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Financial Post, Weekly edition, Fri 24 Jun 88, page 12. Editorial.

Keywords: POLITICS CANADA Brian Mulroney Margaret Thatcher Ronald Reagan

What happened to our maturity?

No, this editorial won't be about the economic summit, as such. But the domestic political fallout from the summit, and some post-summit activity is fascinating.

First of all, there is the speculation about how the summit will affect the Conservatives' chances at the next election. Is Brian Mulroney more electable now because he spent three or four days hobnobbing with powerful leaders?

No doubt the Tories will make the most of the Prime Minisiter's summit performance - which was impressive - in the next election campaign. But whether the summit turns out be a net plus is uncertain. Those who dislike Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher could be even less inclined to vote Conservative in the wake of the praise both leaders heaped on Mulroney.

If the reaction of some of those attending the Canadian and Empire Clubs dinner for Reagan is any guide, appearing too chummy with an American President sparks a wariness that could work against the PM. For some, being too friendly toward Ronald (and Nancy) brings us more under U.S. influence. Better to keep our distance. Be polite, but keep up our guard. (The politeness didn't extend to a few who declined to stand when even the PM was introduced at the Reagan dinner. Well, some must make their personal statement, even though the office is normally deserving respect.)

The attitude toward the Ronnie/Brian hype may be all part of the Canadian personality - you know, we are more reserved than the Americans. Furthermore, Ronnie is Hollywood. Actors can con you if you're not careful. In that sense, Mulroney would probably be better advised to be less obvious about his friendship with Reagan. Lord knows, Mackenzie King may have been fatally wounded if Canadians had known Franklin Roosevelt called him ''Mackenzie'' (one of the few who ever did).

A similar attitude came to the fore when Prime Minister Thatcher addressed Parliament in Ottawa before leaving for home. The Opposition was positively apoplectic about her hard sell for conservatism and her references to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

A case can be made that Thatcher should have refrained from an opinion on the FTA since the enabling legislation has yet to be passed. But did her intervention really demand the agitated references to no longer being a ''colony?'' Or John Turner's assurance that if a Canadian Prime Minister had expressed, in the British Parimament, a strong opinion on British entry into the European Community, he would have been ''thrown out'' of Westminster?

Surely we can withstand both the friendship of Reagan and the frankness of Thatcher.

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