Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney dies at 84, tributes continue to pour

Brian Mulroney. Image credit: X/@MulroneyInst

Toronto: Former Canadian prime minister and Conservative heroic Brian Mulroney has died at age 84.

The former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by family, his family Thursday, his family has announced.

.After learning of Mulroney’s passing away, Canada’s House of Commons adjourned its proceedings on Thursday.

 “He never stopped working for Canadians…I’ll never forget the insights he shared with me over the years …As we mourn his passing and keep his family and friends in our thoughts… acknowledge…celebrate… Mulroney’s role in building the modern, dynamic, and prosperous country we all know today.” Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau said in a statement Thursday evening.

“He had the courage to do big things. He shaped our past, but he shapes our present, and he will impact our future, as well…I’ll never forget the insights he shared with me over the years,”Trudeau was reported saying.

During his political career, Mulroney left an unmistakable mark on the country.  

Born to a working class family in Baie-Comeau, Que., Mulroney studied political science at university and became an adviser to Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker.

As Canada’s 18th prime minister, Mulroney, in nine years both strengthened and divided the country.

Giving Canada a new sense of respect and presence on the international stage, Mulroney rallied countries against apartheid, and imposed sanctions on South Africa.

A closeness with Former U.S. President George Bush Sr was also forged by Mulroney and his wife.

Besides these friendships Mulroney forged stateside, his legacy is his work to establish first a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States in 1988.

Following his second victory in Progressive Conservative majority, Mulroney was responsible for expanding trade deal that included Mexico: the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mulroney also secured the Acid Rain Accord introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which came into effect in 1991 and remains in place today, was deeply unpopular leading the country to arecession

Mulroney’s polling numbers declined to a historic low in 1992 and in 1993 he decided to step down.

After leaving office, Liberals led by Jean Chretien won a landslide majority government.

That same year, Mulroney was diagnosed with a rare blend of diabetes that he said turned his life upside down. 

In the more than a decade since, Mulroney became one of Canada’s top statesmen.

During renogotiation of When North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2020, Mulroney helped Trudeau during tense talks, by leveraging his relationship with then-U.S. president Donald Trump.

“He unleashed free enterprise, crushed inflation…concluded one of the greatest free trade agreements…remains largely in place today…gave thousands of working-class families the same opportunities the chance to work hard, buy a home and build their dreams.”Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre reported saying.

That same year, Mulroney returned to his Nova Scotia alma mater St. Francis Xavier University for the official ground-breaking of a $100-million Brian Mulroney Institute of Government project.

This project was dedicated to the study of government, Canada-U.S. relations, and global affairs for undergraduate students.

A Companion of the Order of Canada, Mulroney received numerous accolades and recognition for his leadership and contributions to Canada.

He was also a mentor to his four children, including Ben Mulroney who became a top entertainment host, and Caroline Mulroney becoming a cabinet minister in the Ontario government.

In 2023, Mulroney spoke publicly about his battle with prostate cancer.

A month later, when speaking at the Atlantic Economic Forum at St. Francis Xavier University, Mulroney offered a thoughtful perspective on the legacies of political leaders, in paying tribute to Trudeau.

“It takes years, and not a few months or a few years… before one can make a judgment as to how a prime minister, or premier, has handled his responsibilities,” he was reported saying.

“History is only concerned with the big ticket items that have shaped the future of Canada.”