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Presidential Visits: Bush, Mulroney 'do a little business'

He is the most important leader in the world. And even though the country may not always like what they hear, when the president of the United States comes to Ottawa, Canada listens. From Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, U.S. presidents have been given the honour of addressing Canada's Parliament. Sometimes their speeches draw warm ovations; others are met by catcalls and anger. But over time, each presidential message has been an important indicator of the goodwill — and the problems — facing these neighbours.

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Just three weeks after his 1989 inauguration, U.S. President George Bush comes to Ottawa for his first official visit since taking office. He and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney quickly strike up a solid rapport, which should be helpful; the two leaders have much to discuss in Bush's six-hour visit. Acid rain is on top of the agenda as the two countries seek to establish a plan to tackle the growing environmental threat. Meanwhile, first lady Barbara Bush discovers the Group of Seven and the president shows off his own grasp of Canadian culture: a little Texas-accented French.
• The U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendment in 1990, which added provisions for ozone protection and acid rain reduction to earlier versions of the Clean Air Act from 1963 and 1970. Bush's son would later champion looser restrictions on greenhouse gases with his proposed Clean Skies Act of 2002, but the act was never approved by Congress.

• As reporter Terry Milewski mentions in this clip, George H.W. Bush campaigned vociferously against tax hikes. "Read my lips: no new taxes!" was a resonating slogan from his campaign. He couldn't stick to his promise, though: facing a recession and deepening deficit, Bush faced the choice of either making cuts to social programs or raising taxes. He ended up doing the latter.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 10, 1989
Guest(s): James Baker, George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Brian Mulroney, Michael Perley, Debbie Sheiman
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: David Halton, Terry Milewski
Duration: 6:40

Last updated: February 10, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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