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Brian Mulroney

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The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney
Image:mulroney.jpg
Rank:18th
First Term:September 17, 1984 - June 25, 1993
Predecessor:John Turner
Successor:Kim Campbell
Date of Birth:March 20, 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, to June 25, 1993.

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

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Prime Minister
3 Legacy

Background

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 leadership 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. Mulroney organized to defeat Clark at the party's leadership review and when Clark received an endorsement by less than 67 percent of delegates at the party convention, Clark called a Progressive Conservative leadership convention. 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 beating Clark on the fourth ballot, after attracting broad support from among the many factions of the party, especially from representatives of his native Québec. After a by-election, Mulroney entered the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa on August 28, 1983.

When Prime Minister Pierre Elliott 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.

Prime Minister

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. Critics noted that Mulroney had originally professed opposition to free trade in 1983. This agreement was very controversial and was the central issue of the 1988 election, in which Mulroney's party was reelected with a strong majority. This trade liberalization was expanded 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 by Canada in response to the 1980 referendum on Québec sovereignty. Additionally, for years, many people of the province of Québec had believed that their French-speaking 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.

Legacy

He was replaced as Prime Minister and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party by Defence Minister Kim Campbell. Mulroney's singular unpopularity may have played a role in 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 left them a marginal party in the House of Commons. The Canadian right was not reunited until the December 2003 merger of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance (successor to the Reform Party) to form the new Conservative Party of Canada.

Preceded by:
John Turner
1984
Prime Minister of Canada
1984-1993
Followed by:
Kim Campbell
1993

Preceded by:
Erik Nielsen
Progressive Conservative Leaders Followed by:
Kim Campbell

Preceded by:
Elmer M. MacKay, PC
Members of Parliament from Central Nova Followed by:
Elmer M. MacKay, PC
 
Preceded by:
André Maltais, Liberal
Members of Parliament from Manicouagan Followed by:
Charles A. Langlois, PC
 
Preceded by:
Charles Hamelin, PC
Members of Parliament from Charlevoix Followed by:
Gérard Asselin, Bloc Québécois