Remarks to Members of the Empire and Canadian Clubs in Toronto, Canada
June 21, 1988
Thank you all very much, and, Brian, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tony van Strawbenzee, Gordon Riel, and ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here today. I should tell you that, for me, this is a season for antiquity. Two weeks ago I spoke in one of the most venerable chambers in the democratic world, London's Guildhall. And today, here with two of the oldest regularly assembling groups of their kind in our young continent -- how I love to find anything that's older than I am. [Laughter] But it's a pleasure to join you. And for 3 days now, I've enjoyed the beauty and vibrancy of your magnificent city. Your mayor recently said that Toronto has excitement, but hasn't lost civility, and I can vouch for that.
But I tell you, I have to interrupt my remarks here with Brian's farewell and the fact of what's going to happen to me. I don't know why it should have reminded me of a little something. But Nancy and I were in Ireland at Cashel Rock, and a young guide was taking us through the cemetery at the ruins of the old cathedral where Saint Patrick first erected a cross. And he brought us to a great tombstone, and inscribed on it was, "Remember me as you pass by, for as you are, so once was I. But as I am, you too will be. So, be content to follow me.'' [Laughter] And that had proven too much for some later Irishman, who had scratched underneath, "To follow you, I am content. I wish I knew which way you went.'' [Laughter]
Well, Brian has told me about Toronto's extraordinary dynamism and spirit of enterprise, its low crime and high quality of life. But as an old sportscaster, what says the most to me is the way this hometown cheers its Blue Jays. Toronto, like Canada itself, is brimming with strength, vitality, and self-assurance.
Those qualities, together with our similar heritages and common values, have made the relationship between the United States and Canada unique in world history. We have been best friends, important trading partners, and allies for more than a century and a half. In many ways, America's relationship with Canada has been the vanguard of our relations with other nations. Our first environmental treaty, over boundary waters, involved Canada. Our first permanent mutual defense relationship was with Canada. And the agreement to remove ships of war from the Great Lakes was our first arms reduction pact. You may have heard me say that nations don't distrust each other because they are armed, they are armed because they distrust each other. With the longest undefended border in the world, Canada and the United States are proof of the flip-side of that: When nations live in trust and friendship, they live in peace.
Today our relations are better than ever. Over the last 4 years, the Canadian-U.S. partnership has grown and strengthened. That's all for the good. In a world that's changing before our eyes, we need each other's friendship as never before. And in many ways, that is what, for Brian and me, the last 3 days here in Toronto have been about: the changing world and the role of North America in it.
As you know, we've just finished meeting with the leaders of the five other major industrial democracies. These annual economic summits have played an important role in the revival of growth in the industrial world. Each year, of course, a different country serves as host. Over the past 8 years, I've noticed that the leader of the host nation sets the tone and, to a large extent, determines the success of the meetings. Well, this year's summit was informal yet highly focused. It was a get-down-to-basics, open-for-business summit. And the progress achieved may not become fully evident for months, but it was essential -- I should say, substantial. Much of the credit for this success belongs to one of the democratic world's strongest and best leaders and someone whose friendship I cherish. It is rare that a personal friendship between two leaders can change the course of history, rarer still that it changes for the better. But I believe that's the case here. I believe that future generations will regard our work together as one of the great legacies of North America to the world in this half century. No, we don't always see eye-to-eye, but then what two Irishmen ever did? [Laughter] So, let me just pause here to say thank you for his vision, leadership, and friendship to my colleague and your Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney.
You know, as I said, economic summits are not intended to produce blockbuster announcements. They are regular business meetings. They give those of us around the table a feel for what the others are thinking. They're a forum for us to raise issues or to advance the many ways in which our governments work together.
In economics at this summit, we advanced the process of coordinating policy. From now on, our seven governments will examine structural reform issues in their talks and will include a commodity price indicator in coordinating policy. We also reviewed our commitment to achieving progress in the Uruguay round of trade negotiations. Finally, we agreed to work together to ease the debt situation in the poorest countries of Africa.
