorans who entered Canada illegally is also established. That said, Mr. Mulroney's regime was not considered very favorable to migrants. Refugee defense organizations still deplore today that this government has often used refugees as scarecrows to score political points.

A matter of contacts

Brian Mulroney believed that it was by maintaining a strong personal relationship with the American president that Canada could assert its interests. In general, he made it his duty to maintain his relationships and position himself to gravitate in the circle of the greats of this world. His youthful relationships are a real “who’s who” of politics and influential circles of the late 20th century. Robert Bourassa, Lucien Bouchard, Daniel Johnson, Joe Clark will all have crossed his path in the same way as Ted Rogers or Paul Desmarais. The latter became a friend when, still a lawyer, Brian Mulroney helped put an end to the strike at La Presse.

Mulroney, a relationship affair

Photo: Mike Sprague Agence France-Presse Brian Mulroney (left), then Prime Minister of Canada, with then-US Vice President George Bush, April 28, 1988

He took great pride in his prestigious knowledge and never missed an opportunity to flaunt it. Again in December 2016, when he received the insignia of commander of the French Legion of Honor, he reminded journalists of his relationships with François Mitterrand, Laurent Fabius and Ronald Reagan. He did not fail to specify that he had known the new president-elect Donald Trump for 20 years, “both in New York and in Palm Beach”, and that he saw him as a “gentleman”. He then invited Justin Trudeau to use his charms to get closer to Mr. Trump.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116