Brian Mulroney, Ronald Reagan private chat uncovered

CBC Montreal’s Daybreak has uncovered a long-forgotten tape containing a private conversation between then Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s.

Then Canadian PM, U.S. president were chatting in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in 1985

The recording of a 1980s conversation between then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, left, and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, shown in March 17, 1985, at the Quebec City airport, has been obtained by CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

They were known for their warm relationship and their rendition of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, but what kind of conversations did Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan have in private?

CBC Montreal’s Daybreak has uncovered a long-forgotten tape in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library containing a private conversation between the world leaders in the 1980s.

This comes after another recording surfaced between Reagan and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Little was known about the Mulroney-Reagan tape when Daybreak received a copy. It was undated and labelled “Mulroney International Travel.”

Daybreak shared the tape with University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) Prof. Greg Robinson, who specializes in 20th-century American history.

Robinson was able to place the tape sometime after Mulroney attended a Commonwealth meeting in Jamaica in February 1985, but before the now-iconic Shamrock summit that was held in Quebec City in March 1985.

The tape conversations open up with a friendly exchange before moving on to the poor financial state of the Caribbean Commonwealth, including Jamaica. Mulroney tries to convince Reagan to support his bid to get debt relief for those Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

Greg Robinson, a U.S. history professor at UQAM, says the old tape reveals that then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney were friends. (Émilie Tournevache/UQÀM)
“They’re already friends  they’re already on a first-name basis. There’s obviously already a level of comfort even though they’ve only been together once,” said Robinson, adding it was a level of comfort Reagan was never able to achieve with Mulroney’s predecessor, Pierre Trudeau.

CBC's Daybreak Montreal has uncovered this tape of a private conversation the two world leaders had in 1985 in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. 6:06

Listen to the full tape of the world leaders' private conversation by clicking above. (Please be advised that the audio is distorted and will get loud towards the second half.)

Read the transcript:

RR: Hi Brian.

BM: Good morning Ron. How are you?

RR: Just fine.

BM: Nice to talk to you.

RR: Well it's good to talk to you and looking forward to seeing you.

M: Well I wish we were in Quebec City ... but ... [laughs]

RR: Yeah, we're both a long ways away from home.

BM: We are indeed. How are you doing?

RR: Well I've been pretty good. I'm pleased to be able to tell you that, in answer to your request, we are liberalizing our oil exports to Canada. You asked about that ... so we made a quick turnaround on that one. Now I understand you want to talk to me about something?

BM: Well, I uh, I'm just really concerned Ron with [inaudible, but mentions the "monetary fund"].

RR: No, I can tell you Brian, that's a fixture of these summit conferences, there's little problems with him.

BM: I see ...

RR: So we'll probably see ourselves dealing with those. [Inaudible]. We want to go for the '86 trade rounds that we talked about. And since Williamsburg for two years we've had discussions, meetings going on about monetary things and they're not due to report until June. [inaudible] And it's not that the two should go together; you can't link those two things — again on the basis of that report. We'll see if this warrants, maybe on the recommendation of [inaudible] meeting. We'd be very happy to have such a meeting under these circumstance.

M: Ron, [inaudible]?

RR: No, I couldn't get any more specific than that ... we just need to finalize what it is [inaudible].

BM: One point that I wanted [inaudible] is Jamaica. I was down there for the Commonwealth. [inaudible] The United States and Canada have been large suppliers of aid. What if [inaudible] the IMF and the World Bank ... [Inaudible] ... if they were given a better opportunity of credit  and loans and so on. [Inaudible] could lead to new opportunities. [Inaudible] the poorer Commonwealth, all of them are important. They're not saying, ‘Give us more aid.’ They're saying, ‘Give us better terms of credit so we can [inaudible] our own way.’ I'm going to be talking about that and I hope that I might find your [inaudible].

RR: [Inaudible] right now...

BM: [inaudible] ... because you saw what happened with the prime minister of Grenada. [inaudible] And they say, ‘These guys, they're not us. [inaudible] we're the poorest of the very poor.’ That's got to be the beginning of [inaudible] from the IMF and the World Bank. [Inaudible]. This is our own backyard, our hemisphere.   

RR: Yeah.

BM: And...[inaudible]



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