September 24, 1984
The new prime minister arrives in Washington on his first visit in that capacity at 10:30 tonight. I came home in the early evening, exhausted from an empty day of running around from place to place during the World Bank/imf meetings, attending a long luncheon given by Bill Mulholland in Georgetown and more than a few diplomatic receptions. I collapsed in front of the television, and both Sondra and I became very engrossed in an old movie, The Thomas Crown Aff
air. We got so caught up in it that we shaved our departure from the Residence a little too thinly. Jacques Helie had to drive like a bat out of hell to get us to Andrews on time. Due to unexpected traffic, he even had to put on his siren a few times, which he enjoyed quite a bit. We drove up onto the tarmac at Andrews just after the pm’s plane had touched down. I think they waited a minute before the door of the craft was opened. We arrived just at that very moment.
As we rushed up, Lucky Roosevelt, the chief of protocol, was waving frantically at us and shouting, “Hurry, hurry, we didn’t know what happened to you. You almost missed the arrival.” Indeed we did — we had only seconds to spare. What a grand start that would have made in my relations with the new government.
I drove into town with Mulroney and went up to his suite in the Madison. The prime minister was in buoyant spirits, to say the least. Before we got into any substance, he talked about Joe Clark, who had been against his coming to Washington so soon after the election. He argued against Mulroney’s accepting the president’s invitation on grounds of unseemliness. Mulroney talked scornfully of this advice. Didn’t he just win an election with a platform of “refurbishing” relations with the United States?
I have had several reports of the department advising against this visit. Sometimes I fear that the only bedrock policy of the officials of External Affairs is to differentiate ourselves from the Americans. Differentiation is all right if it results from legitimate policies but is not acceptable if it is the justification for developing our own. If we build our foreign policy on the basis of differentiation, we’re going to have a foreign policy that is sometimes perverse and sometimes immoral. Worse than that, we will have a foreign policy that runs counter to Canadian national interests. To borrow a phrase from the Russians when they attack the West in the un, these people in External behave like they are “divorced from reality.”
Bravo to Mulroney for following his own instincts. A leader in command.
September 25, 1984
I briefed the pm in his suite at the Madison this morning, and at 11 a.m. we left for the White House in a motorcade, with two big Canadian flags flying on either side of the hood. At noon we proceeded to the president’s private dining room, where an intimate lunch with four on each side took place (Mulroney, Doucet, Burney, and myself being the Canadian team). We sat below the beautiful John Singer Sargent that dominates the room. As for the conversation, well, it was jokes, jokes, and more jokes. Reagan was amiability itself. The purpose of the function was for them to get acquainted. They certainly got to know each other’s current repertoire of jokes. By 1:10 p.m. we were out of the White House and onto the helipad. Handshakes from the farewell committee, headed by acting Secretary of State Ken Dam (this time he didn’t forget) and on to Andrews for a 3 p.m. departure.
These two Irishmen are going to get along like blazes. There is a special rapport between them, the rapport of two men who are not intellectuals but who are optimistic and confident, good communicators and fine storytellers, and very pro-business. The contrast with the Trudeau visit is stunning. There was no tension whatsoever. As events go, this was a non-event. Yet it was profoundly significant. They established a very special relationship.
The prime minister was scrummed at the airport by the Canadian press. He was asked about my future. He announced that he informed the president that he has asked me to stay on in my post. He did.
September 26, 1984
I wake up at dawn, anxious to start the day. I feel like calling a press conference, inviting all my critics and detractors and those who have scored me high on the Tory hit list. I will announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, my second term begins today.”
September 27, 1984
Lunch with Jeffrey Simpson at the Metropolitan Club. We discussed the new government off the record. Simpson went on at length about how he expects Joe Clark to be a great pillar of strength and stability in cabinet, the rock on whom Mulroney will rely. It was as if the Joe Clark he was talking about was not the same Joe Clark who was prime minister from 1979 to 1980.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Washington Diaries by Allan Gotlieb. Copyright © 2006 by Allan Gotlieb. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.