Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with USA President Ronald Reagan in Ottawa Canada. April 1987. Photo by Greg Locke. © 2024

Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th prime minister, died on Feb. 29, aged 84.

Excerpt from Canadian Journalist:

His daughter Caroline Mulroney, an Ontario MPP, announced his death 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 … He died peacefully, surrounded by family.”

In 1983 Mulroney won his first federal election, for the Progressive Conservatives in 1983, and served as prime minister from 1984 to 1993, when he resigned. In the federal election later that year, the Tories were massively defeated, winning just two of 295 seats in the House of Commons.

Mulroney is Canada’s last moderate Progressive Conservative prime minister. The party officially eliminated the six-decade old “Progressive” part of the name when it merged with the Canadian Alliance in 2003, to become the Conservative Party of Canada.

Mulroney’s term was consequential, including his successes inking the Canada-U.S. Free Trade deal (and later NAFTA), the Acid Rain Treaty, sustained opposition to South African apartheid, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. But his failed efforts at constitutional reform left deep scars on the country, especially in Quebec.

He was a divisive leader, creating deep rifts between those who favour the free market economics that he championed, and social democrats. He was once accused by author Mel Hurtig of “selling off our country.” Joe Hartley, Macdonald-Laurier Institute. compared him favourably to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as “unabashedly pro-freedom in terms of the markets … Mr. Mulroney ultimately triumphed with a message of free enterprise, competition and innovation.”

And he was, and remains, controversial, with his record tarnished by corruption allegations. His taking several hundred thousand dollars from Canadian-German arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber led to a commission of inquiry by Justice Jeffrey Oliphant. In 2010 Oliphant concluded, “Mr. Mulroney’s failure to disclose those business and financial dealings was inappropriate. Simply put, Mr. Mulroney, in his business and financial dealings with Mr. Schreiber, failed to live up to the standard of conduct that he had himself adopted in the 1985 Ethics Code.”

But even in the early retrospection following his death, Mulroney’s portrait is neither starkly black nor pearly white. His passing was mourned by the left-wing Broadbent Institute, which noted that Mulroney and the late NDP leader Ed Broadbent-once ferocious opponents in Parliament-together established the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development in 1988, to “encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world … Broadbent and Mulroney found common ground to work together on issues of human rights and democracy.”

Read more by me, with Greg Locke, on Canadian Journalist.


Curious free range human. Creative writer, journalist, photographer