Mulroney

     Mulroney became the 18th prime minister of Canada on September 17, 1984, after
his party, the Progressive Conservatives won the greatest parliamentary victory
ever in Canadian history. Mulroney was born in 1939, the son of an electrician,
in the paper mill town of Baie Comeau, Quebec. Mulroney attended a very strict
military type all boys’ school until the age of 16 when he entered Saint

Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. There he earned an honor
degree in political science. While at St. FX he was active in on campus
politics. During his first year he became a member of the youth wing of the P.C.

Party of Nova Scotia. Before he graduated he was to become the Prime Minister of

St. FX’s famous mock Parliament, a position that had been held for years by

Liberal students. After graduation he studied law at Dalhousie in Halifax and
later at Laval University in Quebec, from which he graduated in 1962. It was
during these years in Quebec that Mulroney became known as the life of the
party. He frequented most Montreal nightclubs and was quite a lady’s man.

Mulroney also became a slightly more than social drinker. After becoming a
lawyer in 1965 he joined a prestigious law firm known as Cate Ogilvy, later
becoming a partner in that firm. In May 1973 at the age of 34 he married a
beautiful 20 year old Mila Pivnicki, daughter of Yugoslav immigrants. The

Mulroneys would go on to have three children. Mulroney worked energetically for
the Progressive Conservative Party as a young lawyer, serving on the party's
finance and policy committees and on its 1968 and 1972 campaign committees. He
first came into the public eye in 1974 as a member of the Cliche Royal

Commission, which investigated corruption and violence in the Quebec
construction industry. Also involved in this commission was Mulroney’s friend
and future Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard. Although Mulroney had not yet held
public office, he ran for election as Conservative leader at the party's 1976
national convention. He waged a vigorous and expensive campaign but lost to Joe

Clark after being critisized as the Cadillac Cantidate for spending so much
money. Following this failure, Mulroney became very depressed and bitter. This
was a very bleak time in his life. His drinking and his tongue often got him in
trouble. During this period he would often attend social events, get very drunk,
and make an ass of himself. He took the Leadership loss very personally and it
almost ruined him. A few years after taking the job of President of the Iron Ore

Company of Canada in 1977 he decided that he would clean himself up. He went to
special Alcoholics Anonomous meetings for famous people who didn’t want the
world to know they had a problem. After this time in his life he almost never
had a drink and never repeated his drunken outbursts at any social functions.

During his years as a corporate executive, Mulroney remained active in politics,
taking every occasion to increase his visibility among the public and to gain
support from within the party for his upcoming leadership bid. In 1982, because
of an economic depression, the Iron Ore Company of Canada was forced to close
one of its mining and milling towns in Quebec. At first this appeared to be a
disastrous political setback for Mulroney. However, he turned it into a public
relations triumph by making the people of the town in question believe that
there were other alternatives when there were none and by negotiating generous
settlements for the workers who had lost their jobs. This earned him respect and
won him general support and his reputation as an expert labor lawyer and
industrial relations specialist was enhanced. After the election most of his
promises were shown to be false hopes but by that time the people had already
decided. In mid-1983 Clark's leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party
was being questioned, forcing him to call a national party convention and
leadership review. Brian Mulroney was again a candidate, and he campaigned more
shrewdly than he had done seven years before. He actually had been paying people
to ruin Clarks chances of getting the nomination again. He had suffered through
one dark period in his life he resolved there would be no more. 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

Quebec. After a by-election in the riding of Central Nova Mulroney entered the

House of Commons on August 28, 1983. Despite inexperience, he was an effective
leader of the opposition against the well-respected Liberal Prime Minister,

Pierre Elliot Trudeau. When Trudeau retired in June 1984, the Liberal Party
chose John Turner as its new leader. Turner called a general election for

September. The new Prime Minister was hampered by a lack of political skills,
having been out of politics for some nine years. In addition, his party was top
heavy and old after 16 years in office. Consequently, Turner's electoral
campaign against Mulroney was difficult. The campaign featured three debates
between the two party leaders, during which both English and French were spoken.

In these debates, Mulroney, who is bilingual, speaking both English and French
fluently, won wide support for the Conservatives. 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. Their
greatest success was in Mulroney's native province of Quebec, which up to then
had been a Liberal stronghold. Canadian politics was transformed from

Conservative domination of the west and Liberal domination of the east to a
nationwide majority for the Conservatives. After being full of energy constantly
the entire campaign Mulroney calmly sat in a chair in his hotel room and took
the news of his victory with hardly a word spoken. He said "I didn’t realize
the full implications of what had happened until the RCMP followed me into the
bathroom." Under Mulroney's leadership, the party took
"middle-of-the-road" positions on most issues and attracted widespread
support. Mulroney possessed the essential ingredients for a successful Canadian
politician: bilingualism and identification with both English-speaking Canada
and French-speaking Canada. Also, since his wife was Yugoslavian, the public
associated him with immigrant groups. In addition, Mulroney's emphasis on the
need for national unity and improved relations between the federal and
provincial governments promised Canadians a new era of harmony after the
difficult years under former Prime Minister Trudeau. During the election
campaign, the depressed state of the Canadian economy and Canada's somewhat
tense relations with the United States (stemming from economic protectionism on
both sides and from environmental issues) were problems that Mulroney promised
to deal with if his party were returned to power. With unemployment at more than

11 percent, Mulroney also pledged to make job creation his first aim. As Prime

Minister, Mulroney presided over an economic upswing. Unemployment, however,
remained very high. Although U.S. President Ronald Reagan was uncompromising on
environmental issues such as the reduction of industrial pollution Mulroney
pressed ahead. Later negotiating a free-trade treaty with the United States
under which all tariffs between the two countries would be eliminated by 1998.

However, the benefits of free trade were undone by a combination of an
overvalued Canadian dollar, a new goods and services tax (1991), and a severe
recession. In 1993 the Canadian government signed a further agreement with the

United States and Mexico to create a free-trade zone. The North American Free

Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect January 1, 1994. Another concern for

Mulroney was the widening division in national unity. For years, many people in
the province of Quebec had believed that their French-Canadian culture merited
distinct status within the Canadian Constitution, and a widespread movement to
separate 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 Quebec's demand for recognition as a "distinct
society" within Canada. However, many other distinct societies within

Canada objected to Quebec’s special treatment. This led to its failure when

Manitoba and Newfoundland, distinct societies themselves, did not ratify it
before the 1990 ratification deadline. This failure sparked a major separatist
revival in Quebec 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 Quebec as a distinct society. However, the agreement
was defeated in the national referendum of October 1992. As well as some great
failures in his career as P.M. Mulroney would be remembered for some good things
such as the Nunavut Agreement with the Inuit of the eastern arctic, which set in
motion the creation of a third Canadian Territory. Also his reputation
internationally was boosted by his tough stand on South African Apartheid. He
was also an architect of the Francophone summit, which is a yearly meeting of
the leaders of the worlds French speaking nations. Though Mulroney had retained
a parliamentary majority in the 1988 elections, widespread public opposition to
the free-trade agreement and his inability to resolve the Quebec problem caused

Mulroney's popularity to decline sharply, and he resigned in 1993. He was
replaced as P.M. and head of the Progressive Conservative Party by Defense

Minister Kim Campbell, a girl.