Right Honourable Brian Mulroney 1939-2024 R.I.P.

Written by  //  March 23, 2024  //  Absent Friends, Canada  //  1 Comment

Canadian Press file photo

23 March
IN PHOTOS: State funeral for Brian Mulroney
Hundreds fill Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal to remember former prime minister

He stole the show
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) Leave it to BRIAN MULRONEY to steal the show at his own funeral.
The pews of Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica were full, but not with the typical tourists and worshippers who file in and out of the church each day.
This was a room of mourners few Canadians could inspire: most living prime ministers and governors general, most sitting and several former premiers, generations of conservative politicians and operatives, political rivals who built careers on Mulroney’s failures, old-money corporate elite, and A-list celebs.
— Eclectic is an understatement: Federalist brawlers like BOB RAE, BRIAN TOBIN and JEAN CHRÉTIEN took seats in the same room as LUCIEN BOUCHARD, PAULINE MAROIS, PIERRE MARC JOHNSON and PIERRE KARL PÉLADEAU.
They all fiercely opposed Mulroney’s agenda as he transformed the country. Some wanted to merely defeat him; others wanted to break up the country he loved. All of them showed up.
— The Canadian Establishment: The guest list featured surnames such as MOLSON, BRONFMAN, WESTON, DESMARAIS and BLACK — titans present and past whose seemingly untouchable corporate might coincided with Mulroney’s rise from working-class Baie-Comeau to upper-crust Westmount. A ROGERS and an IRVING got invites, too.
— Star power: Hockey GOAT WAYNE GRETZKY delivered a eulogy laced with levity. Famed music producer DAVID FOSTER was an honorary pallbearer. RYAN REYNOLDS, the proudest Canadian in Hollywood, rounded out the celeb set.
‘We’ll meet again’: Scenes from Brian Mulroney’s state funeral
Memorial event in Montreal featured prominent Canadians and lots of music — some of Mulroney’s own making
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre and the heads of Canada’s other federal parties were in attendance, along with numerous provincial leaders. Former prime ministers Stephen Harper, Jean Chrétien and Joe Clark were there, along with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and several former governors general.
Numerous other celebrated Canadians filled the pews in Notre-Dame Basilica, including actor Ryan Reynolds, media baron Pierre Karl Péladeau (who delivered a eulogy), Loblaw head Galen Weston and founder of the Bloc Québécois Lucien Bouchard.
Mulroney’s funeral featured a number of eulogies, including words from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and Prime Minister Trudeau. Former Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest spoke about his experience working with the late prime minister as a cabinet member, and a representative of former U.S. secretary of state James Baker discussed Mulroney’s free trade legacy.
Canada bids farewell to former prime minister Brian Mulroney
By Blair Gable
(Reuters) “It’s the end of the evening for a giant but the music continues in his memory,” Trudeau told the gathering.
A corporate lawyer turned businessman, Mulroney had a broad smile and booming voice, and was known for his charm. He and his wife Mila had four children.
“My dad held an audience in the palm of his hand. Speeches were such a major part of his life that he told us that when it was his turn to go up to what he called – that great political rally in the sky – he wanted us to bury him with his podium,” his daughter Caroline Mulroney said in an eulogy.
‘He loved this country with all his heart’: Former prime minister Brian Mulroney honoured at state funeral
Friends and admirers gathered in Montreal to remember Canada’s 18th prime minister
Family, friends pay poignant tribute at Brian Mulroney’s state funeral in Montreal
“He became a truly great prime minister and a world leader, but to us he was more than that  —  he was a truly great father,” said his daughter Caroline.
The high-powered guests who attended the state funeral for former prime minister Brian Mulroney
Trudeau, former PM Chrétien, Gretzky among those who paying tribute to the late Conservative leader
(National Post) Former prime minister Brian Mulroney was remembered Saturday as a larger-than-life figure who transcended politics, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and souls of the many people he touched in a long and momentous life.
As his casket was carried out of the cathedral after a two-hour service that featured six eulogies Mulroney’s own voice filled the church, with a recording of him singing “We’ll Meet Again.”

