Canada's Kissinger worked closely with Pierre Trudeau
National Post, Nov 4, 2004

Ivan Head, who has died at the age of 74, was the foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, known in the 1960s and '70s as Canada's Henry Kissinger. Head was a key player in Canada's recognition of the People's Republic of China in 1970. That was two years before Kissinger helped President Richard Nixon visit China, though official American recognition came later. When Trudeau travelled to China in 1973, his trusted advisor Head was with him for the meeting with Chinese Premier Chou En Lai.

Head worked with Trudeau for 11 years, starting as a special assistant when Trudeau was Justice Minister. After Trudeau became Prime Miniter, Head was his special advisor on foreign affairs. His influence caused much bitterness in the department then known as External Affairs. "He had a one-on-one relationship with Trudeau," recalled Allan Gotlieb, Canada's former ambassador to Washington who hired Head in 1967 to work in the Justice Department. "He had a major influence on Trudeau, especially in terms of the Third World and north-south affairs." Trudeau and Head came from widely different backgrounds. But they had such similar views on the world it was perhaps hard to tell who was influencing whom.

Ivan Leign Head was born in Calgary on July 28, 1930. His father was a poor Cockney immigrant, his mother an American. After local schools in Calgary he went to the University of Alberta where, apart from a brilliant academic career, he was a track star... After working with Trudeau as Justice Minister, Head became his foreign affairs advisor in 1968. For 10 years he had a huge influence on Canada's foreign policy. He wrote major speeches on foreign affairs. And when a source was quoted on Canadian foreign policy, it was often Head doing the talking. He preferred to keep a low profile, since he was never an elected official, though he often had more power than the Minister of External Affairs.

Head was a straight-speaking westerner who did not use the careful words of diplomats. One example was a crisis over the visit of Nixon in April, 1972. The trip was almost cancelled when Nixon's chief of staff, Hr. R. Haldeman, said the President should stay in the U.S. embassy, not the Governor-General's mansion, and that he only had an hour to spend with Prime Minisnter Trudeau. Head put in a call to his American counterpart, Kissinger. "I told him that if this is the President's view of the importance of the visit, we might as well cancel it," Head told a reporter years later. "Of course it wasn't Henry's view, and it wasn't the President's view." The meeting went as planned by Head, not Haldeman.

In 1978, Head left Ottawa and was appointed president of the International Development Research Centre. He stayed there for 13 years, working on his favourite project, finding ways to cure poverty in the developing world. Later he became a law professor at the University of British Columbia...



Jackie Jura
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