When Brian Mulroney wanted Canada to be better known than its blizzards
'The American media has decided that Canada doesn't matter'
The way Brian Mulroney saw it, Canada wasn't getting its fair share of attention from the U.S. media — at least, aside from the coverage of Canadian winters.
"The American media has decided that Canada doesn't matter and we've been treated accordingly," Mulroney told a group of American newspaper executives at a Montreal-hosted convention on May 1, 1984.
"Canada is seldom deemed newsworthy in the United States of America. Thank God for blizzards or most Americans would never know we exist."
But the PC leader said the problem went beyond recognition. Mulroney argued this general lack of understanding of Canada made it harder for the two countries to resolve issues between one another.
"Apart from urging the publishers to wake up to Canadian affairs, Mulroney had some other proposals to improve relations," the CBC's David Halton told viewers on The National.
"He wants to establish permanent groups of experts in both Washington and Ottawa to solve bilateral problems before they get out of hand."
Tending to a 'vital relationship'
Mulroney said such an approach "should enable timely fact finding and sound expert analysis and improved early warning, which are the only things that can prevent our vital relationship from deterioration."
It seemed that some of the U.S. media was listening, as Mulroney's remarks did make it to the front section of the New York Times the next day — on page nine of the news section.
The paper also seemed to hint that the PC leader's push for greater attention on Canadian affairs had a ways to go, which perhaps went to Mulroney's point.
"Some 400 people attended Mr. Mulroney's speech, leaving about 600 empty seats," the Times noted in its report.
But as Canada headed closer to an election that year, the Times, at least, was paying attention to what was happening, politically, with its northern neighbour.
When Mulroney led the PCs to a commanding majority win at the polls that fall, the Times put the story on its front page.
His victory came at the expense of Prime Minister John Turner, who had taken the reins of the Liberal party leadership from Pierre Trudeau, who had decided to retire from politics.