29 February

Photo credit: Gabriel Desmarais, known as Gaby.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney dead at 84
(Canadian Press) There was no in-between with Martin Brian Mulroney.
Canadians loved him: In 1984, they handed the youthful charmer a blank cheque and the largest majority mandate in history so he could change the country.
Canadians hated him: When he announced his departure from politics in 1993, his charm was dismissed as blarney, his youth faded into a lugubrious middle-age.
He entered the job with massive support; he left with the lowest approval rating in the history of polling.
Voters pleaded for reforms when they elected him. When he tried to deliver that change — be it free trade, tax reform or a new Constitution — they reacted with wariness at best and hostility more often.
… Mulroney’s university years would also bring him into contact with those who would later help him win the leadership and serve in his government: eventual senators Lowell Murray, Michel Cogger and Jean Bazin, and the man who would become his soulmate, Lucien Bouchard.
These friends would get him to the ball. They would also be among those who would bring him some of his greatest heartache at evening’s end. [Eight ministers were forced to resign from Mulroney’s cabinet during his first four-year term. None of the scandals touched Mulroney personally, but his judgment was called into question for appointing ministers of dubious character. Many involved in scandals were his cronies, including Cogger and Bazin.]
Mulroney was indifferent about law studies, but proved to be an excellent labour lawyer after he was hired by Montreal’s largest law firm, Howard, Cate, Ogilvy.
In 1972, the year he became a partner in the firm, he met a bikini-clad Mila Pivnicki by the pool at the Mount Royal Tennis Club. She was 14 years his junior. Eventually, she would become his wife, his most trusted adviser and among the Conservative party’s most effective campaigners. The couple would have four children.
Mulroney rocketed to public notice in Quebec in 1974 after Premier Robert Bourassa appointed him to the Cliche commission investigating union violence in the construction industry.
The inquiry produced sensational headlines of union sabotage and scandalous cost overruns. It also put the effortlessly bilingual young lawyer with the honey-coated baritone on television screens every evening. …
Brian Mulroney, one of Canada’s most consequential prime ministers, is dead at 84
Baie-Comeau, Quebec-born leader negotiated U.S. free trade deal, introduced GST
(CBC) Brian Mulroney — who, as Canada’s 18th prime minister, steered the country through a tumultuous period in national and world affairs but left office deeply unpopular — has died. He was 84.
His daughter Caroline Mulroney shared the news Thursday afternoon on social media.
“On behalf of my mother and our family, it is with great sadness we announce the passing of my father, The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister. He died peacefully, surrounded by family,” she said on X, formerly Twitter.
Mulroney was one of Canada’s most controversial prime ministers. Unafraid to tackle the most challenging issues of his era, Mulroney pursued politics in a way that earned him devoted supporters — and equally passionate critics.

15 March
State funeral for Brian Mulroney to be held March 23 in Montreal
Prior to Mr. Mulroney’s funeral, he will lie in state in Ottawa and lie in repose in Montreal.
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, former Quebec premier Jean Charest and James Baker – U.S. secretary of state under president George H.W. Bush – will be among the speakers delivering eulogies at next week’s state funeral service for former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Caroline Mulroney, his daughter and current Ontario Treasury Board president, will also deliver a eulogy to her father at next Saturday’s service at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal.
He will lie in state in Ottawa on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Trudeau and the Governor-General, among other dignitaries, expressing their sympathies to the family. There will be an opportunity for the public to pay their respects then, as well as at a lying-in-repose ceremony to take place in Montreal on Thursday and Friday at Saint Patrick’s Basilica.
The former prime minister’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, will be among the artists performing musical interludes at the funeral ceremony.

A cartoonist’s unlikely friendship with Brian Mulroney
His reaction to my caricatures? All he could do was grit his teeth, grin and bear it.
Terry Mosher
Older Gazette readers may find this hard to believe, but I always liked Brian Mulroney. It’s just that, as a cartoonist, I’ve never believed in friendship getting in the way of a good laugh or lampoon.
“Bones,” his nickname in university, provided hundreds of opportunities for me and my fellow scribblers to lampoon with abandon, with so many scandals having taken place during his close to 10-year reign as prime minister of Canada.

