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Brian Mulroney dead at 84: Trudeau, Harper, Zelenskyy pay tribute as state funeral plans underway for controversial prime minister

'He never stopped working for Canadians': We remember the nation's 18th prime minister, who left an indelible mark on politics, the country

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney leaves Parliament Hill Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
History will always remember Brian Mulroney, for both his impact on Canada and the world. (Credit: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

Brian Mulroney has died at the 84, his daughter Caroline announced on Thursday through social media. Known as Canada's 18th prime minister, he's being remembered as one of the country's most influential and controversial politicians, who helped reshape our politics and economy. Upon his passing, Canadians are taking the time to remember his impact. That includes political leaders, from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, to former prime minister Stephen Harper, to go along with international figures like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

According to The Canadian Press, a family spokesman said Mulroney died in a Palm Beach hospital, where he's been since a recent fall. He was surrounded by family upon his passing. In April, the former prime minister was also treated for prostate cancer. His daughter, Caroline, said in August that following cancer treatment, and also a heart procedure, his health was improving. An official cause of death has not yet been released, while the process of holding a state funeral is also underway.

History has him as a man who completed one of the largest political wins in Canadian history — after he and his Progressive Conservatives won a record 211 seats in the House of Commons in the 1984 federal election. During his time in office until 1993, his impact included brokering the free trade deal and acid rain treaty with the U.S., introducing the loonie, as well as his leading position in the fight against racial apartheid in South Africa. However, moves like the introduction of the GST and the Airbus scandal also led to unpopular opinions toward Mulroney. Amid all of it, his impact on Canada is clear, as Canadians take the time to remember the former prime minister.

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  • Featured

    Vote: What do you think of Brian Mulroney's leadership and legacy?

    Canada's former prime minister Brian Mulroney speaks with the media before receiving the Commander of the National Order of Legion of Honour at the French Embassy in Ottawa on December 6, 2016. - Mulroney will be the first head of Canadian government to receive the distinction. The Legion of Honour is the highest decoration that France can bestow. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo by LARS HAGBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

    "Canadians loved him: In 1984, they handed the youthful charmer a blank cheque and the largest majority mandate in history so he could change the country.

    Canadians hated him: When he announced his departure from politics in 1993, his charm was dismissed as blarney, his youth faded into a lugubrious middle-age."

    Read the full obituary on Brian Mulroney's life and legacy from The Canadian Press

  • Ukraine's Zelenskyy remembers Mulroney's impact

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is sending his condolences to Brian Mulroney's family. In a post to X, formerly known as Twitter, Zelenskyy pointed out how "Ukrainians will always remember that Brian Mulroney's government was the first in the Western Hemisphere to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991."

    It's what Zelenskyy credits for what "laid a solid foundation for Ukraine and Canada to continue their true friendship," as the two nations continue a strong partnership through their security agreement amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

  • Videos: Mulroney's personality was always on display

    Brian Mulroney will always be remembered as a charismatic speaker, as he looked to usher in change in all aspects of his political career. Upon his passing, here's Mulroney in his own words, presented by CBC.

    Mulroney’s former chief of staff David McLaughlin also took the time to speak to CBC following news of his passing, remembering him as someone who “loved to persuade.” McLaughin remembers how Mulroney called his mom twice as he tried to convince him to support his race for leader of the PC party in 1983.

    McLaughlin says Mulroney "made sure Canada punched above its international weight. To that extent, I think he was the most consequential foreign policy prime minister we may well have had.”

    Mulroney used his relationships in order to leverage policy outcomes, such as with U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, says McLaughin, as he watched the prime minister refer to everyone on a first-name basis.

  • Brian Mulroney's relationship with Quebec during time in office still in spotlight

    Brian Mulroney's historic win in 1984 to become prime minister came in large part to how he captured Quebecers. In the election, he produced 58 of Quebec's 75 seats. It makes him "the last, and so far only, conservative to taste victory in Quebec," according to The Canadian Press.

