“What’s Going on in Canada?” A California Governor wants to know

In a surprise request in May 1974, Ronald Reagan, soon to finish his second term as California Governor and widely viewed as a probable Republican Presidential candidate in 1976, asked to meet Robert Adams, Canadian Consul General in San Francisco to learn “What’s going on in Canada ?” Such a request was rare from a California Governor, particularly one not known to have had strong international interests. In a 90-minute meeting that included individuals later prominent in the Reagan administration, Michael Deaver and Edwin Meese III, Adams explained the Canadian political system, economy and Canada’s attitudes towards the United States. Afterwards Adams’ assessment was that Reagan was charming and affable, but the questions he and aides posed were “simple and narrow.” It was clear that Reagan was strongly market-oriented and critical of big government, and would differ with the policies the government of Pierre Trudeau was then following. Adams believed the meeting was still useful, but it foreshadowed some of the challenges Reagan would have later with Trudeau. Surprisingly absent were discussions of the dominant news stories in each country: the Canadian federal election campaign then under way (which gave Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals a new majority mandate) and the climaxing of the Watergate scandal that would soon force President Richard Nixon from the White House.

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E.R. Johnston to MacLellan, 8 Mar. 1974, Library and Archives Canada, RG 25, vol 21995, file 20-1-2-USA, pt 36.

“What’s Going on in Canada?” A California Governor wants to know