Changing political currents 1976: A view from the Canadian Embassy

This 12-page summer 1976 telegram from Ambassador Jake Warren offers insight into the detailed attention Canadian diplomats had to pay to US political developments as Canada’s most important international relationship. Warren had a very accurate read on US domestic and foreign policy, noting its conservative tilt and the shift in its power base from the northeast to the “sunbelt” – which he saw reflected both in the impending Democratic Party nomination of Georgia’s Jimmy Carter and Reagan’s intra-party challenge of President Gerald Ford, whom Warren described as “the most conservative Republican President since Hoover.” Warren noted the emerging anti-establishment mood to which both Carter and Reagan appealed. In his view, this southward shift towards parts of the country “where Canada is known only slightly more than Brazil” would “create a new and unfamiliar background to our relations.” Warren seemed unaware of Reagan’s 1974 meetings with Canadian diplomats, stating “Reagan has never, as far as we know, displayed any particular attitude towards Canada or Canada-USA relations.” Anticipating that a Reagan victory would bring about a more assertive and nationalist foreign policy, such concerns were eased first with Ford’s wining the Republican nomination and then Carter’s election win in November.

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Ambassador Jake Warren, 9 Jul. 1976, Library and Archives Canada, RG 25, vol. 21995, file 20-1-2-USA pt. 45.