A past prime min­is­ter’s re­flec­tions

Brian Mul­roney talks about his two terms lead­ing Canada, dur­ing book launch at X

The Casket - - Local - SAM MACDON­ALD sam­mac­don­ald@the­cas­ket.ca

The au­di­to­rium at the Ger­ald Schwartz School of Busi­ness at St. F.X. was near ca­pac­ity with stu­dents, fac­ulty and guests who par­tic­i­pated in a con­ver­sa­tion about the legacy and for­eign pol­icy achieve­ments of former two-time Cana­dian prime min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney.

Mul­roney shared anec­dotes about his past work as part of the of­fi­cial launch of a book on that sub­ject: Master of Per­sua­sion, Brian Mul­roney’s Global Legacy.

Top­ics of dis­cus­sion at the

Oct. 25 book launch ranged from ac­counts of his close work­ing re­la­tion­ships with past U.S. pres­i­dents and his gov­ern­ment’s tax re­form, to the for­eign pol­icy work he did to help free Nel­son Man­dela, un­der South Africa’s apartheid regime and his en­vi­ron­men­tal achieve­ments, like the Acid Rain Ac­cord air qual­ity agree­ment.

Mul­roney re­flected on a number of ques­tions about his po­lit­i­cal legacy from the author of the book, Fen Osler Hampson and the au­di­ence.

"What I learned while writ­ing the book is that Mr. Mul­roney was a team player," said author Fen Osler Hampson said, while in­tro­duc­ing his book and the man it is about. "He built a team that had to get it done, and that re­quires real lead­er­ship… it’s about not win­ning pop­u­lar­ity con­tests, but do­ing the right thing."

South Africa

One per­son in the au­di­ence was so proud of Mul­roney’s past achieve­ments in South Africa, that she lit­er­ally sang his praises. To hon­our the work Mul­roney’s gov­ern­ment did to pres­sure the apartheid gov­ern­ment of South Africa to re­lease Nel­son Man­dela from prison, Coady In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute So­cial Jus­tice Chair Sadi Mot­suenyane, a na­tive of South Africa, stood and sang a verse from the coun­try’s na­tional an­them – a ges­ture that re­sulted in the rest of the au­di­ence stand­ing and ap­plaud­ing her.

"Thank you for what you have done for us, hav­ing con­trib­uted that much to the fall of apartheid. I think you have cher­ished the dream of Nel­son Man­dela," Mot­suenyane said.

"I re­gret that we have only met to­day, be­cause if I were still prime min­is­ter I would rec­om­mend your at­ti­tude, singing so beau­ti­fully, be adopted in the House of Com­mons, be­fore they get to ask you a ques­tion," Mul­roney quipped, to the mer­ri­ment of the au­di­ence.mul­roney said he de­cided to sup­port Man­dela, "be­cause no­body else would. The Brits said no, the Amer­i­cans said no, and I said yes on be­half of Canada."

Af­ter see­ing in­ac­tion on the part of pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments, Mul­roney said he re­solved to cam­paign un­til Man­dela’s re­lease.

"The morn­ing I got a call from the prime min­is­ter’s switch board in Ot­tawa, and they said, ‘there’s a man on the phone who says he’s Nel­son Man­dela,’ " Mul­roney said. "I said ’Yeah, that’s my friends from Baie Comeau try­ing to have fun at my ex­pense.’"

The phone call, as it turned out, was Man­dela per­son­ally call­ing Mul­roney to thank him – one of many vivid mem­o­ries Mul­roney shared about his busy two terms as prime min­is­ter.

Mot­suenyane asked Mul­roney what sort of fu­ture he could see for South Africa, given the elec­tion of its new pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphossa, a politi­cian she de­scribed as be­ing a busi­ness man – an ap­pel­la­tion also as­so­ci­ated with Mul­roney’s style of gov­er­nance.

Mul­roney said he "has great con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of South Africa," but that there needs to be strong pub­lic pol­icy and lead­ers who aren’t afraid to be un­pop­u­lar.

"They have a strong pres­i­dent who has ab­so­lute con­trol over the ANC, and has a strong ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment. I think the line from the Old Tes­ta­ment could never be more true: young men have vi­sion and old men have dreams. Great na­tions need a com­bi­na­tion of both vi­sions and dreams – and you’ve got them," Mul­roney said.

