Preparing the Cabinet: Ottawa prepares for a new administration
Under Secretary Gotlieb to McGuigan “Memorandum to Cabinet on Canada-US Relations” December 11, 1980
Essentially an interim document on Canada-US relations pending further review in the spring of 1981, this Cabinet submission from McGuigan acknowledges Reagan’s past desire to consult with Canada (possibly referring to the 1974 meeting while Governor of California in Document 1) but acknowledges the challenges that his conservative outlook, and that emerging in the United States in general will mean for Canadian efforts to regulate the economy. By 1980 it became relatively rare for foreign policy issues to go before the whole Cabinet, and thus this submission attests to the centrality of the United States for Canada and to the perceived challenges of a US government led by Reagan, which were anticipated as being more ideological and nationalist than the last Republican administration of Gerald Ford, with whom Trudeau had had a surprisingly successful relationship This document anticipated trouble with the US over the recently unveiled National Energy program, environmental matters, and the potential economic repercussions of high defence spending accompanied by tax cuts. The document cautioned against excessive early criticism of Reagan, and advocated that Canadian diplomats in the United States be proactive in communicating Canadian positions, as well as favouring an early Trudeau-Reagan meeting.