Shamrock Summit

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The Mulroneys and Reagans in Quebec, Canada, March 18, 1985, the day after the two leaders famously sang "When Irish Eyes are Smiling".

The Shamrock Summit was the colloquial name given to the 18 March 1985 meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and US President Ronald Reagan in Quebec City. It gained this nickname because of the Irish background of the two leaders, and due to the meeting being held on St. Patrick's Day. The summit was capped by a televised event where Mulroney, Reagan and their wives sang When Irish Eyes are Smiling, which publicly exemplified the camaraderie between the two leaders.[1][2]

The event is considered a major political-cultural episode in Canada, mostly on the basis of the perceived symbolism of the summit. Documents later revealed the US felt much the same way about the importance of the summit, seeing it as an excellent chance to mend relations between the two countries in the post- Trudeau era. In one memo written preparing for the event, George Shultz called it "a potential watershed."[3]

Among the many issues discussed in a busy 24-hour schedule were military planning, upgrading the DEW line to use modern electronics, a landmark agreement on the control of acid rain, and the formal signing of the "Canada-US Declaration on Goods and Services", the first major step towards the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.


Mulroney enjoyed a close friendship with Reagan at the time; both men considered themselves conservatives politically, and shared a common agenda on many issues, notably Free Trade. This relationship was favourably contrasted in Canada with that between the Prime Minister's and President's predecessors, Pierre Trudeau and Richard Nixon, though it also bred some resentment among those who felt it was improper for Canadian-US relations to be too intimate. Canadian historian Jack Granatstein said that this "public display of sucking up to Reagan may have been the single most demeaning moment in the entire political history of Canada's relations with the United States."[4]


  1. ^ Ferguson, Will (1997). "11". Why I Hate Canadians. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 112–113. ISBN 1-55054-600-7. 
  2. ^ Steele, Andrew. "Mr. Angry and Mr. Happy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 13, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Shamrock Summit seen as 'turning point' for U.S.-Canada relations", CBC News, 18 August 1999
  4. ^ Thompson, John Herd; Randall, Stephen J. (2010-05-31). Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. University of Georgia Press. p. 265. Retrieved 2014-01-14.