Turning from economics, in East-West relations we reaffirmed a common position on human rights, on the need to reduce the massive conventional forces imbalance in favor of the Soviet Union and its allies, and the conditions by which we're ready to expand economic ties with Eastern countries. In other areas, we underscored the need for a common fight against terrorism and the international narcotics trade. And I'll have more to say about the drug trade in a moment. And finally, we said once again that we would work to resolve regional conflicts in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Cambodia, and South Africa.
You'll see a great deal about our discussions in tomorrow's headlines. But sometimes, maybe most of the time, history is not made in headlines, and we don't recognize great turning points until they're long past. This was an economic summit, and in economics I believe that today history is made at summits, yes, but in broader and more profound ways as well. This summit was held against the backdrop of a transformation as dramatic as the one you find at the place on the prairie where the Rockies meet the Plains. Less than a decade ago, inflation, as Brian told us, stagnation, decline, and despair characterized, in one measure or another, the economies of nearly all the summit nations. And today we live in a time of hope.
I know that I don't need to tell you this because, as it was in the summit, Canada is a leader. In the last 4 years, among industrial nations, only Japan matched Canada's economic growth, while Canada created more than a million jobs and, confounding the experts of just a few years ago, did it while keeping inflation in check. How? One answer, of course, is that you've been deregulating industry, moving government out of the ownership and management of industry, and reducing marginal tax rates.
But another, and I believe truer, answer is that you have reaffirmed an old faith -- faith in the abiding, universal truth that economic growth does not spring from the numbers and graphs in government bureaus but from the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people. You have said, in effect, that the key to the future is in a simple human face. It's not the face of someone famous, someone whose name is likely to appear in the history books, but of someone, a man or a woman, who carries in his or her heart a dream, an excitement, a drive. And despite others calling that person impractical, he or she goes out and builds a dream into a business. Sometimes the dream is technologically sophisticated. Sometimes it's as simple as the store on the corner. Either way, this person, this dreamer, this entrepreneur, whether on his or her own or as a determined leader within a firm, is the driving force behind all growth. And because he or she can come from any part of society with ideas that will often seem eccentric, at least until they are tested, we in government cannot help this individual. We can't effectively target money or other assistance. We can only keep out of his or her way. We can, as you have, reduce taxes and regulations and open markets. We can give freedom.
Like you, we in the United States have always rediscovered that human face, that enduring truth. And as it has been for you, the spark from this faith in freedom has rekindled our fires of opportunity, invention, and growth. It's transforming life on this great, splendid continent we share, and more and more it's transforming life throughout the world.
Yes, as I looked around that summit table these last 3 days, it seemed to me we've come to a moment in which, as it must have when John Cabot landed on the shores of Newfoundland nearly 500 years ago, humanity stands on the shores of a new world and for a moment holds its breath in awe and wonder. Each of the summit nations has turned away from statism and toward the market. This movement toward freer enterprise is worldwide, stretching from India to Argentina and beginning to reach even into China and, now, the Soviet Union. And everywhere there are those who say we must dim this light of opportunity and turn back from this frontier of the future. And the question is, will we?
Already on this continent that light has ignited a bonfire of entrepreneurship and technological innovation unlike anything mankind has ever seen. As one physicist noted not long ago: "The entire Industrial Revolution enhanced productivity by a factor of one hundred. The microelectronic revolution has already enhanced productivity in information-based technology by a factor of more than a million.'' And he added, "the end isn't in sight yet.'' Today a phone call, a television report, or a currency transaction bounces from Toronto to Tokyo by way of satellite, often starting from a dish antenna that fits on the top of a truck. Satellite and dish replace tons of wire and miles of cable that once carried those signals. And they do the job better.
The heart of the technological revolution that produced them, that has, at the same time, put desktop computers in homes across our continent while making North American industry vastly more productive -- the heart of this revolution is a tiny silicon chip that you can hold on the tip of your finger and still see most of the finger. Today a single chip has the incredible power of a million transistors, that is, of the biggest computer of the 1960's. Yet one of North America's most prominent research directors predicts that in less than 15 years, the power of a billion transistors will be packed on a chip. That's the power of 20 of today's most advanced supercomputers, all in a laptop computer, available to every entrepreneur and executive.
