Preparing for the first meeting: Overview

In this colourful and cynical memo, Policy Planning Chair Jeremy K.B. Kinsman (later ambassador to Russia, Italy and the European Union and High Commissioner to the UK) offers “fast thoughts for basic strategy” and even mockingly suggests he get into “Reagan mode” by getting his points on a single page (which he fails to do). Kinsman accurately anticipates clashes between Trudeau and Reagan, the main risks being that Trudeau would be bored by or even dismissive of the new President, whereas in turn Reagan might find Trudeau “unreliable” or even “Red” on issues and values of fundamental importance to him. A bad start between them in his view would make Reagan susceptible to critical opinions of Trudeau from the ideological hardliners appointed to the new administration’s working levels. Kinsman stressed that real differences existed between Canada and the United States on economic issues and also on North-South relations. On the latter especially Trudeau was cautioned not to lecture Reagan but to present success on that front as “a prophylactic” against “generalized terrorism” – perhaps hinting at the new administrations early hardline pronouncements on Central America.

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J.K.B. Kinsman memo to Under Secretary Alan Gotlieb, February 12, 1981, Library and Archives Canada, RG 25, vol 9301, file 20-USA-9 REAGAN, R, pt 1.