‘A great Quebecer’: politicians of all stripes pay tribute to Brian Mulroney
Andy Riga
Politicians of all stripes and from both sides of the separatist-federalist divide are paying tribute to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who died on Thursday.
Mulroney “was committed to this country, loved it with all his heart and served it many many years in many different ways,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Tom Mulcair: Fond memories of Mulroney’s ‘blarney’ and empathy
When I was in a spot of trouble, he gave me a call. What transpired next blew me away.
… In the spring of 2016, I was heading for what was promising to be a challenging leadership review in Edmonton. … Word came in from a colleague that Mulroney was trying to reach me. I gladly accepted his call and what transpired next blew me away.
Mulroney followed everything in politics. He knew that I was in a tough spot, and he clearly felt a lot of empathy. He was avuncular, generous and very funny. His earthy choice of words still rings in my ears: “If those so and so’s (expletives deleted) are stupid enough to vote against you, I hope you just (expletive deleted) slam the door.”

Bob Rae: Brian Mulroney Dared Greatly
(Policy) The former prime minister’s death has unleashed a wave of emotion about an extraordinary man. Many comments have focused on his ability to reach out and connect. He was better at this than any other public figure I have known and worked with. Mulroney understood that all politics is not just local, it’s personal.
In two mandates, Brian achieved much. He saw great changes in the world, and provided leadership at home and abroad. He did not get the changes to Canada’s constitution he wanted, but he tried nobly to do so. He was a person of vision who was also a skillful manager of people and issues.
He had flaws, but disloyalty, unkindness and mean-spiritedness were not among them. As he himself admitted, he followed impulses that led him down the wrong path, but even in the valleys he found resilience and courage. His public persona could be too formal, but the private man was personal, warm, and candid. …
He did not play the piano or the guitar, but he sure knew how to play the telephone. A gathering of “people called by Brian” would fill a football stadium, with room for overflow. I first met him at my brother John’s wedding to his wife Phyllis in Montreal, well over forty years ago. He was recovering from his defeat in the 1976 Conservative leadership race, and I was finishing up law school, soon to become an NDP member of parliament. He could not have been more friendly or charming, and as our careers took their twists and turns through the 1980’s, we kept in touch on the phone.
The failure of Manitoba and Newfoundland to ratify the Meech Lake Accord, and the defeat of the Charlottetown Accord in a national referendum, were emotional blows he felt deeply until the day he died. I was proud to work with him on both those journeys. I was not a supporter of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) when it was negotiated, because it failed to provide Canadian exporters with the guarantee of access to the US without political harassment. But I also recognized that once passed, there was no going back.
Brian Mulroney’s loathing of discrimination was best demonstrated in his leadership in fighting apartheid in South Africa. There were many conservatives in Canada, as well as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan beyond, who did not agree with him, but he did not back away from the fight. Together with Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who shared many of Brian’s qualities, he was determined that the “old Commonwealth” should not abandon the new. He established a line of communication with the African National Congress (ANC), and his efforts to free Mandela at a time when world opinion was shifting but not yet at a tipping point proved decisive. When I met Mandela in Toronto in 1990, he said that “No two people did more for the struggle in South Africa than Stephen Lewis and Brian Mulroney.”
Equally important, Brian was “present at the creation” of post- Communist Eastern Europe. As the first Western leader to recognize Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there is no doubt where he stood in Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression.
I also knew Brian Mulroney as a negotiator. He could bang the table with the best of them. He honed his skills as a labour lawyer for management, serving on the Cliche Commission in Quebec, and knew when to shout, when to sing, and when to make a deal. He also knew how to lead, not afraid to bend a little, but also not afraid to push ahead if he felt he was right. His great skill was bringing people along with him, knowing that just sitting around waiting for consensus was not going to work. …

