Prime ministers and presidents
Martin O'Malley and Justin Thompson, CBC News Online | November 22, 2003
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien got along swimmingly with United States President Bill Clinton they were golfing buddies but the latest dust-up in Prague when Françoise Ducros, one of Chrétien's top aides, allegedly called President George W. Bush "a moron," probably better reflects the relationships of our leaders over the years.
In his book The Presidents and the Prime Ministers, author Lawrence Martin mentions how John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, "would alienate all of Washington with displays of contempt for the presidents and their men." Indeed, the subtitle of Martin's book catches the true spirit of relations across the world's longest undefended border: Washington and Ottawa Face to Face: The Myth of Bilateral Bliss 1867-1982.
But it hasn't always been a litany of barbs and brickbats. In a 1961 speech to Parliament, President John F. Kennedy characterized the relationship between the U.S. and Canada as follows: "Geography has made us neighbours, history has made us friends, economics has made us partners, necessity has made us allies."
And over the years:
1962 Prime Minister John Diefenbaker on President John F. Kennedy: "He's a hothead. He's a fool too young, too brash, too inexperienced, and a boastful son of a bitch!"
Source: Government of Canada site
1965 at the height of the Vietnam War, Prime Minister Lester Pearson visited President Lyndon Johnson at the White House. Pearson gave a scathing speech one night about the war, then appeared at the White House the next day to confront a livid Johnson. As Martin describes it, LBJ grabbed Pearson by the shirt collar, lifted the prime minister off the floor and shouted, "You pissed on my rug!"
1969 Pierre Trudeau told the National Press Club in Ottawa that living next to the U.S. "�is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."
1971 When it was revealed that President Richard Nixon called Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau "an asshole" in his private tapes, Trudeau responded with, "I've been called worse things by better people."
1971 After Trudeau left a session with Nixon in the Oval Office, the president said to H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff: "That Trudeau, he's a clever son of a bitch." Then he said to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: "What in the Christ is he talking about?"
Trudeau so infuriated Nixon during the visit that Nixon called him "a pompous egghead" and told Haldeman: "You've got to put it to these people for kicking the U.S. around after what we did for that lousy son of a bitch. Give it to somebody around here." This was when Nixon ordered Haldeman to plant a negative story about Trudeau with columnist Jack Anderson.
1972 Nixon delivers a speech to the House of Commons: "While we do not have a wall between us, we have a great unguarded boundary. This does not mean that we are the same. This does not mean we do not have differences. But it does mean we have found a way to discuss differences in a friendly way without war."
1985 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Ronald Reagan sing to each other when the president visits Canada:
When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
At the turn of the millennium, it was reported that White House officials privately referred to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as "Dino" (short for dinosaur).
2000 George and Barbara Bush went to the wedding of Caroline Mulroney, daughter of Brian Mulroney in September 2000.
2001 Who can ever forget the perceived snub of Canada when President Bush, in a speech to Congress, thanked countries all over the world for standing with the United States in its fight against terror after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon? He did not mention Canada.
On Sept. 20, 2001, Bush told the world:
"On behalf of the American people I thank the world for its outpouring of support. America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America."
There was an uproar in Canada over the perceived snub. To put things in perspective, a top Chrétien aide was called upon to put a favourable spin on Bush's speech. The aide said: "If it is anything, it is an indication that our support goes without saying."
The aide's name was Françoise Ducros.