    With the news of his passing, Quebec Premier François Legault paid his tribute to Mulroney, who was born in the province.

    "A true ambassador who promoted Quebec and Canada throughout the world. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones," wrote Legault on X.

    However, Mulroney did also have some hiccups for Quebec. It's most notably highlighted through the Meech Lake Accord in 1987 and the Charlottetown Accord in 1992. The two accords in large part looked to recognize Quebec as a "distinct society." The Charlottetown Accord was approved by the federal and provincial governments, but was ultimately rejected by Canadian voters in a referendum. Mulroney, as he saw his popularity decline on both sides after the failed accords, resigned as prime minister shortly after.

    For more on Mulroney and Quebec separatism, as well as an obituary, see this post from The Telegraph.

    Controversy is also tied to Mulroney in regards to the Oka Crisis in 1990 in Quebec. It was a 78-day standoff, where the Mohawks of Kanesatake protested by trying to protect a disputed land, which featured a burial ground. A development for a golf course and townhouses was proposed, leading to actions by the Quebec police and RCMP to try to seize the land. The Oka Crisis involved the death of a Quebec police officer, but the standoff was ultimately cleared after the Canadian army was sent in by Mulroney.

  • Brian Mulroney to receive state funeral, says PM Trudeau

    A state funeral will take place later this month for former prime minister Brian Mulroney, said Justin Trudeau on Friday. There will also opportunities for Canadians to express condolences to the Mulroney family.

    "We're working with the family closely to ensure that all of their wishes are respected and that it be the right and fitting tribute to him," said Trudeau, according to the Toronto Star. "We will be sharing more details of course … But I can also let everyone know that there will be opportunities for Canadians to express their gratitude and share tributes to the former prime minister as the coming days and weeks unfold."

    Along with sharing a statement upon news of his passing, Trudeau took time to speak on Thursday about how Mulroney shaped Canada's past and present, and how his time as a politician will continue to have an impact on the country's future. He highlighted Mulroney's ability to bring people together, such as on the world stage, and also in maintaining their valuable relationship with the U.S. through some "very challenging years."

    "He was an extraordinary statesman and he will be deeply, deeply missed," said Trudeau.

     

  • Flag at half-mast at Parliament Hill in honour of Brian Mulroney

    The flag on Parliament Hill's Peace Tower flies at half mast after the death of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Ottawa, on Friday, March 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
    The flag on Parliament Hill's Peace Tower flies at half mast after the death of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, in Ottawa, on Friday, March 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

    In response to the death of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, the flag at the top of Peace Tower in Ottawa is at half-mast on Friday. The tribute is also joined by members of Parliament being absent today from the House of Commons, as politicians join Canadians in mourning his death.

    On Thursday, news spread in the House of Commons during a debate on legislation, as Conservative MP John Nater made an announcement, leading to the suspension of proceedings.

    "It is obviously with great regret that this House has learned of the passing of this country's 18th prime minister," said Nater.

  • Stephen Harper: 'History will record that Mr. Mulroney’s premiership was transformational'

    Former prime minster Stephen Harper is remembering Brian Mulroney for his impact on Canada, especially noting the economic change he made with the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.

    At one point, Mulroney served as a mentor to Harper. But their relationship soured when Harper in 2008 called for a commission of inquiry into Mulroney over cash payments he accepted as a form of kickback from a German businessman in the Airbus affair. The commission concluded that Mulroney acted inappropriately by accepting $225,000 after he had left office.

    There's no mention of the aircraft scandal in Harper's post on X. Instead, while mourning his passing, Harper also remembers Mulroney's international impact, such as his "principled opposition to apartheid in South Africa, his enduring support for Israel, and his advocacy of independence for Ukraine and the other European nations long under the yoke of Soviet communism."

    As a fellow Conservative, Harper also pointed out that "Mr. Mulroney will also be remembered as the first Canadian Conservative leader to win back-to-back majority mandates since Sir John A. Macdonald, including the largest electoral victory in Canadian history."

