The Fundamental Things Apply

The Fundamental Things Apply: A Memoir

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Fundamental Things Apply
    Book Description:

    During the parliamentary years, from his first election in 1979 to his appointment to London in 1996, MacLaren draws on his diary to offer impressions - at times devastating, at others sympathetic - of those he encountered in his several ministerial capacities and global travels. Earlier, life in Saigon and Hanoi following the French Indo-China war, the oppressions of the Stalinist regime in Czechoslovakia, the erection of the Berlin Wall, multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations in Geneva and New York during the Cold War are recounted with both insight and humility. Of his business career, MacLaren offers, for example, an insider's perspective on the collapse of Massey-Ferguson and the successes of his business magazine company. A political memoir set in an autobiography, The Fundamental Things Apply ranges widely over Canadian economic and international affairs, including NAFTA and deficit elimination, during the latter decades of the twentieth century, offering a timely and personal account of how the public policies - both domestic and international - pursued then were formative in creating the country we live in today.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8577-5
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. 1 The Memory of All That
    (pp. 3-26)

    This is an autobiography – or a political memoir innocuously clothed in an autobiography. I write mainly about my life in diplomacy, business, and politics and, to a lesser degree, in academia. About my wife I speak often, but about others, including my parents, my brother, and our three children, I say little, believing that one’s family life has no place in a book about the public sphere. Nor could I include all the many colleagues whom I admired; those of whom I was less enamoured, I mention only occasionally or not at all. All autobiographies are, to a greater or...

  4. 2 Let’s Do IT
    (pp. 27-50)

    September 1957 found me in the Personnel Division of the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa, housed in the new post office building on Confederation Square, to sign whatever papers needed to be completed. I quickly found a small garret flat on Echo Park Drive overlooking the Rideau Canal. I bought a black mg from a friend, a car I treasured even in the excesses of an Ottawa winter. Thus equipped, I was launched upon my twelve-year diplomatic career. The probationary period consisted of a three-month assignment to each of three or four divisions, assignments interspersed with occasional collective visits...

  5. 3 Anything Goes
    (pp. 51-70)

    Upon our arrival in Canada, Lee and I were given special leave in Vancouver. It was her first encounter with Canada and Canadians, other than with those in the Indochina commission, and where better to begin than Vancouver? But cold reality awaited us in Ottawa. Once I was back in the Department, the first thing we had to do was to find a house in Rockcliffe, that quasi-sylvan resort of the diplomatic corps and senior public servants. We eventually did so, buying the house at 2 Willingdon Road from James Coyne, the sometime governor of the Bank of Canada, who...

  6. 4 Nice Work if You Can Get It
    (pp. 71-87)

    Upon my arrival at Canada’s mission to the UN in New York in January 1964, I was, to my surprise, assigned the economic work. The kindly and astute permanent representative, Paul Tremblay, fresh from the embassy in Chile, convinced me that my lack of formal economic training would be no barrier in my role. He reassured me by sharing with me his own conviction that the subject of economics, like many other subjects, was largely a matter of vocabulary. If one knew what the words meant, one knew the subject. He was of course right. As I learned the vocabulary,...

  7. 5 There’s No Cure Like Travel
    (pp. 88-103)

    The Ottawa to which we returned was a different place from the one from which we had departed at the end of 1963. For several months the country had been swept up in Trudeaumania, an enthusiasm for a Prime Minister which I had not seen before nor would see again. In the election of 25 June the reinvigorated Liberals had won an absolute majority, the goal that had eluded Pearson. It confirmed a mandate for Trudeau to settle, amongst other things, the Quebec conundrum for at least his generation.

    Once back in the narrow confines of the Ottawa bureaucracy, Lee...

  8. 6 S’Wonderful
    (pp. 104-128)

    By 1978 the second term of Pierre Trudeau’s government was nearing its limit. It had not been an entirely happy time. Trudeau had shown uncharacteristic uncertainty in his handling of a succession of major domestic challenges: tax reform, capital punishment, environmental degradation, gay rights, relations between the private and public sectors, supply management in agriculture, military readiness. The greatest challenge arose from the fact that in 1974 Canada had moved into deficit financing and debt accumulation, partly as a result of Finance Minister Turner’s indexation of social programmes as a form of inflation protection, when Canada was importing inflation, chiefly...

