A man and a world in need

Trudeau's summit vision was all goodness and mercy—but reality looms

Robert Lewis July 6 1981

A man and a world in need

Trudeau's summit vision was all goodness and mercy—but reality looms

Robert Lewis July 6 1981

A man and a world in need


Trudeau's summit vision was all goodness and mercy—but reality looms

Robert Lewis

It took a crew of 800 workers only four months to build the towering lodge at Montebello, Que., in 1930. Such was the rush that some plans were even drawn up after parts of the structure were completed. The history of the construction—to say nothing of the exclusive private club’s slipping into commercial hands in 1971—serves as an appropriate metaphor for the Ottawa summit, which opens at the Château Montebello in a fortnight. The leaders of the seven largest industrial countries desperately want their club to erect a monument of accomplishment. But so far—and despite Pierre Trudeau’s four-day foray through Europe last week—there are no blueprints. Instead, the PM accuses the media, in effect, of having an edifice complex. During a London news conference at week’s end he playfully suggested that there will be only one headline from Ottawa: LEADERS HAVE


The clever attempt to reduce expectations was the surest sign that Trudeau

is preparing for the worst. He started out with the vision of presiding over a session in which wealthy nations from the north of the globe (typical yearly incomes of $8,000) would move forcefully to share their wealth and power

with the poorest of the south (per-capita incomes as low as $200 a year). But after 19 separate trips to various capitals in both worlds since last summer, Trudeau has been reduced to saying that the summit will be a success if the leaders get to know each other better. As if by way of insurance, he forecasts “a difficult summit, without any assurance of success.”

To be sure, Trudeau has a point when he notes that going to Ottawa simply to get along would be a significant accomplishment for a group with five new members since last summer in Venice.* With harmony on his mind, Trudeau is cutting no corners in an attempt to orchestrate an informal atmosphere of intimacy (see box, page 18). But the big-

*They are: François Mitterrand (France), Giovanni Spadolini (Italy), Zenko Suzuki

(Japan), Ronald Reagan (United States) and Gaston Thorn (European Community). Helmut Schmidt of West Germany has attended all seven. Pierre Trudeau has been at six. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher is making her third appearance.

gest players may be too set in their ways to distill substantial accord from a cauldron of contention. Never in the past six years of economic summitry have members seemed so much at odds on so many fronts. Instead of a tower, they may erect a house of cards.

The Europeans, for example, are simmering about heavy imports of Japanese cars and other commodities, a grievance the Pacific economic power has rejected; the Europeans are also steaming about Ronald Reagan’s role as enforcer of the cold war at a time when the fires of pacificism are aflame in their nations (crowds of 70,000, the largest since the 1960s, have demonstrated in West Germany about Helmut Schmidt’s commitment to NATO’s plan to increase theatre nuclear weapons in Europe, a stand Schmidt backed with a threat to resign if his party dissidents didn’t back him). The Europeans are in a complete boil, too, about Reaganomics, which Schmidt charges is pushing continental interest rates to unacceptablelevels. Reagan,in turn,suspects that his European allies are going soft on the Soviets, especially now that François Mitterrand has included four Communists in his cabinet (see page 29). Washington has opted out of talking about

Care and feeding of the eight

The special consignment of Jellie Bellies has been stowed in the lodge at Le Château Montebello for Ronald Reagan’s pleasure. The deliveries of new beds, drapes, emergency supplies of blood and special dietary food are on the way. Workmen are hammering on a new roof and outfitting the main conference room with air conditioning. In Ottawa, no stone—or skirt— has been left unturned. The vacant lot opposite Parliament Hill, where the Rideau Club stood before the fire in 1979, has been converted into a brick courtyard patio. A secretary standing in for Margaret Thatcher has even made a test exit from a helicopter on the Hill lawn—just to prove that wind currents will displace neither hair nor hem.

At a cost of at least $7 million,* the two main venues for the Ottawa economic summit July 20-21 are nearly ready—more ready, in fact, than are the participants. Although the prospects for an accord of substance are dim, organizers have spared nothing in orchestrating at least an ambience of bonhomie. The secret, in effect, is secrecy.

Pierre Trudeau has willed that the talking will take place, as he puts it, “in the sticks” while more than 1,300 members of the world’s press will be con-

*Salaries of civil servants and police not included.

signed to “the fleshpots of Ottawa, 66 km to the west. The leaders of democratic world will talk only to each other, emerging at the end to prepared statements from the main stage of the National Arts Centre. Because of newly heightened concerns about crackpots and shots, a fleet of special Chevrolets will drive players the few blocks to their curtain call. Last week Mounties and Ottawa cops ran through a simulated hostage-taking at Rockcliffe military base.