Long-running feud with Brian Mulroney ended recently, Lucien Bouchard says
“It was a very, very painful rupture that … shouldn’t have happened. But we realized that and we reconciled at the end.”
Andy Riga
The two didn’t speak for decades, with Mulroney reportedly telling friends that if Bouchard showed up at his funeral, the service was to be stopped.
But, after Mulroney’s death at the age of 84 this week, Bouchard revealed the two had recently become close again.
The reconciliation began more than a year ago but intensified over the past few months, with the two speaking regularly by phone and socializing in Florida.
“He was a great friend of Quebec and for me, a personal friend,” an emotional Bouchard, 85, said of Mulroney in an interview with TVA on Thursday.
“We ate together in Florida during the holidays. We spoke last Friday again. We spoke to each other quite often.
“We can’t be 84-85 years old, after the life we lived, without remembering everything that brought us together. We were the greatest friends, a fraternal friendship even. We spent our university years together. Most of my adult life has been together on the same path that we have travelled together.”
«Tu ne pouvais pas rencontrer Brian Mulroney sans l’aimer», raconte Lucien Bouchard
(TVA) M. Bouchard soutient que non seulement M. Mulroney était «un grand ami du Québec», mais ils étaient, eux aussi, des «amis personnels».
«C’était une amitié tumultueuse, interrompue trop longtemps par des différends politiques, des différends fondés sur des convictions», s’attriste-t-il.
Bien que ces désaccords entre les deux hommes aient effrité leur relation, M. Bouchard est ravi qu’ils n’aient jamais mis un terme à leur amitié et qu’il ait réussi à se réconcilier.
Aujourd’hui, il regrette cependant de s’être réconcilié avec M. Mulroney aussi tard, soit seulement quelques mois avant sa mort.
Il se rappelle que la glace s’est brisée lors de quelques appels téléphoniques, une visite à la demeure du défunt et aussi au mariage de la fille à Luc Lavoie, également présent sur le plateau.
«On a mangé ensemble en Floride durant les fêtes, raconte M. Bouchard. On s’est parlé vendredi dernier, encore. On se parlait assez souvent.»

Brian Mulroney, a Canadian Leader of International Consequence
By Jeremy Kinsman
His death has been unsettling for those who remember such strengths. While his leadership at home sometimes ran into troubled waters, internationally, he was a rare leader of real beneficial consequence.
(Policy) In the hours and days following his death, tributes to Brian Mulroney’s international influence were delivered by many notables, including James Baker, US master of everything in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. The warm Mulroney-Reagan relationship shifted the ground between Canada and the US, though the prime minister’s closest personal international relationship was with the first Bush.
Together, and with such other strong leaders as Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterrand, and Helmut Kohl, these leaders shaped a relationship of trust with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that ended the Cold War. Yeltsin considered Mulroney the western leader he trusted most during those critical years of challenging change.
On 19 August, 1991, when a putsch by old Soviet communist hard-liners announced that control of the country had been seized from Mikhail Gorbachev, other Western leaders were initially wavering to see how it turned out. Analysts who were Cold War survivors counselled such caution, since we may have had to live with the new regime. When the prime minister got wind of such cautionary advice from the Soviet desk officers in Ottawa, I had a rare call from Mulroney himself. I assured him this was just Cold War muscle memory. He said, “Jeremy, that’s not who we are. This is about principles we believe in.”
Within hours, our Moscow embassy had patched through a call from Brian Mulroney to Boris Yeltsin who was mounting a strong campaign of public resistance (I think he took the call on a cell phone atop that famous tank). The Prime Minster pledged Canada’s total support to Gorbachev (and Yeltsin). Within hours, Canada’s G-7 and NATO partners were pledging the same.
When it came to human rights, there was never any uncertainty from Canada during Mulroney’s time as to “who we are.” As Lucien Bouchard and Jean Charest recalled on Radio-Canada following his passing, Mulroney, as a leader, always did the courageous thing that came from “who we are” and who we could be. As they said, he didn’t do so from political calculation or focus groups, but from principle. As Bouchard observed, “Il avait du coeur.”
This authenticity and Mulroney’s personal warmth and emotional intelligence were the basis of his influence with his international peers. They ensured that Canada punched in world affairs above our weight. It was Mulroney who told Bush in August 1990 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait that the US had to get the Security Council to agree to authorize a UN force, and if he called Francois Mitterrand, France would be on board. Bush did, France was, and it all succeeded. Mulroney wasn’t just words —he made sure that Canada was an all-in participant with our largest expeditionary force since the Korean War.