"You’ve got Man­dela’s vi­sions, and you’ve got the dreams of a younger gen­er­a­tion.

Mul­roney added that he be­lieves Canada should play a stronger role in pro­vid­ing aid to South Africa, and that the coun­try needs more for­eign cap­i­tal to cre­ate wealth that can be dis­trib­uted to help cre­ate jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties for black South Africans. "I think Cyril can do that. He needs all the help he can get, start­ing with help from the States, which he’s not go­ing to get right now. There’s where Canada can step back in"

Trade Agree­ments

Given that ne­go­ti­a­tions on a new trade agree­ment be­tween Canada, the United States and Mex­ico has just been ap­proved, and the fact that Mul­roney played a role in ne­go­ti­at­ing both the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) and the agree­ment that came be­fore it, the Canada-united States Free Trade Agree­ment (CUSFTA), a great deal of the dis­cus­sion was de­voted to that sub­ject.

"I told Trudeau, ‘do you want to know how to deal suc­cess­fully?’ I’ve known Trump for 25 years, our kids our friends. I told Justin, ‘keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, pre­pare, pre­pare, pre­pare and never, un­der any cir­cum­stances take the bait of one of Don­ald’s tweets,’" Mul­roney said, adding that he ad­vised Trudeau that time is on his side, and that if the deal of­fered wasn’t good, to walk away.

Mul­roney said he be­lieved Canada did well ne­go­ti­at­ing the Canada-mex­ico-u.s. Trade Agree­ment, adding the Trudeau gov­ern­ment "han­dled this in a ma­ture and sig­nif­i­cant man­ner," re­tain­ing most of what was achieved 30 years ago.

"They did take a hit in other ar­eas. If you’re go­ing to have a tri­lat­eral agree­ment, ev­ery­one’s got to win some­thing and come out of it feel­ing good about it," Mul­roney noted. "Did we give up some things to get it? Sure, we did. The Amer­i­cans gave up some things, and the Mex­i­cans did as well. In some im­por­tant ar­eas, the deal is re­ally well done for Canada."

Mul­roney also re­flected on his own as­sertive ne­go­ti­a­tion tac­tics, in form­ing past trade agree­ments, re­call­ing how he pushed for in­de­pen­dent dis­pute res­o­lu­tion pro­vi­sions, and would of­ten take hard stances to achieve such mea­sures.

Mul­roney was asked by a guest if he saw prob­lems with a new Mex­i­can pres­i­dent-elect tak­ing over the trade deal, since the new trade agree­ment was signed by out­go­ing pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto.

"I don’t think there’s go­ing to be any real change. Obrador sent del­e­gates to join the ne­go­ti­at­ing team from Mex­ico. It was brought back and ap­proved by both the pres­i­dent and Obrador," Mul­roney said.

In­spi­ra­tiona

first-year stu­dent in the au­di­ence asked Mul­roney who the U.S. pres­i­dents he ad­mired the most are.

Mul­roney said he has worked with four pres­i­dents; worked in­ti­mately with three and known many on a very good ba­sis. He de­scribed Ron­ald Re­gan as a "re­mark­able leader," un­der­es­ti­mated, but also "one of the most pow­er­ful Amer­i­can lead­ers in the 20th cen­tury."

Mul­roney re­ferred to Ge­orge H.W. Bush as a "gen­tle­manly pro-cana­dian pres­i­dent, and Bill Clin­ton as "the most gifted politi­cian of his gen­er­a­tion," and "a de­light to work with." Mul­roney also praised Richard Nixon, a pres­i­dent who is known for his im­peach­ment, but was, by Mul­roney’s de­scrip­tion, some­one who worked hard, com­ing from hum­ble be­gin­nings, with a solid record on en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, a "for­eign pol­icy genius" and the pres­i­dent in whose term U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Vietnam war was ended.

Sam Macdon­ald

Brian Mul­roney, past two-time prime min­is­ter of Canada, and Sadi Mot­suenyane, so­cial jus­tice chair of the Coady In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute.

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