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This series consists of two clusters of memos, a short one titled "Notes", and a larger one titled "Diary". They are addressed, in the main, "to Jodi" (Jodi White, Clark's Chief-of-Staff). The "Diary" portion seems to be almost wholly communication with Jodi; the far larger "Notes" address the broader sweep of policy-making, and have a far broader range of communicants. Both are an inside look into how Mr. Clark managed his department, and an inside look into his mind and how he came to decisions. Above all else, they tell the "inside story" of Clark's tenure as Minister of External Affairs.
There are notes on his meetings with high officials and dignitaries with honest commentary about them, and on events and issues (such as the USSR, South Africa, the US, Japan, the EU, Nicaragua and so on). The notes critique poor preparation of files, and delve into meetings which proved unsuccessful, with instructions to prepare better for such. Mr. Clark from time to time asked for White's opinion, and certainly for the opinions of other important PC figures, on various subjects, which are collated here. He addressed operational problems within certain areas of Canada's Department of External Affairs and instructed officials to correct them. Protocol issues at the highest level are revealed. Mr. Clark also, in managing his department, showed a sensitivity to how decisions would influence the domestic political scene. He revealed his own thinking about significant foreign affairs issues which he had to address as minister. These notes and diary entries elucidate how Clark stayed in contact with other ministers and the Prime Minister in the shaping of foreign policy. And, ever the politician, the memos reveal Mr. Clark's concern with how foreign affairs decisions would be received by the Canadian public, suggesting measures to take to explain and justify them, and always weighting their political impact on the electorate and how that would affect the P.C. Party's electoral chances at home.
In short, Canada's foreign policy, the operations of the Department of External Affairs, the operations of Mr. Clark's ministerial office, the political background on which foreign policy decisions were made, autopsies of significant meetings and conclaves with foreign representatives, frank assessments of foreign representatives, advice requested and provided in the shaping of foreign policy - all this is revealed in this series. Characterized by complete honesty, it is a primary source on Canadian foreign policy in 1984-1989 equal to none.