Brian Mulroney Biography
Claim to Fame: Former Canadian Prime Minister
Date of Birth: March 20, 1939
Diabetes Type: 2
Quote: “If everything is very important, then nothing is important.”
Born in the small town of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Martin Brian Mulroney became the third of six children in his family. A native English speaker, Mulroney became fluent in French as he grew up in the mostly French-speaking Baie Comeau. His Irish-Canadian father supported the working class family through employment as an electrician at a newsprint mill.
In his hometown, Mulroney witnessed how social status inflicted societal limitations, as well as observed prejudice against French-speaking Canadians in Quebec. Such inequities encouraged Mulroney to pursue a career in politics.
After attending St. Thomas College High School in New Brunswick, Mulroney entered Saint Francis Xavier University. There, he became prime minister of St. Francis of Xavier’s model of Canadian parliament and joined the conservative party. After earning his B.A. from Saint Francis, Mulroney entered Laval University to pursue a degree in law. Fellow students elected Mulroney as Vice President of the Conservative Students' Federation. Further establishing Mulroney’s status as an up-and-coming political leader was his appointment to student advisor to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1961. He surprised his fellow students when he brought Diefenbaker in to speak to his law class.
In 1965, Mulroney joined the Quebec Bar. That same year, he began a successful law career in Montreal, specializing in labor law. He married Mila Pivnicki in 1973. She and Mulroney would have one daughter and three sons together.
Mulroney became a member of the Cliche Commission in 1974, a group created to investigate criminal activity in Quebec’s construction industry. The Commission uncovered great corruption, causing Mulroney to acquire local celebrity status as well as receive death threats. In 1976, Mulroney tried to become leader of the Progressive Conservatives, but lost the vote. He was, however, elected as Vice President of the Iron Ore Company, and then President the following year. He kept that title until 1983.
Mulroney was chosen as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in June 1983. The next year, in a landslide victory, he became prime minister after running the most successful election campaign in Canadian history.
As prime minister, Mulroney drove towards closer cooperation between Canada and the U.S. regarding issues such as trade policies and acid rain in North America. Canada’s economy in the mid-1980s reflected Mulroney’s competence as prime minister; there was strong economic growth, high levels of job creation, and minimal inflation. Under his leadership, the government pursued reforms of industry regulation and tax structure. He experienced some turbulence during his prime minister career, undergoing controversy regarding the Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accords, as well as the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
Mulroney was reelected in 1988. His two terms as prime minister were marked by consistent efforts to unify Canada while recognizing Quebec as a distinct society. He announced his retirement in early 1993, ending a nine-year run. Mulroney endured modest success during his prime minister career, one of the longest in Canadian history.
After retiring, Mulroney revisited law, working with Ogilvy Renault in Montreal, as well as on the boards of several major companies. In 2007, he published memoirs recapitulating his transition from working-class childhood to Canadian politics.
In late June 2010, at the age of 71, Mulroney noticed a change in his health. He experienced declines in energy and was often fazed with fatigue. The following September, a doctor diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes. He now undergoes daily insulin injections and reports feeling “terrific.”
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