As soon as the delegations land in the

capital Sunday—their arrivals will be staggered between 10 «.m. and 5 p.m.— they will be choppered to a new landing pad outside the biggest log house in the world, the imposing 200-room château constructed of B.C. cedar in 1930. There, behind maximum security fashioned by the RCMP through which only the château’s mascot chipmunk, Arthur, can pass undetected, the eight principals and top officials will have two working sessions and three meals. CP Hotels has imported six chefs, one adept at whipping up Japanese delicacies, and will keep a bar and restaurant open

around the clock. Those who prefer the outdoors can play tennis, ride horses, pitch horseshoes, shoot arrows or swim & in two pools, one indoors. They can even 8 go fishing in the 60 lakes dotting the i 65,000-acre preserve, part of the old seigneury once owned by Quebec patriote rebellion leader Louis Joseph Papineau.

When the sun sets on the sessions at Montebello the leaders will fly into a second security ring Tuesday morning inside the newly renovated East Block. The 1867 structure was being done over anyway, at a cost of $14.8 million. François Mitterrand of France will work out of Sir John A. Macdonald’s office, restored to its original state and including the first PM’S desk and a likeness of Queen Victoria glaring down from a perch above the door. Reagan will sit at the desk of the first governor-general, Sir Charles Stanley Monck, and will

limits on weapons until it can fuel a military buildup in nations supporting the American way. But Reagan is running into resistance—from the Japanese, who think he is pressing them too hard to spend more on defence, and from the Mexicans, who will not join Washington’s new Caribbean initiative if it means bashing Cuba and other nations where the Mexicans believe revolutionary fervor arises from poverty, not Soviet agitation.

The seven summiteers also are split on broad ideological lines. The most vivid contrast is between two of the newest faces: Mitterrand, the lifelong socialist, and Reagan, the unabashed free enterpriser. While the French president prepares a program of nationalization and new taxes on wealth—he may not take up Trudeau’s invitation to stay on for a post-summit Canadian visit to get on with the plans at home— Reagan is steaming ahead with deregulation and concessions to corporate America. As for host Trudeau, he has studiously avoided any bitching in public or private. But he surely knows that

the shape of the edifice to come does not loom as a hothouse for his cherished North-South seedlings. The cutting edge of Trudeau’s attempt to recycle wealth to the poor is the United Nations effort to achieve a new law of the sea treaty. Yet Canada finds that several summit allies, led by the Americans, are ditching an agreement on undersea mining for a policy that favors private companies (see box, page 21).

While Trudeau ducked inquiries last week about his batting average, in truth he went one for three in his attempt to recruit support on two other key NorthSouth issues: special negotiations at the UN in which all member states would try to agree on a plethora of proposals to boost the fortunes of the poor countries, and establishment of a new World Bank lending wicket to fund exploration for energy in the lands of want. After swapping yarns with Trudeau about their separate stints as students of political science in Paris, and after assuring Trudeau that France would not cause Ottawa problems in Quebec, Mitterrand promptly embraced global ne-

gotiations and the energy affiliate. In that, Mitterrand joins Japan, Italy and most members of the European Community. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, however, is on the other side of the Channel on the two proposals. Through the lens of the free enterpriser, she views global talks at the UN and the energy wicket as more unnecessary bureaucracy. In that stance, she is joined by Reagan, who prefers to see commercial banks do the dealing, not governments.

Schmidt, whose predecessor, Willy Brandt, is the architect of the two proposals, wants to postpone North-South issues until a special conference of rich and poor countries is convened in Mexico this fall. Schmidt is also holding out against pressure to increase German aid programs and at a recent private meeting defended his foreign aid record and heatedly argued that the economy will not permit any major expansion. Privately, senior aides to Schmidt pointed out to German reporters that Canada’s own aid-giving record leaves something to be desired: in a report released last week, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that last year Canada’s development assistance

have a view of the Peace Tower clock that, because of repairs, is stopped at high noon. Helmut Schmidt of West Germany can reflect on the work habits of Sir George Etienne Cartier. Thatcher, meanwhile, is around the corner and down the hall in digs with no history. They were simply vacated by Senator Harry Hays, whose patronizing during televised constitutional hearings so outraged Canadian women. But Thatcher need not feel neglected: a separate lounge and washroom have been constructed for her. The most striking feature is a 114-year-old wall of stone, off the main conference room, uncovered during reconstruction.

