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Martin Brian Mulroney

Prime Minister of Canada, 1984-1993

Martin Brian Mulroney

Martin Brian Mulroney was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, on March 20, 1939. He received his Bachelor of Arts from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, in 1959, and his law degree from Laval University in Quebec City, in 1964.

Mulroney became involved in politics during his university days and joined the Conservative Party. He campaigned for the Tories in Nova Scotia in 1956. He also served as Prime Minister of St. Francis of Xavier's Model Parliament. While at Laval he was elected Vice-President of the Conservative Students' Federation. In 1961 he was a student advisor to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

In 1964, Mulroney was hired by the law firm of Howard, Cate, Ogilvy et al, and moved to Montreal to work with them. One of his first challenges at the firm was working on Laurent Picard's Commission of Inquiry on the St. Lawrence Ports, where he gained experience as a negotiator in labor relations.

Mulroney first gained prominence as a member of the Cliche Commission of Inquiry, 1974-1975. The Commission was established by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa to investigate the Quebec construction industry. Its final report contained a scathing account of unprecedented violence and corruption in the industry.

In 1976, Mulroney ran for federal leadership of the Conservative Party, but lost. Although he was well known in Quebec as a result of his work on the Commission, he was not well known to the party outside the province. It also did not help that Mulroney had never been elected to Parliament.

After the election, Mulroney became Executive Vice-President of the Iron Ore Company of Canada; he was appointed President of the company in 1977, and served in that capacity until 1983.

In 1983, Mulroney again ran for leadership of the Conservative Party. The fact that he was the only bilingual Quebec candidate gave him a tremendous advantage. He won the leadership and gained his first seat in the House of Commons. In 1984, he led the Conservatives to their greatest majority in Canadian history, winning 211 seats in the House of Commons. The Conservatives won another sweeping majority four years later. Mulroney subsequently served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993.

Major events during his term of office include:

  • Negotiation of the Meech Lake Accord of 1987, which attempted to define conditions under which Quebec could sign the 1982 Constitution. The accord failed to become law when it was not passed by the Manitoba and Newfoundland legislatures.
  • Passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988.
  • Ratification of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1988.
  • Implementation of Canada's Green Plan for a Healthy Environment (1990).
  • Canadian participation in the Gulf War of 1991.
  • Implementation of the Goods and Services Tax of 1991.
  • Ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1992.
  • Negotiation of the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, another endeavor to secure constitutional unanimity. This measure also failed.
  • Negotiation of the Nunavut Settlement Agreement with the Inuit in 1993, which set into motion the division of the Northwest Territories into a new territory, Nunavut.

Mulroney retired from politics after leaving ofice in 1993.

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This page was last updated on 03/20/2018.