In 185k, the United States and Britain— acting on behalf of its Canadian colonists—signed a limited free trade deal, which the Americans abrogated 12 years later. Several attempts to renegotiate a deal across the border in the generations that followed were unsuccessful. Here is haw the latest agreement unfolded:
June 2, 1983: During his successful Conservative leadership campaign, Brian Mulroney said of free trade in Thunder Bay, Ont.: “It affects Canadian sovereignty and we will have none of it, not during the leadership campaign or at any other time.”
March 18,1985: Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan meet in Quebec City at the so-called Shamrock Summit; they agree to explore greater “bilateral trade” between the two countries. Nov. 8, 1985: Both countries name skilled negotiators: Mulroney appoints Simon Reisman; the United States names Peter Murphy.
May 22, 1986: The United States imposes duties on Canadian cedar shakes and shingles. Free trade talks also officially begin in Ottawa. Deadline for completion: Oct. 4,1987. June 2,1986: Canada retaliates against the “unjustified” U.S. duty on shingles, reviving $80 million in duties on U.S. products. Sept. 23, 1987: Reisman stomps out of negotiations, saying that the Americans have not met “our bottom line.” He declares the talks are “over.” Mulroney says that they are “suspended.” Oct. 2, 1987: Seeking to salvage free trade before the deadline, Mulroney sends International Trade Minister Patricia Carney, Finance Minister Michael
Wilson, Chief of Staff Derek Burney and Reisman to Washington. Oct. 3, 1987: After 14 hours of negotiating, Burney phones Mulroney to tell him the teams have reached agreement. It is
less than an hour to the midnight deadline. Jan. 2, 1988: Mulroney and Reagan sign the final text of the trade agreement. July 6, 1988: Parliament approves the pact in principle, 114 to 51. July 20, 1988: Liberal Leader John Turner, trying to force an election on free trade, says that he has asked the Liberal-dominated Senate to stall the deal. Aug. 9, 1988: The U.S. House of Representatives passes the trade bill, 366 to 40. Aug. 12, 1988: In Ottawa, the Commons begins final debate on the agreement; next stop: the Senate, which promises to stall the bill to force an election. Dec. 31, 1988: Deadline for ratification of free trade by both countries, failing which the agreement may die.
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