Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney dies at 84

| Updated: 01 March, 2024 4:32 pm IST

NEW DELHI : Brian Mulroney, who served as Canada’s 18th prime minister from 1984 to 1993 and led the country through major economic and constitutional reforms, has died at the age of 84, his daughter announced on Thursday.

Mulroney, who was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, to a working-class Irish-Canadian family, rose to prominence as a lawyer and a businessman before entering politics. He became the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1983 and won a landslide victory in the 1984 federal election, ending nearly 16 years of Liberal rule.

As prime minister, Mulroney pursued an ambitious agenda that included signing a free trade agreement with the United States, introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), privatizing some Crown corporations, and negotiating the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords to recognize Quebec as a distinct society and reform the Senate.

Mulroney also championed environmental causes, such as the acid rain treaty with the U.S. and the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, and took a strong stance against apartheid in South Africa, imposing sanctions and urging other Commonwealth countries to follow suit.

However, Mulroney also faced many challenges and controversies during his tenure, such as the rise of the Reform Party and the Bloc Québécois, the failure of the constitutional accords, the recession of the early 1990s, the Airbus scandal, and the GST protests. His popularity plummeted to record lows and he resigned as prime minister in 1993, handing over the leadership to Kim Campbell, who led the party to a historic defeat in the subsequent election.

After leaving office, Mulroney returned to the private sector and remained active in public life, serving on various boards and foundations, writing his memoirs, and advising his successors. He also faced a legal battle with the federal government over allegations of accepting kickbacks from a German businessman, which he denied and eventually settled out of court.

Mulroney is survived by his wife, Mila, and their four children, Caroline, Ben, Mark, and Nicolas. Caroline Mulroney is currently the Ontario Minister of Transportation and Francophone Affairs, and Ben Mulroney is a television personality and former host of CTV’s eTalk.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences to the Mulroney family and praised the former prime minister for his contributions to Canada. “Brian Mulroney was a visionary leader who made a lasting impact on our country and the world. He was a champion of free trade, a defender of human rights, and a friend to many. He will be remembered for his service, his achievements, and his love for Canada,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Other political leaders, such as Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, also offered their tributes and condolences to the Mulroney family.

A state funeral for Mulroney will be held in Ottawa at a later date, according to his family.

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