Senator Dalphond pays tribute to the Late Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, P.C., C.C., G.O.Q.

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, in the minds of those who followed politics in the 1980s and the 1990s, the name Brian Mulroney is associated with the arrival of the GST, the first free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, the privatization of Petro-Canada, Air Canada and CN, and the list goes on.

On the constitutional issue, in the tradition of previous Progressive Conservative leaders such as Bob Stanfield and Joe Clark, he proposed a different idea that led to the Meech Lake Accord, after winning over a majority of Quebeckers; unfortunately, that accord never came to fruition.

Brian Mulroney was also very famous for coining the right question or saying the right sentence. In 1987, he said to the Americans:

. . . why do think it is that the United States can do a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with it’s worst enemy, the Soviet Union, but you can’t do a free trade deal with your best friends, the Canadians?

That was a good question. That would lead to the first North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

I also remember that, in 1990, he was Canada’s only prime minister to use a section of the Constitution to appoint 8 extra senators in addition to the usual 105. This was to overcome partisan obstruction to the GST. Major changes to the Senate Rules followed, including time allocations for government business, and still leave a legacy.

Prime Minister Mulroney was also ahead of his time on the environment, mindful of the damage caused by acid rain on Canadian lakes and rivers. In 1991, he led a successful treaty with our neighbours and friends, the United States. His skills and networking continued to benefit Canadians after he left the Prime Minister’s Office. The current Liberal government enrolled him to assist in negotiating the most recent free trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico.

In conclusion, from humble beginnings to global leadership, he remained dedicated to his country, to his province, his friends and his family.

On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Mila, their four children and sixteen grandchildren, and to all those who share their heartbreaking loss.

Thank you.

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