Anti-Americanism in Canada has historical origins. The Yanks were rebels against the Crown, after all, while Canadians stayed loyal subjects. Military incursions fueled the anger. Remember the American invasion of Quebec in 1775? We don’t either. But Canadians do remember their “victory” in the War of 1812.
In a modern context, however, these feelings tend to wax and wane depending on who occupies the Oval Office and 24 Sussex.
This cross-border relationship was particularly testy in 1965. Prime Minister Lester Pearson, fresh off delivering a speech in Washington against the Vietnam War, visited President Lynden Johnson the next day in the White House. The irascible LBJ was more than a little ticked off at the diminutive Pearson. As Lawrence Martin wrote in his 1982 book, “The Presidents and Prime Ministers”, Johnson grabbed Pearson by the shirt collar and lifted him off the ground, yelling “you pissed on my rug”, the reference being to Pearson’s anti-war stance in Johnson’s town.
Things were much more cordial between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Who can forget the so-called “Shamrock Summit” in 1985 Quebec City, during which Mulroney and Reagan serenaded the crowd with a syrupy version of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling?” Regan was less popular with the broader Canadian public. In fact, he was heckled when addressing Parliament in 1987.
Father and son Bush (George H.W. and George W.) were unpopular in Canada, and Canadians heavily opposed Bush Jr.’s 2003 Iraq invasion. The warm relations that Mulroney and Stephen Harper maintained with the two Bush’s generated some economic benefits – manifest in Free Trade agreements, for example – but were also political fodder for the Liberals.
The “bromance” between Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama reached its photo op-friendly zenith in March 2016 when the President invited Trudeau down to Washington to chat about hockey, among other subjects. Trudeau was the first Canadian prime minister in 19 years to be invited for a state visit. But these sunny ways didn’t last. The White House-Sussex Drive relationship began to sour shortly after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. The 45th President remains enormously unpopular among most Canadians, and his frosty relationship with the Prime Minister stands in very sharp contrast to the Trudeau-Obama connection.
Image source: Wikimedia
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