  • Doug Ford remembers Mulroney, calling him a 'mentor'

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford remembers former prime minister Brian Mulroney as both a "mentor" and also an "advisor."

    “You wanna talk about leadership? You wanna talk about trailblazers, visionaries? That was Brian Mulroney,” said Ford at a Toronto Region Board of Trade event.

    “He became a mentor to me. He became an advisor to me anytime I had a tough decision.”

    Ford later also released a statement on Mulroney. A part of Ford's cabinet is Mulroney's daughter Caroline, who holds the title of Minister of Francophone Affairs.

  • Brian Mulroney's life and legacy in photos

    Brian Mulroney and Mila wave from the stage on election night Sept. 4, 1984. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS
    Brian Mulroney and Mila wave from the stage on election night Sept. 4, 1984. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS
    Queen Elizabeth II toasts with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in Quebec City, Oct. 23, 1987. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Poling
    Queen Elizabeth II toasts with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in Quebec City, Oct. 23, 1987. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Poling
    Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan is applauded by his wife Nancy, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his wife Mila after addressing the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa during an official visit to Canada in this April 6, 1987.
    Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan is applauded by his wife Nancy, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his wife Mila after addressing the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa during an official visit to Canada in this April 6, 1987.
    Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President George Bush toss out the first pitches at the Toronto Blue Jays home opener against the Texas Rangers at the SkyDome in Toronto on April 10, 1990. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
    Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, supported by his wife Mila, jokes with the media trevelling on his campaign plane Nov. 22, 1988 during the flight home to Ottawa from  Baie Comeau.  Mulroney wore the sign that said he would not run in 1999, a response to questions earlier in the day regarding his intentions for a third term of office.
    Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, supported by his wife Mila, jokes with the media trevelling on his campaign plane Nov. 22, 1988 during the flight home to Ottawa from Baie Comeau. Mulroney wore the sign that said he would not run in 1999, a response to questions earlier in the day regarding his intentions for a third term of office.
    HiRes (SHER1) SHERBROOKE, Quebec, Sept 28--RIPS PAPER--Prime Minister Brian Mulroney holds up a piece of paper he had torn during a speech in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Monday.  Mulroney was demonstrating that a No vote on the referendum would rip apart the 31 points Quebec got in the Charlottetown agreement.  (CP PHOTO) 1992 (stf-Fred Chartrand)
    HiRes (SHER1) SHERBROOKE, Quebec, Sept 28--RIPS PAPER--Prime Minister Brian Mulroney holds up a piece of paper he had torn during a speech in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Monday. Mulroney was demonstrating that a No vote on the referendum would rip apart the 31 points Quebec got in the Charlottetown agreement. (CP PHOTO) 1992 (stf-Fred Chartrand)
    Nelson Mandela walks with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on his arrival in Ottawa, June 17, 1990. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell
    Nelson Mandela walks with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on his arrival in Ottawa, June 17, 1990. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is dead at 84. His family announced late Thursday that the former Tory leader died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell
    Kim Campbell, Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister designate is given a standing ovation in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and other members of the government on June 16, 1993. The Canadian Press/Tom Hanson
    Kim Campbell, Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister designate is given a standing ovation in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and other members of the government on June 16, 1993. The Canadian Press/Tom Hanson
    (OTTX 103) OTTAWA, Oct. 22--Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney laughs while Governor General Romeo LeBlanc puts the Order of Canada around his neck during an Investiture ceremony in Ottawa Thursday.(CP PHOTO) 1998 (stf-Tom Hanson)th
    (OTTX 103) OTTAWA, Oct. 22--Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney laughs while Governor General Romeo LeBlanc puts the Order of Canada around his neck during an Investiture ceremony in Ottawa Thursday.(CP PHOTO) 1998 (stf-Tom Hanson)th
    Former Canada's prime minister Brian Mulroney speaks from the pulpit during commemorative ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth at Christ Church Cathedral, in Ottawa, Canada Monday, September 19, 2022.
    Former Canada's prime minister Brian Mulroney speaks from the pulpit during commemorative ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth at Christ Church Cathedral, in Ottawa, Canada Monday, September 19, 2022.
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, sits behind the desk of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, left, while touring a replica of Mr. Mulroney's former parliamentary office in Mulroney Hall at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. on Monday, June 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, sits behind the desk of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, left, while touring a replica of Mr. Mulroney's former parliamentary office in Mulroney Hall at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. on Monday, June 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
  • Mulroney's moments: Environment-friendly, anti-apartheid and money controversy

