M998.48.5.1 | Brian Mulroney as a Parrot

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Drawing, cartoon
Brian Mulroney as a Parrot
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
1991, 20th century
Ink, felt pen and opaque white ink on paper
24.3 x 23.8 cm
Gift of Mr. Terry Mosher
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , politics (10928)
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Keys to History

"When Brian Mulroney was a lad, he sang Irish songs for American company bosses in his hometown of Baie Comeau. Things didn't change much - he did the same for President Ronald Reagan. Canada has always had strong leaders who not only held Americans at arm's length, but also tried to pull Canadians back from the temptations of the American candy store. Mulroney, however, ended up working behind the counter. In this cartoon, I've drawn a furtive-looking Mulroney as an American parrot."

Terry Mosher (alias Aislin)

  • What

    Many English-speaking Canadians viewed Brian Mulroney as a mouthpiece for American policies. Because of his personal relationship with Ronald Reagan, Mulroney was often depicted as a parrot who repeated everything said in the White House. Subsequent analysis of the balance of trade between the two countries has nonetheless shown that the Canadian economy benefited greatly from the policies put in place by Brian Mulroney's Conservative team.

  • Where

    The Canadian and American economies are closely integrated, no doubt the result of the many historical and geographical links between the two countries. Because the population of the United States is almost ten times larger than that of Canada, many Canadian nationalists viewed the lowering of tariff barriers between the two countries as a significant threat to Canada.

  • When

    The earliest attempts to create a free trade zone between Canada and the United States go back to the early 20th century. In 1911, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and his Liberals proposed a reciprocity treaty. The project was abandoned when Laurier lost the election of 1911. Ironically, it was the Conservative party under Brian Mulroney that, with voter support, finally implemented the measure. The 1988 federal election campaign was dominated by the debate over Canada's economic and political ties with the United States. The victorious Conservatives elected 170 members to the House of Commons, while the second-runners, John Turner's Liberals, elected 82.

  • Who

    Brian Mulroney was born in Baie Comeau, Quebec, in 1939. He was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993.