Courtesy Reuters

President Nixon's visit to Ottawa in April was preceded by two White House pronouncements that made far more news in Canada than they did in the United States. On both occasions for quite different reasons the President's words struck Canadians as nothing less than fantastic. At a White House news conference on September 16, 1971, the President unintentionally made news from coast to coast in Canada by announcing: "After the Japanese were here I found that, both from the information they gave and the information we had ourselves, that Japan is our biggest customer in the world." Coming as it did hard on the trauma induced in Canada by the August 15 surcharge, the President's confusion of Japan for Canada as the best customer of the United States seemed to Canadians as all but unbelievable literally and disturbingly fantastic.

The second utterance, made on December 6, 1971, also got a billing of "fantastic" but this time in a very different sense. It was made directly by the President to the Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who, leaving nothing to chance, himself characterized the President's words as "fantastic," using the term, of course, in the happiest possible meaning. The following day the Prime Minister formally reported the presidential pronouncement to Parliament as follows:

One of the purposes of my visit was to seek reassurance from the President, and it can only come from him, that it is neither the intention nor the desire of the United States that the economy of Canada become so dependent upon the United States in terms of a deficit trading pattern that Canadians will inevitably lose independence of economic decisions. . . . He assured me that it was in the clear interests of the United States to have a Canadian neighbour, not only independent both politically and economically but also one which was confident that the decisions and policies in each of these sectors would be taken by Canadians in their own interests, in defence of their own values, and in pursuit of

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