M998.48.176 | Free Trade Apple, 1986

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Free Trade Apple, 1986
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
About 1990, 20th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
29.7 x 23.2 cm
Gift of Mr. Terry Mosher
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , politics (10928) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

"In 1984, Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister of Canada after winning the largest parliamentary majority in Canadian history. In his campaign platform, he had opposed any sort of free trade arrangement with the United States. But in 1986, Mulroney and his new friend, Ronald Reagan, announced that they would indeed pursue a free trade agreement between the two nations. That led to this cartoon, which suggests we should perhaps be suspicious of American motives in the matter."

Terry Mosher (alias Aislin)

  • What

    In the late 1980s, many people feared that the ratification of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement would severely restrict Canadian autonomy. Opponents of free trade argued that Canada's political agendas would be submerged by those of its mighty neighbour to the south, in particular Canada's social programs. The cartoon evokes this fear, which was much more pronounced in the English-speaking provinces than in Quebec.

  • Where

    Canada and the United States have always been important trading partners. Nonetheless, a web of laws and regulations on each side of the border stood in the way of the creation of a North American common market. The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement of 1988 and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1992, which also includes Mexico, created one of the largest free trade areas on the planet.

  • When

    Upon taking power in Ottawa in 1984, Brian Mulroney set about to ease tensions between Canada and the United States. His efforts to restore the relationship between the two countries led to the signing of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement on January 2, 1988. In the House of Commons, the opposition parties tried everything within their means to prevent its adoption. After fighting a gruelling election campaign dominated by the debate on free trade, the victorious Conservatives ratified the trade measures, which came into effect at midnight on December 31, 1988.

  • Who

    The cartoon alludes to the two dominant political figures of this period: Brian Mulroney, represented by the beaver, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993, and Ronald Reagan, president of the United States from 1980 to 1988 who, like William Tell, was supposed to aim for the apple but instead, hit the figure under it : Canada. Brian Mulroney was born in Baie Comeau, Quebec, in 1939.