, Former Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, passes away at the age of 84.

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At the age of 84, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney passed away. He is known for his significant free trade agreement with the US and for signing impactful environmental accords. However, his legacy was tainted by reports of unethical business transactions with an arms dealer.

The news of his death was shared on social media by his daughter.

Caroline Mulroney conveyed the news of her father, Brian Mulroney’s passing, on behalf of her mother and family. She shared that Canada’s 18th prime minister passed away peacefully in the presence of his loved ones.

In the summer of last year, it was reported that Mulroney’s health was steadily improving following a heart surgery and prior treatment for prostate cancer in early 2023.

After hearing about the death of the former prime minister, the house of commons in Canada ended its session earlier on Thursday evening as a tribute.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Brian Mulroney, who had a great love for Canada. Despite his passing, he remained committed to bettering the lives of Canadians, continuously striving to improve our homeland,” stated Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada.

“While we grieve his death and send our well wishes to his loved ones, let us also recognize and honor the impact Mr. Mulroney had in creating the thriving and progressive nation we live in today,” Trudeau stated.

The leader of the Conservative party, Pierre Poilievre, praised Mulroney as “our most exceptional statesman” and emphasized his influential impact on the Canadian economy.

“He unleashed free enterprise, crushed inflation, restored fiscal sanity and concluded one of the greatest free trade agreements the world has ever seen, which remains largely in place today,” said Poilievre.

Mulroney was the child of a working-class family from the Quebec town of Baie-Comeau, where a pulp mill was the main economic driver. After stints as a corporate lawyer and businessman, Mulroney led the centre-right Progressive Conservatives to a historic win in 1984 over the Liberals of John Turner.

Mulroney, a talented orator and politician, aimed to incorporate into Canada’s policies the conservative values of the time, inspired by leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. This involved overhauling the tax structure and privatizing government-owned resources.

During his nine-year tenure, he engaged in talks for the 1988 Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, which aided in increasing Canada’s exports, and implemented a goods and services tax in 1991. Although the tax was met with great public disapproval, it effectively improved the government’s finances.

Brian Mulroney (far right) in 1985 with, from left, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Ronald Reagan and Yauhiro Nakasone, then prime minister of Japan.View image in fullscreen

The premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, praised Mulroney as a “tremendous” and “exemplary” figure for his handling of both local and global issues.

Canadian politician Ford expressed his regret over the passing of the country’s esteemed statesman, Brian. Ford commended Brian for his generosity and the valuable time he dedicated. In challenging situations, Ford sought Brian’s counsel and learned from his extensive experience and political intuition. Brian served as a mentor and imparted numerous lessons on effective leadership.

The New Democratic party leader, Jagmeet Singh, commended Mulroney for prioritizing environmental protection and upholding human rights.

Mulroney was successful in his efforts to stop acid rain and prohibit the use of chlorofluorocarbons, which were causing harm to the ozone layer.

According to Singh, Mulroney actively opposed apartheid and spearheaded the movement to impose sanctions on South Africa by Commonwealth countries. Additionally, he worked to address the tragic 1984 famine in Ethiopia.

According to author Peter Newman, during an interview, he stated that there is no Canadian prime minister who has accomplished as many noteworthy achievements as I have.

During his time as Prime Minister, Mulroney oversaw two unsuccessful attempts to modify Canada’s constitution in order to recognize Quebec, a province with a majority French-speaking population, as a distinct society. These efforts were meant to prevent the Quebec independence movement, but instead intensified the divide between French and English Canada, which had significant political effects for many years.

In 1993, he stepped down from his position due to extremely low approval ratings. The Progressive Conservative party suffered a crushing defeat in that year’s election, winning only two out of 295 seats in the House of Commons. This defeat marked the largest in Canadian history and the party never regained its political standing.

Following his political career, Mulroney went back to practicing law and became a partner at the firm Norton Rose Fulbright in Montréal.

In 1995, a confidential correspondence exposed the accusation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Mulroney had received kickbacks from German-Canadian arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber for the sale of Airbus planes to Air Canada in 1988. Mulroney took legal action against the Liberal government, ultimately receiving an apology and monetary compensation in 1997.

Mulroney eventually acknowledged that he had received C$225,000 in cash from Schreiber, but justified the large amount as payment for his consulting services. A later investigation revealed that Mulroney had engaged in improper business transactions with Schreiber. Mulroney asserted that the payments were not against the law, but publicly apologized for accepting the money.

In 2007, the individual admitted to making a significant error by accepting cash payments from Karlheinz Schreiber. They acknowledge themselves as solely responsible for their actions. The greatest mistake they regret in their life was agreeing to meet Karlheinz Schreiber in the first place. Schreiber was later sent back to Germany in 2009 and ultimately received a 6.5-year prison sentence in 2013.

In his resignation speech from 1993, Mulroney recognized the turbulent nature of his time as prime minister, both for Canada and his personal legacy.

“I have made a conscious effort to address the most contentious issues of our time, regardless of whether our solutions are agreed upon. This reflects our commitment to fulfilling our responsibilities, rather than avoiding them,” he stated. “My actions demonstrate my dedication to serving my country and my political party.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed reporting

Source: theguardian.com

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