Mulroney scored another major coup for Canada when a different rookie American president, Bill Clinton, chose Canada, with our prime minister as host, as the site of his first summit meeting with then-Russian president Boris Yeltsin in 1993.
“If in the business world today cash is king,” the 18th prime minster concluded, “in the world of the Canada-U.S. relationship, access is worth its weight in gold. It is a privilege that Canada should never squander or surrender.”
Another prime minister who maximized Canada’s clout effectively, bilaterally and internationally, due to his close relationship with an American president, was Mackenzie King. King, who arguably knew America best – having lived in Chicago and Boston and earned a Harvard degree – formed an exceptionally close friendship with president Franklin Roosevelt.
“Shattering the traditions of (U.S.) detachment he saw King nineteen separate times,” wrote Canadian journalist Lawrence Martin in his seminal 1982 volume, The Presidents and the Prime Ministers. “Roosevelt ushered in the good-neighbour era of Canada-U.S. relations, a period which … lasted roughly from 1933 to 1959.”
As the dark clouds of an impending war gathered over Europe in 1938, Roosevelt even defied a large portion of U.S. public opinion and pledged to defend Canada should a foreign power ever attack our nation.
“The Dominion of Canada is part of the sisterhood of the British Empire,” FDR told thousands of cheering Canadians gathered at Kingston’s Queen’s University on Aug. 18, 1938. “I give to you assurance that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if the domination of Canada of Canadian soil is threatened by any other empire.”
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