As the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, he developed a close relationship with U.S President Ronald Regan; both men shared a similar conservative philosophy. As Canada’s Prime Minister, Mulroney sought closer ties with the United States, on issues such as trade policies and North American Aerospace Defence Command system (NORAD). During the Mulroney era, Canada saw drastic changes in economy and foreign policies; at the same time Canada gained closer ties with the United States during his time in office.
Some of his notable actions during his time in office include the involvement of Canada in the SDI and NORAD during the Cold War; furthermore, Mulroney made Canada part of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. It is evident that some of Brian Mulroney’s decisions during his time as Prime Minister are somewhat controversial; however, there is no denial that Mulroney had brought Canada to a closer cooperation with the United States, “becoming the first Prime Minister of Canada who did not see United States as a threat to Canadian nationhood.”
One general concern for Canada during the election year of 1984 was that many Canadians wanted Mulroney to achieve harmony between Canada and United States. At the “Shamrock Summit” of 1985 in Quebec City, Mulroney and his wife Mila Mulroney joined U.S President Ronald Reagan in singing “When Irish Eyes are smiling.” It was meant to symbolize a new era of Canadian- American harmony after years of liberal prickliness. However, many Canadians were reticent with the direction Mulroney was leading this country, as many believed Mulroney was immensely pro-American.
Back in 1973, the government under the control of Pierre Trudeau had formed the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA); its purpose was to block any foreign investment seemed not to be in Canada’s interest. As Mulroney came to office in 1985, he dismantled the FIRA and replaced it with Investment Canada, a new system which he believed would encourage suitable foreign investment. FIRA was criticized by those who concerned about American economic influence, since it almost approved every application it received. At the time, in some industries, such as the petroleum and rubber products industries, foreign control exceeded ninety per cent. Over three-fourths of this control was held by United Sates investors.6 These new and old policies brought better and higher rate of business income between Canada and the United Sates, which resulted in closer ties between the two countries.
In 1987, Mulroney opened up negotiations that would eventually lead to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Canada and United States. The FTA was signed on October 4th, 1987 in hopes of improving trade transactions between the two countries (see fig2).
Fig. 2. President Ronald Reagan (left) signing the FTA with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (right)7
In the FTA, all tariffs on goods crossing the border were removed, and at the same time, opened Canada to U.S investment and vice versa. As suspected, the free trade issue was highly controversial among Canadians. Some Canadian businesses could not compete against U.S corporations, for these corporations were able to flood the Canadian market with cheap goods and services, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Canada. However, there was no denial that by eliminating tariffs, Canada would attract more U.S. investment. This helped Canadian industry grow and benefit the whole economy. Furthermore, free trade also allowed access to the larger U.S market, which would increase Canada’s productivity and growth.
During the cold war era, In order to defend North America against possible enemy attacks, Canada agreed to join the NORAD system, a joint air-defence system that would overlook soviet bombers in case of long distance attacks.
On 19 March 1986, Mulroney and Regan sign the NORAD renewal agreement (see fig3);
Fig. 3. Brian Mulroney (left) discussing the agreement with Michael Wilson (right) in the PM’s office in 19858
it officially became effective on 12 may 1986. This is not only a sign of military cooperation, but at the same time it shows Canada’s commitment in supporting Unites States during the Cold War. As Canada slowing became more involved during the cold war, this was sign that Canada had slowly risen up in terms of political and military stability on an international level.9 Furthermore Mulroney and successfully pulled in United States as one of Canada’s ally years to come; Mulroney not only connect Canada and U.S through controls of economy, but his wartime actions had also proved this close tie Canada and U.S had gained during Mulroney’s time in office.
In retrospect, it is indisputable Mulroney’s time as the Prime Minister of Canada had linked Canada and Untied States as close ally for generations to come. Connecting the two countries through reformation of economy and involvement in the Cold War; it is clear, despite the fact Canadians believed Mulroney was pro-American, the undeniable fact that he’s policies regarding the economy of Canada not only brought greater transaction between the two countries, at the same time it brought hundreds of thousands of people out of unemployment.10 Furthermore, his signing of multiple agreements such as the NORAD agreements during the cold war with U.S brought military cooperation between two nations brought new heights in collegial ties. As an respected international figure, one probably more at ease abroad than at home, his government’s policies and prospects were the cornerstones of Canada and United States close ties in 1980s, his actions brought close international relationship between the two nations for years to come.
7th Floor Media. “The Prime Ministers of Canada – Brian Mulroney Issues.” The Prime Ministers of Canada – Brian Mulroney Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July
Badeaux, Guy , Mike Duffy, and Charles Gordon. Portfoolio ’88: the year in Canadian caricature. Montréal: Eden Press, 1988. Print.
Bothwell, Robert, Ian M. Drummond, and John English. Canada since 1945: power, politics, and provincialism. Rev. ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989. Print. Brennan, Richard. “Good U.S. relations worth ‘weight in gold,’ Mulroney says | Toronto Star.” thestar.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2014.