Brian Mulroney: The life and times of Canada's 18th prime minister

Author: Editors Desk Source: CBC News:
March 1, 2024 at 06:51
Brian Mulroney served as Canada's 18th prime minister from 1984 to 1993. Here, Mulroney greets Canada Day crowds on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 1991. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
Brian Mulroney served as Canada's 18th prime minister from 1984 to 1993. Here, Mulroney greets Canada Day crowds on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 1991. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
A political life in pictures, from Meech Lake to NAFTA

Brian Mulroney served as Canadian prime minister, from 1984 to 1993, an eventful tenure that included a royal visit, the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the successful passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement — a deal that transformed the Canadian economy.

On Thursday, Mulroney's daughter Caroline said he had died at the age of 84.

Here's a look at some key moments in Mulroney's political life before, during and after his time as Canada's 18th prime minister.

1st try for PC leadership

Mulroney confers with then-Newfoundland premier Frank Moores at the 1976 Progressive Conservative leadership convention in Ottawa. Mulroney, known at the time for his law career in Montreal, ran to replace Robert Stanfield, a race that would be won by Joe Clark, who went on to become prime minister.

Two men in suits are seen chatting quietly at a political event.

(The Canadian Press)

2nd time's the charm

Mulroney took another run at the PC leadership in 1983. Here, he and his wife, Mila, walk through placard-waving supporters to the podium to address the leadership convention in Ottawa that June 10. He went on to win on the fourth ballot, defeating Clark.

A man campaigning for prime minister holds his wife's hand as they make their way through a crowd of cheering supporters.

(The Canadian Press)

Mulroney becomes PM

The Mulroneys wave from the stage on election night on Sept. 4, 1984, as the Progressive Conservatives won a landslide majority government and handed the Liberals the worst defeat for a governing party at the federal level up to that point.

A man and a woman wave as they stand at a podium that says PC.

(The Canadian Press)


Queen's visit

Mulroney smiles while his wife curtsies for Queen Elizabeth as she arrived for a state dinner in Winnipeg on Oct. 6, 1984. The Queen's planned summer visit had been postponed after the previous prime minister, John Turner, called a general election for September. 

Two women in formal ball gowns shake hands in front of a man in a tuxedo. The woman on the right is wearing a tiara.

(Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Shamrock Summit

Mulroney and then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan walk past a line of Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Quebec City airport on March 17, 1985. Their meeting was dubbed the Shamrock Summit because it coincided with St. Patrick's Day and because of both men's Irish background.

Two men walk down a red carpet past rows of RCMP officers in red serges.

(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Indigenous matters

Mulroney is presented with a feather by Indigenous elder Alex Skead before the start of the second day of the first ministers' conference on Indigenous constitutional matters, in Ottawa on March 27, 1987.

A man hands a feather to another man at a conference meting.

(Greg Teckles/The Canadian Press)

Meeting at Meech Lake

Mulroney reads a statement after he and provincial premiers reached an agreement in principle on constitutional grievances, following a meeting at Meech Lake in Quebec on April 30, 1987. The Meech Lake Accord would famously end in failure.

A man in a suit speaks into a microphone at a table with a row of men in suits standing behind him.

(Charles Mitchell/The Canadian Press)

Re-election in '88

Then-Liberal leader John Turner and Mulroney point fingers at each other during a debate in the 1988 federal election campaign, in which the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement was a central issue. Mulroney and the Tories were re-elected with a reduced majority.

Two men in suits point fingers at each other from behind their respective podiums.

(Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Making their pitch

Mulroney and then-U.S. president George Bush throw the opening pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays home opener on April 10, 1990.

A man in a baseball jacket winds up to throw the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game.

(Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Charlottetown Accord

Mulroney holds up a piece of paper he had torn during a speech in Sherbrooke, Que., on Sept. 28, 1992. He was demonstrating that a 'No' vote on the following month's referendum on the Charlottetown Accord would rip apart the 31 points Quebec got in the agreement.

A man in a suit holds up a piece of paper he had torn during a speech.

(Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

NAFTA passes

Then-U.S. trade representative Carla Hills, seated in the centre, is shown with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, as well as all three countries' leaders, as they sign the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992.

Politicians from various countries gather for a photo-op with flags in the background.

(Pat Sullivan/The Associated Press)

Mulroney steps down

By 1993, Mulroney's popularity had declined due in part to the introduction of the GST and the Charlottetown Accord's collapse. He resigned, and cabinet minister Kim Campbell won the subsequent leadership race to take his place. Here, the prime minister-designate is given a standing ovation in the House of Commons by Mulroney and others on June 16.

Politicians in suits are pictured giving a standing ovation.

(Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

Order of Canada

Roméo LeBlanc, who was governor general at the time, presents the medal for companion of the Order of Canada to Mulroney during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 1998.

A man with grey hair and glasses pins a medal with a red and white strap to the lapel of another man.

(Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Finding a future leader

Mulroney and fellow former prime ministers, Clark, left, Campbell, centre right, and Paul Martin pose for a photo in Toronto on Feb. 20, 2007. The four got together for a taping of Canada's Next Great Prime Minister, a TV competition airing on CBC Television aimed at finding a young person with serious leadership potential.

Three men in suits pose for a photo together in a hallway.

(Aaron Harris/The Canadian Press)

Oliphant Commission

Lead commission counsel Richard Wolson questions Mulroney at the Oliphant Commission in Ottawa on May 19, 2009. The commission was investigating the business dealings between German Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber and Mulroney. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant would eventually conclude in his report that the business dealings were "inappropriate."

One man points his finger at another man from behind a podium.

(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Business arena

Mulroney served on a number of boards of directors in Canada and abroad since leaving political office, including as chairman of the board at Quebecor Inc. Here, he and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stand next to the Stanley Cup at the launch of the NHL season on the Quebecor-owned TVA Sports network in Boucherville, Que., on Sept. 3, 2014.

Two men stand beside the shiny silver Stanley Cup trophy, which rests on a table.

(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Farewell to Crosbie

Mulroney delivers a eulogy for former Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governor and federal politician John Crosbie during his state funeral at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, in St. John's on Jan. 16, 2020.

A man in a suit standing.

(Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

Remembering Queen Elizabeth II

Mulroney speaks during commemorative ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth at Christ Church Cathedral, in Ottawa on Sept. 19, 2022 — 11 days after her death and nearly 40 years after he met her during her visit to Canada in 1984.

A man delivers a speech from a podium inside a church filled with flowers. A photo of Queen Elizabeth II and a royal cypher with her initials are standing on easels.

(Blair Gable/The Canadian Press via AP)

Touring Mulroney Hall

Ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's speech to delegates at the Atlantic Economic Forum on June 10, 2023, Mulroney gives him a tour of Mulroney Hall on the campus, showing him a replica of his centre-block desk.

An older man in a suit stands behind a younger man sitting at a wooden desk in a parliamentary office.

(Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second