Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald McConville
One of the striking elements of that sort of negotiation, too, was brought home to me in one of my trips to Canada during this period for some of the negotiations. I recall we were in a car, which, I think was hired by the US government but had a Canadian driver, and during the ride out to the airport this driver, who made a living as a driver, started to inquire what we were doing here, and we talked about the free trade agreement, and he suddenly showed a great deal of interest. He was a man probably in his upper 50s or maybe even a little older, and he described how he and his sons, over a series of Sunday afternoon dinners, had discussed the impending free trade agreement amongst themselves and they had collected a lot of literature about it and articles and so forth, had spent a series of Sunday afternoon dinners discussing it. You probably could have questioned 100 Americans and been lucky if even one of the hundred would have been aware that the negotiations were going on. There was an asymmetry in interest in this sort of thing in Canada versus the United States that was astonishing. In Canada, it was the overriding issue. In fact, ultimately what happened, it had to get approved in Congress and that took a good while longer, and it had to get ratified. In Canada, as I recall, the Prime Minister decided to make it an issue of reelection and called for elections and ran for election, and it became the issue in the election, and he got reelected by virtue that the free trade agreement was ratified in Canada. In fact, it's because of the relative size of the economies, the consequences for Canada were far, far greater than for the United States. There had always been a great deal of trade between the United States and Canada, but this was going to integrate our economies to an even greater degree, but it was going to be of far more consequence in those terms for Canada than it would be for the United States. So it was an issue of very major magnitude, and it was fascinating to be a part of it.