The man responsible for making the logistics work is Derek Burney, 41, who was called back early from Seoul, where he had been the Canadian ambassador. These days Burney contemplates a nine-metre wall chart on some 300 dif-

ferent summit functions. There are interpreters to hire for the leaders who need translation at meals. There is the shuttle bus for the press to run between Ottawa and Montebello—and, this week, a decision to be faced on the route: the drive down the Quebec side of the Ottawa River runs through the tacky urban sprawl of Gatineau and inelegant mill towns in the country; the less cluttered Ontario route, ending at Cumberland, requires a ferry ride to the lodge.

Burney got some relief from his biggest headache last week when CTV agreed to assume the role as host broadcaster. The CBC backed out because a six-week-long strike by English network technicians threatened to shut down satellite feeds to the outside world of the few photo opportunities. But CTV technicians are members of the same union, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians,

and a union spokesman ominously described planned CTV participation as “strike-breaking,” leading to assumptions among jumpy government aides that there could be foul-ups.

The computer printouts also flag other decisions still to be made: Trudeau has not yet approved the menus, although no one would be surprised by at least one round of arctic char and New Brunswick fiddleheads. Although 10 circulars aimed at eliciting personal tastes have made the rounds of the delegations, there have been few special requests so far. The Japanese did provide a detailed plan for placement of furniture in their suite of offices and, methodical to the end, an advance party measured and photographed every chair that Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki will occupy.

If they can’t agree on inflation and the North-South dialogue, summiteers at least can concur that their jobs are not getting any easier. With scandals, unwieldy coalitions, inflation and unemployment, their visit to the handsomely restored cabinet room in the East Block will be a walk back into an age of comparative simplicity—at the head of the table there is a spacious chair, taller than all the rest, and a mere 13 seats for the subordinates. A century later the summiteers will arrive with a combined total of 800 advisers, none with any hard answers. It’s enough to make a man fall off his chair or a lady beat her head against the wall. — R.L.

was the lowest since 1973—at 0.42 per cent of the gross national product, against a goal of 0.7 per cent. Germany, meanwhile, has risen to 0.43. Canada now stands eighth among 17 OECD nations and third among the summit seven after France and Germany.

Trudeau is convinced that the summit leaders have to give the whole NorthSouth issue a positive pitch forward, to keep momentum rolling into the Melbourne Commonwealth Conference and the session in Mexico next fall. But he may, in turn, find himself on the defensive. In fact, there are rumblings from Europe that this may be the last such summit. Intriguingly, Schmidt aides were dropping hints in Bonn last week that Canada itself could be excluded from the next round—as France’s ^haughty Valéry Giscard d’Estaing did ^when he organized the first summit in As a gracious and considerate “host, with effective control of the mass umedia back in Ottawa, Trudeau may

well be able to cloak the disputatious partners in a garment of silk on the North-South cause come summit’s end. He also has been sending out signals that he believes long-range economic strategies should get the prime billing—“the top problem,” as External Affairs Minister Mark MacGuigan put it over lunch with reporters in Ottawa last week.

Trudeau also knows that he will have to allow Reagan to lead an extensive

discussion about East-West relations, in particular his case that military might has to precede resumed arms limitations talks with the Soviets. With Afghanistan and Poland very much on his mind, Reagan is anxious for a stern summit stance against the U.S.S.R. Although the president himself has been surprisingly vague in his public utterances, perhaps due to his recuperation period, state department officials have been dispatched to carry his message. Assistant secretary Lawrence Eagleburger conceded in a London speech last month that inconsistent U.S. policies, the Vietnam war and Watergate contributed to past unease in the alliance. But he went on to wag a finger at “a tendency by some in Europe to use unrealistic expectations for détente, or fear of provoking the Soviets, as a rationale for not sustaining an adequate defence or a vigorous, outward-looking foreign policy.” Having effectively put his job on the line on behalf of NATO

nuclear weapons, the proud Schmidt will not take kindly to such lectures if they should be repeated at Ottawa. As for the pacifist trend reflected in the recent demonstrations, Willy Brandt has observed: “There are worse things to think about than people in my country advocating the cause of peace.” Another touchy issue—one in which Canada again is directly involved—is the matter of independence for Namibia (South-West Africa) from South Africa. Back in the Jimmy Carter era, the U.S. sparked the creation of a “contract group” designed to work out a plan. The

members were all summiteers: the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and West Germany. The subsequent plan, three years in the making, called for internationally supervised elections. Although South Africa procrastinated, then reneged on the deal last January, Reagan is now pursuing a policy of “constructive engagement” with South Africa by offering to train its coast guard and to expand diplomatic ties. The 50 members of the Organization for African Unity, including key states in the North-South dialogue, have condemned Canada and the other “contract” members for “overt and covert collusion” with “the South African racists.”

