Brian Mulroney

The Rgt. Hon. Brian Mulroney
Rank:18th
First Term:September 17, 1984 - June 25, 1993
Predecessor:John Turner
Successor:Kim Campbell
Date of Birth:March 29, 1939
Place of Birth:Baie-Comeau, Quebec
Spouse:Mila Pivnicki
Profession:businessman
Political Party:Progressive Conservative

Martin Brian Mulroney (born March 20, 1939) was the eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984 - June 25, 1993

Born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister after his Progressive Conservative Party won the largest parliamentary victory in Canadian history.

The son of a paper mill electrician, he graduated from Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, then obtained a law degree from Laval University in Quebec City. After graduation he joined a Montreal law firm and on May 26, 1973 he married Mila Pivnicki, the daughter of Yugoslav immigrants. The Mulroneys have four children: Nicolas, Mark, Ben and Caroline.

Although Brian Mulroney had not yet held public office, he had worked for the Progressive Conservative Party for years. In 1976, he ran for election as Conservative leader at the party's national convention but lost to Joe Clark. Following this, Mulroney took the job of Executive Vice President of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, a joint subsidiary of three major U.S. steel corporations. In 1977 he was appointed company President.

By mid-1983, Joe Clark's leadership of the Progressive Conservative party was being questioned, forcing him to call a national party convention and leadership elections. Brian Mulroney was again a candidate, and he campaigned more shrewdly than he had done seven years before. He was elected party leader on June 11, 1983, after attracting broad support from among the many factions of the party, especially from representatives of his native Québec. After a by-election (an election to fill empty seats in Parliament), Mulroney entered the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa on August 28, 1983.

When Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau retired in June 1984, the Liberal Party chose John Turner as its new leader, who called a general election for September. The election result was the greatest triumph for a party in Canadian history. The Conservatives led in every province, emerging as a national party for the first time since 1958.

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney's close relationship with U.S President Ronald Reagan resulted in the ratification of a free-trade treaty with the United States under which all tariffs between the two countries would be eliminated by 1998. This agreement was very controversial and was the central issue of the 1988 election, in which Mulroney's party was reelected. This trade liberalization was expanded upon in 1992 through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Another major undertaking by Mulroney's government was the divisive issue of national unity. Mulroney wanted to include Québec, the only province which never did sign the new Canadian constitution of Pierre Trudeau, in a new agreement with the rest of Canada. Such a new agreement was promised to Québec in 1980 by Canada in response to the Referendum of that year on Québec sovereignty. Additionally, for years, many people of the province of Québec had believed that their French-Canadian culture merited a distinct status within Canada, and a widespread movement to secede from Canada had developed in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1987 Mulroney orchestrated the Meech Lake Accord, a series of constitutional amendments designed to satisfy Québec's demand for recognition as a "distinct society" within Canada. However, many English-Canadians objected to the accord, and it was not ratified by the provincial governments of Manitoba and Newfoundland before the 1990 ratification deadline. This failure sparked a major separatist revival in Québec and led to another round of meetings in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1991 and 1992. These negotiations culminated in the Charlottetown Accord, which outlined extensive changes to the constitution, including recognition of Québec as a distinct society. However, the agreement was defeated in a national referendum in October 1992.

Though Mulroney had retained a parliamentary majority in the 1988 elections, widespread public resentment of a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in 1991 and his inability to resolve the Quebec situation caused Mulroney's popularity to decline, and he resigned in 1993.

He was replaced as Prime Minister and head of the Progressive Conservative Party by Defence Minister Kim Campbell. It has been argued that Mulroney's singular unpopularity was responsible for the stunning electoral defeat suffered by the Campbell government in the 1993 election. The fragmentation of the Canadian right during Mulroney's tenure, as Western conservatives left the Progressive Conservative party for the new Reform Party and Quebec conservatives left to join the separatist Bloc Québécois also contributed to the defeat of the Progressive Conservatives, and has left them a marginal party in the House of Commons ever since.

Preceded by:
John Turner
Prime Minister of Canada Followed by:
Kim Campbell

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