*See Comment below from (former ambassador) John W. Graham regarding to Jeremy Kinsman and Diana Nicholson
“A footnote to add [to] the impressive and growing compendium of Mulroney achievements and strengths. First, Jean-Paul Hubert rightly suggests that the Mulroney decision to join the OAS in 1989 should be on the list – and this proved to be much more than a gesture to collect headlines.” …

His diplomacy as leader was personal, conveying the strength of his convictions, and the breadth of his contacts. Mulroney had things to say to his peers, and some were harsh when necessary, as on the necessity of crushing apartheid, or committing to global defense of the environment.

I became accustomed to doing press briefings at NATO and G7 summits and on his official visits in Moscow that were standing-room only, because Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney was there and he had something important to say.

Brian Mulroney, champion of free trade, brought Canada closer to the U.S. during his reign as prime minister
Thomas Klassen, Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, York University
(The Conversation) Brian Mulroney…will be remembered for many things, but his most significant decision during two terms in office was to link Canada’s future with the United States.
Unlike Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal prime minister who had a rocky relationship with several U.S. presidents during the 1960s, ‘70s and ’80s, Mulroney was an unabashed Americanophile.
After all, he grew up in Baie-Comeau, Que., a town founded by a wealthy American industrialist — Robert Rutherford McCormick — to produce cheap newsprint for New York and Chicago papers. Mulroney would at times reminisce that as a child he sang songs for McCormick to earn small monetary rewards.
Mulroney’s admiration for American capitalism was evident in his political polices. Within a year after being elected with a large majority in 1984, Mulroney stated he wanted to negotiate a free trade agreement with the United States.
Shortly after that, Mulroney hosted then U.S. president Ronald Reagan for what was called the “Shamrock Summit” in Québec City. The two leaders, both of whom were proud of their Irish heritage, took to the stage at the summit and famously launched into a rendition of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.
While some Canadians may have cringed at the sight of the two men warbling together, Mulroney’s close relationship with Reagan was a political asset for the Progressive Conservative leader.

Above All, a Transcendent Talent for Friendship: Brian Mulroney, 1939-2024
By Anthony Wilson-Smith
(Policy) There was a time – many years, in fact – when those who knew Mulroney well would have been astonished to hear him so sanguine about past slights. As a negotiator of extraordinary skill, first in business and then politics, he knew how to compartmentalize his feelings and hold his emotions in check in public. But with those he trusted, he could go ‘full Irish’ and openly show his anger. But in the later years of his life, he managed the decidedly un-Irish trick of forsaking grudges as though elegantly disposing of excess baggage.
That was striking because Mulroney spent much of his life doing everything – emotions, ambitions, achievements – on an oversized scale. It was one reason so many people were devoted to him and others were not. With his Palm Beach wardrobe, FM radio announcer’s baritone, and endless array of anecdotes, he came across to some as too slick, expansive and, therefore, untrustworthy. He always liked the so-called finer things in life – the most expensive clothes, lifestyle highlights, addresses – and, as soon as he was able, began acquiring them.
He had a bad habit, in his early days as an elected politician, of making crowd-pleasing statements that came back to haunt him. Case in point: when he mocked the public service as bloated before becoming prime minister and promised he would give many of its members “pink slips and running shoes.” Not surprisingly, he found an uncooperative bureaucracy when he arrived in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was famous (among journalists) for being an excellent ‘unnamed source’ before running for office himself: he then was astonished and angry when he became the subject of critical stories from those same journalists — often based on leaks from other ‘unnamed sources’ — after he was in office.
But Mulroney’s detractors were often so keen to pile on him that they overlooked his many undeniable strengths. Few people worked harder or more strategically – especially after his marriage to Mila, who brought him, among many things, focus and greater self-discipline as part of an extraordinary life partnership. (That notably includes the crucial decision to quit drinking in the late 1970s, which he told a friend “added four hours” to his already long working days.)
He had a bad habit, in his early days as an elected politician, of making crowd-pleasing statements that came back to haunt him. Case in point: when he mocked the public service as bloated before becoming prime minister and promised he would give many of its members “pink slips and running shoes.” Not surprisingly, he found an uncooperative bureaucracy when he arrived in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was famous (among journalists) for being an excellent ‘unnamed source’ before running for office himself: he then was astonished and angry when he became the subject of critical stories from those same journalists — often based on leaks from other ‘unnamed sources’ — after he was in office.
But Mulroney’s detractors were often so keen to pile on him that they overlooked his many undeniable strengths. Few people worked harder or more strategically – especially after his marriage to Mila, who brought him, among many things, focus and greater self-discipline as part of an extraordinary life partnership. (That notably includes the crucial decision to quit drinking in the late 1970s, which he told a friend “added four hours” to his already long working days.) …

