Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Do Not Know Brian Mulroney, But I Voted For Him

Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada from 1983 to 1993, was born in Baie Comeau, Quebec.  Coincidentally so was I, but I was never Prime Minister of Canada.

I have said in my blog that I voted Conservative twice, both of those were for Brian Mulroney. (not in the same election, of course)  I used to be a lot more conservative back then, than I appear to be today.  Partly because I have changed a little, but more because of the extremism on the right in the USA, which spills over into Canada.

Although Brian Mulroney was elected democratically twice, by the time his last term was finished, Canadians hated the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada so much that the party no longer exists today. When I took a vacation in Saint Lucia in 1992, Mulroney's reputation had sunk very low.  A local street vendor approached me to buy some coconuts, and somehow it slipped out that I was Canadian.  He offered me his condolences, because we had such a horrible Prime Minister.

St Lucia was not the first time I had problems with Brian Mulroney's reputation.  When I was teaching in Sept-Iles QC, in 1973-75, Brian Mulroney was the CEO of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, and Sept Iles was a one-company town built by IOC.  The teachers on staff knew that both of us were from Baie Comeau, which was located not very far away.  Brian was in the process of shutting down the IOC's biggest iron mine, which did not sit well with the townspeople.  So I got several comments associating me with Brian, which was not true, as I never knew him or even attended the same school with him.  And anyway, he was ten years older than me.

When Brian became Prime Minister, all of a sudden Baie Comeau went from being a quiet unknown backwater town to being a well known town nationally.  Before this, if someone asked where I was from, I could say Baie Comeau, and generally receive blank stares in response.  When  Brian campaigned for prime minister, he made a very big deal being a "boy from Baie Comeau".  So after that successful campaign, whenever it came out where I was from, I was always asked if I knew Brian Mulroney.  And as time went on, and Brian became more and more hated, I felt a greater need to distance myself from him, pointing out that I always lived on Laval St. while Brian lived on Champlain St. The notoriety has died down a lot, but today I occasionally have this same reaction from people who find out where I live.  Canadians apparently have long memories.

Compared to today's conservatives, I think he was a good prime minister.  But there was the GST tax, that I suppose most people still blame him for.  I don't feel the GST was a bad tax, as it replaced a hidden tax. But many Canadians think differently.  On the other hand, he initiated the Acid Rain pact with the USA, that effectively put a stop to the acid rain pollution in the eighties.  Brian also spoke out against South Africa in the international campaign to stop apartheid.  Brian also brought in the Free Trade pact between Canada and the USA, which has given us prosperity even up to today.  Yes, I know Canadians love to complain about how poor we are, but that's because Canadians don't get out much, and half our brains, and all our asses are frozen in winter.  That's the simple excuse for our stupidity.

Long after Brian Mulroney left office, we found out that he had accepted bribes from an aircraft manufacturer to buy their merchandise.

Back when Brian was debating Liberal John Turner in the first election, it was all about appointing political friends to the senate (as it is again today).  During the debate, Brian pointed out all the recent dubious Liberal appointees to the senate (made by the previous leader Trudeau) and asked why John Turner did not cancel them.  Turner Replied that he had no option.

Brian replied

"You had an option, sir. You could have said, 'I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada, and I am not going to ask Canadians to pay the price.' You had an option, sir--to say 'no' — and you chose to say 'yes' to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal Party."



  1. You're a brave man, admitting that you voted for Brian ;-)

    I could not possibly find the time to dispute all your comments, point by point. The one point I can agree with it is that, 'Compared to today's conservatives, ... he was a good prime minister.' But, then, that's damning with faint praise :-(

    In economics it impossible to conduct 'scientific' experiments ... an economic policy is set in place, and we see what happens. We simple do not what would have happened in the absence of the FTA - specific deals, such as the Auto Pact, seemed to be working pretty well.

    What happened with the FTA was most definitely not that it's 'given us prosperity even up to today'. Canadian corporations and natural resources have been sold off to the Americans (who, after all, as issuers of the world's reserve currency, have the unfair advantage of unlimited credit).

    If an American company decides that it wants to 'rationalize' operations, it's invariably the Canadian subsidiary which it shuts down. We have entered into a bargain with the devil in terms of energy ... we are now giving the stuff away to the Americans at bargain rates (well below world market prices).

    But we ain't seen nothing yet! Under the terms of the FTA, and subsequently NAFTA, the U.S. effectively has an unlimited claim on our water. If we object, we'll end up in court - and we all know how that works out when we go up against the Americans (softwood lumber, anyone?)

    And as far as that GST. Introduction of further sales taxes (while income taxes were being reduced) is typical regressive Tory policy. And has been a major contributor to the growing social inequities in our fair nation.

    However, when we revisit this in a decade, Brian's policies, and his sellouts to business and to the Americans, will no doubt pale in comparison to those being made, as we speak, by the pseudo-Conservatives.

    1. I was not alone voting for Mulroney, he picked up 50% of the vote in 1983 and 43% in 1988. Higher in Alberta and Quebec, a bit less than the national average in Ontario.

      As I recall, the 1988 election was basically fought over the issue of free trade. So there was some democratic input, compared to today's tactic of omnibus bills with no debate. The only problem (which is still with us) is that the NO votes were split between two parties. Even in hindsight. it's hard to know which was the best decision. I had understood that the existing Auto Pact was going to be terminated, but that might have been just propaganda for free trade. Canada is still a relatively prosperous nation by conventional economic measurements. You're right that it may have been accomplished by selling off our natural resources, which I am more concerned about today than I was back in the eighties.