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Wrestling With The Elephant: The Inside Story Of The Canada-U.S. Trade Wars

cat #: 921558
ISBN 10: 1-55199-015-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-55199-015-6
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Book Summary
With 8 pp b&w illustrations.

On the tenth anniversary of the controversial Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, one of its architects released this engrossing and remarkably candid inside account of the tumultuous course of those negotiations and their aftermath.

In 1986, Gordon Ritchie, the son of a former Canadian Ambassador to Washington and himself a career civil service mandarin, was recruited as Canada’s ambassador for trade negotiations and deputy chief negotiator at the free trade talks. For the next two and a half years, Ritchie was at the centre of the tortuous drama that produced the FTA, a treaty that remains the single most far-reaching economic initiative affecting the lives of Canadians.

The story is enlivened by a remarkable cast of characters. Initiated by an ambitious Brian Mulroney, then Prime Minister of Canada, and a distracted Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States, the action soon shifted to the team captains: the pugnacious Simon Reisman for Canada, the slippery Peter Murphy for the US, both backed by supporting players and all with rival agendas of their own. Throughout Ritchie’s clear-eyed analysis runs an extraordinary tale of the interplay, across and around the table, between these international power brokers.

At the same time, Ritchie makes the highly complex business of trade relations between the world’s most closely intertwined trading partners understandable, explaining the implications for Canadians today. Since the FTA, the irritants between Canada and the US have continued to make headlines and will do so in the months and years ahead; even Quebec’s fate and the question of national unity is closely tied to trade. A committed Canadian nationalist, Ritchie draws telling lessons from his dealings with the Americans, illuminating the role that trade plays in defining and defending our national interests.

Certain to stimulate both praise and debate, Wrestling with the Elephant is that rare but irresistible blend of historically significant memoir, intelligible exploration of important issues, and a fast-paced, compelling read.

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