Mulroney helped end the Cold War
Paul Wells: Guest columnist Ian Brodie on “a grand strategist of the 20th Century”
I’m grateful for thoughtful friends. Ian Brodie at the University of Calgary sent me this reflection on the foreign-policy contribution of Brian Mulroney, who passed away Thursday at the age of 84.
A full reckoning of Mulroney’s contributions and shortcomings would take weeks, run to thousands of words, and in the nature of things, spark endless heated debates. This isn’t that. Consider it a first look at one aspect of an extraordinary career, by a close observer. — pw
Mulroney never automatically fell in with US positions on the global issues of the day. His opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa ran counter to the positions of both Reagan and Thatcher. But he drove the effort to link the American and Canadian economies through the free trade agreement. He backed our allies in the strategic competition with the Soviet bloc. And in helping to create the International Democratic Union, he helped put the west’s centre-right parties on the side of international political cooperation on the side of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law. The contrast with an earlier prime minister who could not bring himself to condemn the declaration of martial law in Poland a few years earlier was clear.
His personal relationships with a generation of American leaders gave substance to the transactional successes. As the Soviet Union came apart, he secured a spot for Canada as the first NATO country to recognize Ukraine’s independence and bolstered the independence movements of the Baltic republics. When Iraq tried to establish a precedent that, following the Cold War, large, powerful countries could invade their neighbours with impunity, Mulroney backed the US led coalition to liberate Kuwait with all the diplomatic and military power he had on hand. …

In Ottawa, every politician found something to like about Brian Mulroney
The tributes showed the extent of Mulroney’s willingness to offer advice and support to other politicians
(National Post) The House of Commons suddenly adjourned to mark the death of former prime minister Brian Mulroney on Thursday evening, so the foyer that usually bustles with reporters was cavernous and nearly deserted when 90-year-old Jean Chrétien walked to the mic to remember the man who governed Canada before him.
When news broke about Mulroney’s death, statements from politicians, staffers and sorrowful Canadians streamed across social media timelines. Chrétien’s decision to unexpectedly appear in front of half a dozen reporters and deliver a tribute in person, just as he had done after former NDP leader Ed Broadbent’s death last month, was a statement on its own.

credit: William Philpott/Reuters

Brian Mulroney, Canada’s deal maker, played for keeps
“I actually did govern not for good headlines in 10 days but for a better Canada in 10 years,” Mr. Mulroney concluded in his memoirs. “I paid the price in media hostility and public disapproval. But I did so knowingly and willingly. Leadership … is about taking positions you believe to be in Canada’s long-term interest and sticking to them.”
That he did so made his prime ministership, at its best and despite its failures, heroic.
John Ibbitson
When his tenacity and charm paid off, Canada’s 18th prime minister secured free trade with the U.S. and helped the fight against apartheid. When it didn’t, Meech Lake and the Airbus scandal cast shadows over his work
…  Quick-witted, far-sighted, able to blend impeccable logic with personal charm, Mr. Mulroney helped revive the Canadian economy, negotiated the most important trade agreement in the country’s history, reformed the nation’s finances, signed ground-breaking environmental agreements and helped lead the global fight against apartheid in South Africa.
He also led round after round of failed constitutional negotiations, so angered Western voters that they supported a new political protest party in response, even as much of his Quebec caucus deserted. By the time he left office in 1993, the Progressive Conservative Party was so unpopular that it won only two seats in the fall election. The PCs never recovered.
For years after he left office, he relentlessly sought to defend his record as prime minister and to put his spin on the latest events, calling journalists and talking their ears off. But he could never satisfactorily explain the hundreds of thousands of dollars he took in cash-stuffed envelopes from a German arms dealer. …
Yet fair-minded history, while remembering that asterisk on his honour, will remember also his courage, how willing he was to take on the most unpopular of causes, and shoulder the resulting opprobrium, if he felt that cause was necessary and just. And it will remember how intensely he fought to bequeath a Canada at peace with itself and proud in the world. If he didn’t quite get there, it was not for lack of trying, or passion.