Already this new technology is transforming our offices and factories, creating many jobs, eliminating others. And for that reason, some people fear it. I understand that. I remember returning to Hollywood from the service. Before the War, I'd achieved the status symbol of all contract players in movie studios. I could get away with saying, "I quit at 6 o'clock.'' Well, when I got back, I decided I'd better reestablish this right from the start, having been gone 4 years. The first day of shooting, I sought out the first assistant director, and I said, "I think we should get one thing straight. I quit at 6 o'clock.'' He shot back, "Well, you're going to be pretty lonesome for that last hour. We quit at 5.'' [Laughter]
It seemed that with wartime excess-profits tax, everyone started to think of production costs as mostly government money, so why not share the wealth. They started leaving early and loosening standards. Pretty soon, though, Hollywood had to shape up. It faced a new challenge from a new technology called television. Within a few years, studio employment dropped by thousands and many predicted Hollywood would die -- but Hollywood adapted. Many Hollywood people found work in TV, and that included a certain actor. The studios themselves discovered new markets, and among them the television market. And today almost as many people have jobs in the movies as at the peak, and even more work in broadcasting, which now faces the new technologies of video and cable.
This story of challenge and growth is not just the story of movies and television but of all humanity in its long climb from the swamp to the stars. Do we dare stop climbing? Would we want to stop, especially we North Americans, we who, as Winston Churchill said when he addressed your Parliament during the bleakest days of the Second World War, have not journeyed all this way across the mountains, across the prairies, across the centuries because we're made of sugar candy? Nothing could turn us back faster from the new technological horizon and the morning of its promise than to do what some would have us do and hide from the growing global marketplace.
Your Prime Minister and I want to keep the world on the path of hope. And that's why we've joined together in pressing for a new round of international trade talks, in working for reform of the agricultural policies of the summit nations, and of course in negotiating a Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. That historic agreement, once approved by your Parliament and our Congress, will throw open the doors to the world's largest free trade area. It will benefit not only our two countries but all nations now wrestling against the siren temptation of protection. Already Canada and the United States produce the world's largest volume of trade. The U.S. has a larger volume of trade with Ontario alone than with most other countries. Who better than Canada and America to show those who hear the call of protection that there is a better way? As I told the Parliament last year: "We will overcome the impulse of economic isolationism with a brotherly embrace, an embrace that may someday extend throughout the Americas and ultimately to the free world.''
Well, with the European Community scheduled to remove internal barriers by 1992, we can hope that the two great continents of Europe and North America will become the dynamic engines of an even faster, expanding, open, world economy. Our free trade agreement will create in North America the world's most powerful market, a market that includes many of the most exciting centers of commerce and invention on Earth, a market that brings together two of the freest peoples on Earth. In the past, whenever we North Americans have lowered trading restrictions, we have seen our economies bloom like mountain meadows after a spring rain. Well, hasn't the moment come for another flowering?
Some say that open trade and easier access will lead to an erosion of cultural distinctions. But I believe that to find North America's true future under this agreement we need to look no farther than Canada itself, where distinct cultures have lived, worked, and traded together while respecting each other's differences for generations.
With protectionist storms brewing everywhere, the choice in both our nations and among all the summit countries is between moving forward toward freer trade or backward toward the protection and isolation that are relics of another age. We cannot, for example, expect the limited free trade of today to remain secure if trade in other products becomes more and more restricted. We cannot stand still, but then we North Americans never have. We've always risen to meet a challenge. Our hearts quicken to the call; our eyes brighten; our pace picks up.
Let's remind those who call for sweeping separation that we have long worked in common for common goals -- to protect our common security and peace, for example. Of course, some have criticized this security partnership, often saying that if we build weapons we're bound to use them, which makes me wonder where they've been for the last 40 years.
In my country's Air Force museum there is an entire B - 36 bomber, one of the first planes used for mutual security in an early part of NATO's nuclear umbrella. It has wings two-thirds the length of a football field, six rear-mounted propeller engines, four jet booster engines, and lots of vacuum tubes. At one time it could carry a 10,000 pound bomb load and fly 10,000 miles. Three hundred and eighty-five were built. Most have been junked. None was ever flown in combat.