  9. 7 Just One of Those Things
    (pp. 129-158)

    Having completedmy two-year term as parliamentary secretary, I reverted to the more quiescent role of a backbencher. In a cabinet shuffle of September 1982, Lalonde became Minister of Finance. I travelled to Europe with Trudeau.

    9 november 1982: Lille. Direct from Ottawa, we land at Lille where, in the heavy rain, Mauroy – still mayor of Lille, I believe, as well as Prime Minister of France – and an honour guard awaiting Trudeau. The rain entirely congruent in this bleak, austere and ultimately ugly northeast department. Never my favourite part of glorious France, but I am grateful to be here – or at...

  10. 8 More than You Know
    (pp. 159-178)

    I left off my diary (andHonourable Mentions) in September 1984, when the short-lived Liberal government of John Turner was defeated by Brian Mulroney’s resurgent Conservatives. I had known Turner for more than twenty years, as a fellow alumnus of ubc, in Liberal politics, and latterly as a near neighbour in Toronto, and I never stopped feeling sorry for him. Pity, when all is said, is the last insult, but pity him I did. Despite his undeniably good intentions, he could not meet the high, if not impossible, expectations that voters – and certainly fellow Liberals – held of him....

  11. 9 It Was Great Fun
    (pp. 179-200)

    Chrétien was rightly determined to present himself as a decisive leader. In time, he would dither over the gst, but meanwhile on other issues he tested ideas that were being drafted for inclusion in theRed Book, which was being put together under the general direction of Chrétien’s competent senior policy adviser, Chaviva Hošek, and Martin. TheRed Bookwould constitute the Liberal platform for the 1993 election and help to bind together those who had followed opposing routes in the recent leadership contest. Largely at the urging of Martin, Hošek, and Edward (“Eddie”) Goldenberg, a major policy conference was...

  12. 10 They All Laughed
    (pp. 201-212)

    Paul Martin, with the indispensable support of the Prime Minister, did exceptionally well in curtailing government spending, which in turn helped to bring down interest rates, stimulate employment, and otherwise assist business in the all-important task of improving its productivity. Manley at the Department of Industry (where, among other things, he battled against the iniquitous interprovincial trade barriers) and I at International Trade worked to enhance the circumstances in which a growing economy would generate more revenue and employment, thereby reducing the heavy costs of unemployment insurance and welfare. In fact, Martin, Manley, and I – early dubbed the “three Ms”...

  13. 11 Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails
    (pp. 213-250)

    My three years as Minister for International Trade were invariably stimulating and amusing. But in 1993, upon returning to office, Ouellet and I had concurred with Chrétien’s suggestion that before the election foreseen for 1997 we should make way for younger ministers. In any event, the prospect of a sixth election campaign filled me with no ardour. Chrétien offered me instead the Senate, the lieutenant-governorship of Ontario, or the high commissionership in London. That was not a difficult choice. London was the appointment that I had long anticipated as another opportunity to seek greater diversity in Canada’s economic ties and...

  14. 12 A Room with a View
    (pp. 251-266)

    By this time, I had long since happily returned to my day job as high commissioner, a job made easier by the adequate resources that we had to meet informally with British parliamentarians, officials, academics, business people, and colleagues from the diplomatic corps.

    10 october 2000. Annual thanksgiving dinner at the residence again a great success, a holiday not known to the British. An immense advantage to our total representation is that we have not only an adequate – if not overwhelming – residence on Grosvenor Square but large flats for the Deputy High Commissioner and the Chief of the Defence Liaison...

  15. 13 Past Forgetting
    (pp. 267-274)

    While the house on Russell Hill Road was being restored from the ravages inflicted by its tenants, Lee, Fergus, and I stayed in Rosedale with Hal and Maruja Jackman, our old friends and happily frequent visitors in Britain. Before our departure from London, several offers of corporate directorships had been foretold, among whichwere Brascan, Algoma Central, Canadian Tire, Patheon, and two small companies in especial need of tender loving care, Pacific Safety Products and Broadview Press. All the boards, large and small, were to prove interesting and enjoyable, although the sometimes bizarre micromanagement gyrations of the Canadian Tire board were...

  16. Index
    (pp. 275-285)