Brian Mulroney, former Canadian PM, dies aged 84
Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative PM, ‘never stopped working for Canadians,’ Justin Trudeau says after his death
(The Guardian) Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister who struck a free trade deal with the US but whose legacy was marred by revelations of improper business dealings with an arms dealer, has died at the age of 84.
His daughter announced the death in a social media post.
“On behalf of my mother and our family, it is with great sadness we announce the passing of my father, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th prime minister. He died peacefully, surrounded by family,” Caroline Mulroney wrote late on Thursday.
Mulroney’s family said last summer he was improving daily after a heart procedure that followed treatment for prostate cancer in early 2023.
“Brian Mulroney loved Canada. I’m devastated to learn of his passing. He never stopped working for Canadians, and he always sought to make this country an even better place to call home,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister Who Led Canada Into NAFTA, Dies at 84
He signed the historic free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico but was shadowed by scandal.
(NYT) [He] died on Thursday in a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had a home. He was 84.
A spokesman for his daughter Caroline Mulroney, a cabinet minister in Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, said Mr. Mulroney had been hospitalized after a fall at his home. “He died peacefully, surrounded by family,” Ms. Mulroney wrote.
He prided himself on being a confidant of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; on promoting a thaw between Moscow and Washington in the closing days of the Cold War; and on going much further than either the United States or Britain in imposing sanctions against white-ruled South Africa to press for the release of Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of apartheid.
For all that, there was a darker, less visible side to him. In 2005, a book of edited transcripts of hundreds of hours of taped interviews recorded over many years was published by a veteran journalist, Peter C. Newman. The transcripts showed Mr. Mulroney to be, in the words of Clifford Krauss of The New York Times, a “foul-mouthed, insecure man with an enemies list that sprawls from Vancouver to Halifax.”

One Comment on "Right Honourable Brian Mulroney 1939-2024 R.I.P."

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 4, 2024 at 8:50 pm ·

    John W. Graham to Jeremy Kinsman and Diana Nicholson
    A footnote to add the impressive and growing compendium of Mulroney achievements and strengths. First, Jean-Paul Hubert rightly suggests that the Mulroney decision to join the OAS in 1989 should be on the list – and this proved to be much more than a gesture to collect headlines. He, and his foreign minister, Joe Clark, became actively and constructively engaged in the region, especially Haiti and Central America, the latter because it had become a bloody Russian/American battleground. Haiti was, as now, a special case. Brutally and appallingly governed it occupied either the first or last places on all the economic indices of the region depending which is designated ‘worst’ and shared (I think) with Bolivia the record of the greatest number of coup d’etats in the Hemisphere. In 1991 Jean Bertrand Aristide, the reformer and aspiring authoritarian was overthrown by his military with the support of most of the country’s bourgoisie. His good qualities (he had others) and apparent commitment to democracy had attracted President Mitterand (especially Mitterand’s wife), President Clinton and Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela, the most internationalist president in Latin America at the time. Mulroney was an active member of this quartet and on a visit to Caracas found a soul mate in Perez. Tragically events were in motion in Port-au-Prince and it proved too late to salvage Aristide at that time. One upside of this was the opportunity to spend time with Mulroney on his visit to Caracas (and for Judy to spend time with Mila). I was much impressed and enjoyed the time with him. Subsequently I saw Mulroney in the National Palace in P au P ( later to be destroyed be the earthquake). M was in the palace to receive one of Haiti’s highest decorations ( a huge gong that weighed down his jacket) at the hands of Aristide. Good days for Aristide and for Haiti – soon to dissolve into a nightmare that gets worse. Mulroney and Joe Clark were the best things to happen to our relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.

    NB Canada and the OAS: From Dilettante to Full Partner

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