Historians and commentators agree that one of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s greatest legacies is the Acid Rain Treaty he signed, in 1991, with President George H.W. Bush. As Leader of the Opposition and then Prime Minister, Mulroney had used every lever available to him to bring America to the table to jointly combat this environmental scourge with Canada.
On this date in 2012, the past PM was in Ottawa where he delivered a major address celebrating the accord.
“Thirty years ago, acid rain was at the top of the Canadian public policy agenda. Canadians were literally shouting at the rain. But it wasn’t even on the American radar screen,” Mulroney told his audience at an event organized by the Government of Canada. “Flash forward to March 13, 1991, 10 years almost exactly to the day from President Reagan’s visit (to Ottawa in 1981), when the first President Bush and I signed the Acid Rain Accord in the Reading Room of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.
“In 10 years, we went from yelling at one another, to talking to one another, to negotiating with one another, to making an important agreement with one another,” he continued. “Now, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Accord signed 21 years ago, acid rain is no longer a public policy issue. Not only has the dispute been resolved, the problem has been solved.”
The agreement still stands and remains one of the most significant environmental successes for Canada in the modern-era. Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.