Not surprisingly, given the groaning o menu of world irritants, Trudeau would | prefer to serve up a soufflé in Ottawa. “No one,” he opined last week, “will| want to isolate any one participant on¿ anything. We’ve got to stick together and talk together.” One way Trudeau z may seek to achieve the appearance of Ï

accord is to ensure that the leaders stick to generalities while the ministers of foreign affairs and finance tackle the heavy-duty questions such as interest rates, trade imbalances, North-South matters and Namibia in the back rooms. Almost certainly there will be no discussion of issues in which the summiteers have vested commercial interests. A prime case in point is the alarming spread of nuclear technology. The United Nations Association in Ottawa

estimates that within a decade more than 40 nations will have the capability to explode an atomic bomb. The tradeconscious nations, Canada included, approach the issue in terms of uranium and reactor sales—not the plutonium from spent fuel that can be turned into bombs. Pushed into shadow is the ugly fact that traffic in uranium for purposes other than spreading heat and light is a lively art. Canada, France, Germany, the U.S. and Italy all have been implicated in mysterious deals that resulted in the development of potential nuclear explosives by several nations in the past 10 years. But the issue is not likely to be explored—or exploded—in Ottawa.

One reason may be that summitry in surroundings like Montebello—or Cancun, the Mexican resort that will be the site of the fall meetings on North-South affairs—are not conducive to hardball. Does Ronnie Reagan really want to knuckledust Herr Schmidt over dinner when he knows he will see the man in the lobby the next morning? The plain truth is that the leaders can’t get enough of the glitz and glitter of summitry in the jet age. A German minister climbs aboard his plane in Bonn, flies all the way to Mexico for a four-hour meeting, then returns home. Trudeau wakes up and decides that he wants to go home early—and, with a phone call, the departure from London is changed from afternoon to morning. In Bonn there are Mercedes, in London there are Rolls, in France there are Peugeots and everywhere there is the motorcade, the outriders waving 5 p.m. rush-hour traffic to a halt along Place de la Concorde with the verve of Toscanini in his prime. Little wonder that there is an extra bounce in the step when they board the plane for the next hop and the next ele-

gant soirée. Little wonder that people who run things, like nations, tend to get along over brunch.

The Ottawa summit may bring an end to that. Unless Reagan and Mitterrand, say, undergo a substantial softening of basic views, there seems to be very little room for compromise on even the larger issues. As a sideshow, there will be a Canadian angle in the chemistry between another Margaret and Pierre. Trudeau’s attempt to whip up anti-colonial fervor into support for his constitutional bill may have seriously eroded his stock by Thatcher’s lights. When they parted after lunch at 10 Downing Street, there seemed to be little spontaneity and warmth to the farewell. The tight-lipped press spokesman already had advised reporters behind the inevitable barricade that Maggie would be unamused by even one question on the constitution.

At his subsequent news conference, Trudeau went both ways on the issue. He noted sympathetically that the delay in a decision by the Supreme Court means that the patriation package could arrive in London for approval in the dying days of the current session, or after Parliament adjourns until late fall. If the document clears Canada, with a favorable nod from the court but at an inconvenient time for the Conservative government in Britain, said Trudeau, “It would be unrealistic on my part to expect them to pass it with or without whips.” On the other hand, he observed, Thatcher may not look forward to having the issue “hang around over here [in London] for that many months.” As for the latest state of the play, Trudeau said he still has the assurance that whenever the constitution goes to London, Thatcher “will do her best to pass the resolution.” The price for all the agony in London, however, may be vigorous opposition in Ottawa by Thatcher to Trudeau’s North-South proposals.

As the leaders are fond of noting when they gather in private, the free world is not an easy place to govern. The journalists snarl and voters send them on their teary way. “That’s the trouble with democracies,” Trudeau shrugged last week. “They keep sending different signals. What can you do with these people?” As they stroll the spacious grounds of Montebello, or dine in a room overlooking the Ottawa River, the leaders will get their chance to reflect on the complexities of modern life. For proof, they need not look to their stars—just at the roof over their heads. Although the whole lodge was built in four months 50 years ago, the new roof won’t be completed for another two years.

With files from John Hay, Carol Kennedy.