'Rely on your instincts,' Margaret Thatcher told new PM Joe Clark

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'Rely on your instincts,' Margaret Thatcher told new PM Joe Clark

OTTAWA - British archival records reveal Margaret Thatcher told Joe Clark to rely on his own instincts the day after the electoral triumph that made him Canada's youngest prime minister.

In a congratulatory phone call, Britain's fledgling Iron Lady confided to Clark that the keys to her initial success were forming a well-balanced government and making decisions only when she was ready.

Thursday marks the 35th anniversary of Clark's short-lived victory over Pierre Trudeau's Liberal party.

As 1979 drew to a close, Clark's minority Progressive Conservative government fell on a non-confidence motion, opening the door to Trudeau's return to power in March 1980.

But all that seemed unthinkable on May 23, 1979, as Clark credited Thatcher's Conservatives — who had taken office just weeks earlier — for helping steer Canadian voters to the right.

A transcript of the brief conversation was unearthed in Britain's National Archives by The Canadian Press with the help of Steve Hewitt, a senior lecturer in the history department of the University of Birmingham.

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Organizations: Clark's, National Archives, Canadian Press University of Birmingham

Geographic location: Britain, OTTAWA, Canada

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