Monday, September 05, 2022

With The Passage Of Time

Thirty years ago, Brian Mulroney was looking at the worst defeat in political history. His chosen successor, Kim Campbell, had won just two seats in the House of Commons. Anthony Wilson Smith writes:

So, when an invitation to lunch came from his friend, the Quebec Inc. titan Paul Desmarais, Mulroney was especially appreciative. Over several hours in the elegant private dining room in the headquarters of Power Corporation on Victoria Square, he listened as Desmarais – the founder of the company and an extraordinarily cultured man with a deep knowledge of history – talked about the need for the former prime minister to allow time and perspective for his achievements to be evaluated in their historical context. What he needed to do, Mulroney vividly recalls Desmarais saying, was to “let the garden grow”; the famous moral of Voltaire’s Candide — “cultiver son jardin” — on the value of narrowing one’s focus to immediate problems that can be resolved constructively.

Mulroney has taken Desmarais's and Voltaire's advice:

Twenty-nine years after leaving office, the key elements of Mulroney’s legacy – including free trade with the United States; the introduction of a federal goods and services tax; early, visionary steps on environmental issues and human rights initiatives – are so entrenched that they’re largely taken for granted. In Quebec, Mulroney is revered even by nationalists (for instance, he has been chair of Québecor Media, owned by the sovereigntist Péladeau family, for many years). Far from being attacked by the federal Liberals, they now, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seek his advice on key issues — including the time he briefed the federal cabinet during the highly sensitive NAFTA renegotiation with the Trump administration.

I was never a fan of Mulroney's. I never voted for him. But with the passage of time, some legacies begin to look pretty good.

Image: Adam Scotti 


Owen Gray said...

Please initial your comment, Anon, and I'll publish it.

Anonymous said...

The continued burnishing of Mr. Mulroney's legacy goes forward full speed.

I guess within an article such as Mr. Anthony Wilson-Smith's is no place to mention Karlheinz Schreiber.


Owen Gray said...

You'll note that Mulroney has a very upmarket retirement home, CSJ. Brian always knew where the money was.

John B. said...

The CUSFTA was just a vehicle that the US Chamber used to lull Americans into an erroneous anticipation that the deal with Mexico, that had been put on hold while the theatrics with Canada were taking place, would be relatively harmless to the stake of labour in America’s industrial economy. The ink on the Canada deal wasn’t dry when the more important talks with the Mexicans resumed in high gear, leaving Brian and his Liberal successors begging to be a part of them. Welcome to the world of wage arbitrage. I guess Brian never read the right trade and industry journals, so he never heard of it. The rest is history and, irrespective of what this guy has to say, that history doesn’t give me any nice feelings about the Mulroney creature. He must have got his retrospect in a box of Cracker Jacks.

Trailblazer said...

Blogger Owen Gray said...
You'll note ..

And so do I !
The traffic around 'progressive' websites is at a low.
We have comments not conversations.

Did critical thinking die at the age of 60 ??
OR did critical thinking die with social media?


Owen Gray said...

I expected to get blowback on this one, John. I'm not happy with the world neoliberalism created. But. because Canada is not a mover and shaker, the only option we have had is to try and find a workable place in it.

John B. said...

My apologies in advance for adding more blowback, Owen.

I don’t think we were getting with the programme, so to speak; rather, we were facilitating the achievement of its goals by helping to create conditions necessary for succeeding stages of the project to occur. Under Mulroney Canada was an active player in the pitch that was used to finish what the Washington Consensus had started. The CUSFTA was an essential element in selling the unbalanced deals that followed it to a naïve American public. Without it, there might have been more resistance to the NAFTA, without the NAFTA, the China Normalization Project for permanent MFN status would have stalled. What we got was the triumph of the Lying Libertarian Economists. Until the ratifications of the NAFTA, whether that triumph would have occurred was in doubt. All in my opinion.

Owen Gray said...

I have to agree that NAFTA was the triumph of neo-liberal economics, John. Mulroney took the position that if you can't beat them, then join them. That's a sad outcome. I wonder, though, if it was -- for Canada -- inevitable.