Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993, has died

Former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney died Thursday, February 29 at the age of 84, his daughter announced on social media

Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993, has died

Former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney died Thursday, February 29 at the age of 84, his daughter announced on social media. He led the country from 1984 to 1993.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of my father, the Right Honorable Brian Mulroney, the 18th Prime Minister of Canada,” Caroline Mulroney wrote on X. “He died peacefully, surrounded by his family,” she added.

This Quebecer left his mark on Canadian political life in the 1980s, notably with the signing of a historic free trade treaty with the United States, later extended to Mexico.

“Brian Mulroney loved Canada. It is with great sadness that I learned of his passing,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on X. “He never stopped working for Canadians and always sought to make this country a great place best place to live. I will never forget the advice he gave me over the years. »

Connection with Ronald Reagan

Ambitious and charming, with blue eyes, a protruding chin and a baritone voice, this trained lawyer was as comfortable in French as in English. He was a business leader before entering politics, within the Progressive Conservative Party (center right), of which he will take the helm.

Becoming Prime Minister in 1984, Brian Mulroney notably led the charge against the apartheid regime in South Africa, irritating his British counterpart Margaret Thatcher in the process. He also undertook a spectacular rapprochement with the United States of Ronald Reagan, after frosty relations under the liberals of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the father of the current leader.

“I told him: Ronald, I want a global free trade treaty with you,” he said. Negotiations were launched during a summit in Quebec in March 1985, where the two men of Irish origin sang arm in arm the anthem When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

An agreement, which would later become Nafta, was concluded in early 1988, causing discontent and distrust in English Canada, but satisfaction in Quebec. The opposition in Ottawa fears that Mr. Mulroney has “sold Canada to the Americans.”

Pushed to resign

But this agreement earned him a wide re-election in 1988. However, his second term was marked by a recession, and the government's budget deficit exploded. Five years later, in 1993, he was forced to resign and retired with the worst popularity ratings ever recorded.

Two years after his departure, Mr. Mulroney was caught up in a bribery affair paid by German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber to promote the purchase of Airbus by Air Canada. The affair dragged on until 2010 when a commission of inquiry blamed him for having received $225,000 from Mr. Schreiber. Brian Mulroney acknowledges having made a mistake in accepting this money in cash, but maintains that it was for other services rendered to Mr. Schreiber.

In 2017, he came out of political retirement at the request of liberal Justin Trudeau to play intermediary, thanks to his friendship with Donald Trump, to renegotiate NAFTA. The former US president threatened to abrogate the agreement, and for months, Mr. Mulroney worked behind the scenes to overcome the Republican's reluctance. A new agreement finally came into effect in July 2020.

The Prime Minister of Quebec, François Legault, hailed “a visionary with his Canada-US free trade agreement” and “a true ambassador who made Quebec and Canada shine.”