Mr. E Vanee
Social Studies 11
18 July 2014
Brian Mulroney tied Canada closer to the United States
On September 17th, 1984 Martin Brian Mulroney became the 18th Prime Minister of Canada (see fig1).
Fig. 1. Brian Mulroney’s first year in office (1984), he led the first conservative majority government in 26 years.1
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.”2
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.”3 It was meant to symbolize a new era of Canadian- American harmony after years of liberal prickliness.4 However, many Canadians were reticent with the direction Mulroney was leading this country, as many believed Mulroney was immensely pro-American.5 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...
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