These last 40 years, whole generations of missiles and nuclear weapons have been built and dismantled. Their only job was to keep the peace. It was kept. And now, because of NATO's strength and steadfastness, the Soviets have agreed for the first time to join us and eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. Is there any better answer to those who, in the name of peace, oppose a strong defense partnership?
Canada and America have been partners for peace not just in maintaining a strong Western defense but all over the world. From Cyprus to the Sinai, from pressuring the Soviets to get out of Afghanistan to supporting democracy in the Philippines, we have worked together. I saw one of the fruits of our partnership during my recent visit to Moscow. I had some contact -- not enough -- with the Soviet people. They lined the streets by the thousands. I was amazed by their sincere warmth. Their faces were filled with hope -- the hope, I believe, that they might be entering a new era in human history, an era of peace and, yes, of freedom.
As I said at Guildhall, I found Mr. Gorbachev to be a serious man seeking serious reform. And he and I talked about those reforms, as well as about regional conflicts, human rights, and arms reduction. Our discussions focused on freedom of choice and other individual freedoms and on the fact that recognition of these basic rights must never be taken for granted. I know I speak for all of us in saying our prayers go with the Soviet peoples. But as I also said at Guildhall of the security partnership between North America and Europe in NATO, let us stay strong. Without our strength, the tide of oppression and expansion would never have been halted. Our partnership and that of our allies is the hope of all peoples who yearn for freedom. So, as the Prime Minister said so well in his speech to Congress in April: "We wish Mr. Gorbachev well, but history obliges us to retain a strong measure of skepticism about the Soviet system. We can all be,'' as the Prime Minister said, "in some ways from Missouri.''
Over the last 3 days, the summit partners here in Toronto discussed East-West relations. And we took up another threat to the security of our nations, a comparatively new but frightening one: illegal drugs. Drugs have only once before been on our agenda. A North American dialog between Prime Minister Mulroney and Vice President Bush put them there this time. Over breakfast in Washington in April, the Prime Minister and the Vice President exchanged thoughts on how our countries could work together to fight the drug kingpins. One area they discussed was appropriate for the talks at this summit: how to prevent the laundering of money across international borders. Handling of money is proving the drug trade's weakest point. The drug trade is conducted primarily in cash and needs international banking to move and launder its money. Canada's strong support for the Bush initiative is reflected in the historic commitment endorsed by all the summit leaders in the Toronto communique. It's time to shut the teller's window to drug lords and close the money laundries for good.
So, yes, in ensuring the security not only of our nations but our ideals, in fighting the drug scourge, in leading the world economy to a future of opportunity and growth, the partnership between our countries is at the center. It is the example to our allies and the world. It is the hope of peoples and nations.
And so, today, mankind -- standing on the shore of a new continent, a new age of invention, adventure, and growth -- holds its breath and for one lingering moment wonders: Go forward or go back? And what we North Americans decide together will, to a large measure, answer that question for the entire world. Let us choose life. And let us choose hope. And let us turn to the horizon and greet the morning and continue the adventure that our forefathers started so many years ago when, with faith and freedom, they landed on this great, strange continent and began to build a new world.
Before I leave completely, with regard to what I have said about drugs and all the things that is going forward, I couldn't help but think very proudly today at the table -- with all of that being accomplished between our seven nations -- I couldn't help but think that one tiny young lady a few years ago, moving to Washington, set out on her own on a crusade against drugs. And today she's got a lot of company.
And now, I thank you. And since this is my last official visit to Canada, let me add here publicly to Brian Mulroney, a colleague for 4 years and a friend for life, a particular thank you. Brian and Mila, God bless you, and God bless you all. And I have to tell you -- you've probably guessed from what he said and what I said -- that in this summit business, the head man in the country where you're meeting is the chairman of all the meetings. And I have to tell you that on a performance rating of, say, from 1 to 10, your Prime Minister, in my book, gets an "11''.
Note: The President spoke at 7:25 p.m. in the Canadian Room at the Royal York Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He also referred to Tony van Strawbenzee and Gordon Riel, presidents of the Empire and Canadian Clubs, respectively.