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Martin Brian Mulroney

1939 -

Labour lawyer, former Progressive Conservative prime minister of Canada (1984-1993). Mulroney won the leadership of the PC party in 1983, and a large majority government in 1984. His government negotiated significant trade agreements with the United States in 1988 and 1992, the beneficial effects of which are continuing to mount in Canada. However it also nearly quadrupled Canada's national debt by allowing government and entitlement programs to expand. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, "As leader of the Progressive Conservatives I thought [Mulroney] put too much emphasis on the adjective and not enough on the noun." He introduced a hated consumption-based Goods and Services Tax after a dishonest campaign to convince Canadians that it was "revenue-neutral", and stirred furious passions across the country with his two failed attempts, in the Meech Lake Accord (1987) and the Charlottetown Accord (1992), to broker divergent and unpopular special interests into constitutional and political peace. Mulroney resigned in 1993 to avoid humiliating defeat - his party was crushed from majority government to just two seats in the House of Commons. He may long retain the distinction of being the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history.

In 1967, when our country celebrated its one hundredth birthday, our national debt represented $4,000 for every Canadian family. Seventeen years later, the national debt represents $24.000 per family. And by 1990 -- only five years hence -- if we do not take action now, the national debt will be the equivalent of every Canadian family owing $54,000.

Dec. 10, 1984 - from a speech to the Economic Club of New York. [Despite his rhetoric Mulroney's then-new government did not take action. When disgusted voters nearly erased his party from Parliament in the 1993 election the national debt stood at over $68,000 per family. Ed.]
... at a time when the world economy was becoming more interdependent and open, Canada turned inward and interventionist. In 1974 we started down this costly path with the Foreign Investment Review Agency, and in 1981, we continued this approach with the National Energy Program. Such a direction ignored the basic lesson of our history, namely that free and unfettered access to world markets has been a boon to strong and dynamic economic growth in our country. It was indicative of the misguided belief that regulation by politicians and bureaucrats was superior to the decisions of individuals and firms competing in the global marketplace.

Dec. 10, 1984 - from a speech to the Economic Club of New York
I know full well that if you let a lie go around the world, you spend the rest of your life chasing it.

Apr. 1996 - wisdom from the least honest Prime Minister in Canadian history, quoted in the Toronto Star
Time is the ally of leaders who placed the defense of principle ahead of the pursuit of popularity. And history has little time for the marginal roles played by the carpers and complainers and less for their options. History tends to focus on the builders, the deciders, the leaders, because they are the men and women whose contributions have shaped the destiny of nations.

Jul. 15, 1997 - from a speech at the dedication of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheater
 [After a televised debate on women's issues] How did you like my courageous silence on abortion?

Aug. 15, 1984 - quoted by Michael Gratton in So, What Are The Boys Saying? page 54
 [On the patronage appointment of one-time Liberal cabinet minister Bryce Mackasey by short-lived Liberal prime minister John Turner] There's no whore like an old whore. If I'd been in Bryce's place, I would have been the first with my nose in the trough, just like all the rest of them.

Jul. 15, 1984 - quoted by Michael Gratton in So, What Are The Boys Saying?, page 26
I would certainly support getting rid of all this stuff at the borders, which inhibits progress and the free movement of goods, services and people.

2000 - quoted in "The End of Canada?", by Peter C. Newman, published in Maclean's magazine, Jan. 8, 2001
[On the National Energy Program] The market approach works... Canada was not built by expropriating retroactively other people's property. This practice is odious and shall not be followed by the new government of Canada.

Dec. 10, 1984 - from a speech to the Economic Club of New York
Any civilization which respects itself admits to its basic responsibility of providing for its members in need. But few civilizations have achieved greatness by treating all their members as needy.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
 I am not ideologically opposed to anything unless it doesn't work.

1992 - In an interview with CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge
 [Defending free trade?] Throughout our history, trade has been critical to Canada's livelihood. Now, almost one third of what we produce is exported. Few countries in the world are so dependent on trade. This trend ultimately threatens the jobs of many Canadians and the living standards of the nation as a whole. We must confront this threat. We must reverse this trend.

 Okay, we’ve won. What do we do now?

quoted by Michael Gratton in So, What Are The Boys Saying?, page 55
 Are we making proper use of taxpayers' money by giving a bank president, say, at $500,000 or $600,000 a year, a baby bonus?... I don't know the answer.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo