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U.S.-Canadian Relations on the Rocks

Will Ottawa Go Its Own Way?

Trump and Trudeau at the G7 summit, June 2018 Leah Millis / Reuters

On April 2, 1965, Prime Minister Lester Pearson of Canada traveled to Philadelphia, where he gave an address urging U.S. President Lyndon Johnson to consider a limited halt in the bombing of North Vietnam. Although Pearson’s appeal was respectful and restrained, the president felt betrayed, and he let it be known when the two met at Camp David the next day. After a frosty lunch, Johnson led Pearson by the arm to a stone terrace and, for the next hour, lit into him for coming to his “backyard” and attacking him on Vietnam.

Charles Ritchie, Canada’s ambassador to the United States at the time, recorded the tirade in his diary. Johnson “strode the terrace, he sawed the air with his arms, with upraised fist he drove home the verbal hammer blows.” Pearson, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a settlement in the Sinai in 1956, sat silently

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