Yankee Doodle Dandy: Brian Mulroney and the American Agenda


400 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7737-2880-5
DDC 971.064'7




Reviewed by David A. Lenarcic

David A. Lenarcic teaches history at Wilfrid Laurier University in


The author draws on her experience as Maclean’s Washington bureau
chief during Brian Mulroney’s tenure as prime minister to assess his
stewardship of Canadian–American relations. McDonald’s appraisal is
damning. Mulroney presided over an “Americanization” of Canada that
corresponded with his “continental dreams.” Like Ronald Reagan and
George Bush, “the celebration of brisk, sometimes brutal global
commerce [was] his governing credo.” An examination of such issues as
free trade, acid rain, and the protection of cultural industries
highlights Mulroney’s “most damaging legacy: he ... left Canadians
with a diminished sense of themselves.” Mulroney is portrayed as a
fawning supplicant of the United States, and Canadian nationalism is
viewed as having been gutted by “convergent corporate interests” in
both countries.

McDonald demonstrates the existence of a disturbing network of
connections between Mulroney, his government, his supporters in the
business community, and their American counterparts that goes beyond
mere coincidence. She also convincingly shows that “subterfuge” and
“deception” characterized its operations. However, the tone is far
too conspiratorial—there seems to be an American behind each bush and
a right-wing corporate agenda at work everywhere. That there was a
continentalist drift to Mulroney’s policy marked by a transboundary
meshing of business and government interests, there is no doubt. That
this did irreparable harm to Canada is certainly possible, though still
remains to be seen. That Mulroney had no free will and was simply an
errand boy of America Inc. is far from clear. The author does not always
distinguish between sharing someone else’s ideas and kowtowing to

McDonald’s interpretation is so biased against Mulroney as to make
even the harshest critic feel constrained to utter a word in his
defence. This lack of objectivity detracts from a lively, well-written
account based on many interviews with the principals involved. A truly
balanced reckoning of Mulroney’s handling of Canadian–American
relations may have to await the passage of time with its cooling of
emotions and declassification of government documents.


McDonald, Marci., “Yankee Doodle Dandy: Brian Mulroney and the American Agenda,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1653.