    Canada's greenest prime minister?

    Mulroney was one of Canada’s most environmentally-friendly prime ministers, according to Canadian History Ehx Journalist Craig Baird.

    During his tenure as the Canadian prime minister, Mulroney secured a treaty with the United States of America on acid rain while making Canada the first industrialized nation to ratify a Convention on biological diversity.

    Mulroney was also behind passing the Environmental Assessment Act & Environmental Protection Act and making Canada the first G7 nation to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    In 2006, a 12-member panel named Mulroney Canada's greenest prime minister, according to Baird.

    Strong stance on apartheid

    While in office during the era of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, Mulroney broke ranks with his strongest allies on the issue of apartheid as he saw the state's system of racist repression as fundamentally unjust and supported sanctions against the South African white minority regime.

    'Brown envelope' controversy

    The 18th prime minister of Canada wasn’t without his share of controversy with one of them involving him allegedly attempting to cover up cash payments of up to $300,000 he accepted from a German businessman.

    In response to the allegations, Mulroney admitted accepting an envelope with money in it and told an inquiry that there was nothing untoward in him accepting a certain “business arrangement” in public as the payment was both “unsolicited and unexpected.

    Readers were quick to point out the record of his controversies wasn't forgotten:

  • ‘Immense sacrifice and a lasting legacy’: Pierre Poilievre leads political top brass in tributes following death of Brian Mulroney

    Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre holds a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Poilievre says he believes
    Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre holds a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Poilievre says he believes "biological males" have no place in sports or change rooms that are labelled female. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    Canadian politicians are remembering Brian Mulroney’s “immense sacrifice,” generosity and contribution to the country in their tributes to the former Prime Minister, who passed away at the age of 84.

    Caroline Mulroney, daughter of Canada’s 18th prime minister, announced the sad news of her father passing away “peacefully” through a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    Following Mulroney’s announcement, Canadian leaders from all sides of the aisle joined in singing praise of the late Progressive Conservative Party leader.

    Leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre peened a lengthy note in the memory of Mulroney, extensively detailing the veteran’s early years hailing from a working-class community, his business acumen and the stalwart figure he ended up becoming in Canadian politics.

    “He unleashed free enterprise, crushed inflation, restored fiscal sanity and concluded one of the greatest free trade agreements the world has ever seen, which remains largely in place today,” Poilievre wrote on X.

    “These changes gave thousands of working-class families the same opportunities he had, that is, the chance to work hard, buy a home, and build their dreams,” he added.

    I will always be thankful for his candid advice and generous mentorship to me personally. All Canadians are grateful for his immense sacrifice and the lasting legacy he leaves us all - the current leader of the Conservative Party concluded.

    NDP and the Liberals join Poilievre in remembering Mulroney's contributions

    Leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, also remembered Mulroney’s “contribution” to protecting the environment while seated in the top seat of the government.

    He made an important contribution to Canada, including protecting our environment - leading the world in tackling acid rain and banning chemicals that were destroying the ozone layer - Singh posted on X.

    Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, along with his deputy, Chrystia Freeland and Housing Minister Sean Fraser, led the Liberals in sharing their condolences following the “devastating” news.

    He never stopped working for Canadians, and he always sought to make this country an even better place to call home. I’ll never forget the insights he shared with me over the years – he was generous, tireless, and incredibly passionate - Trudeau shared in a note online.

    Brian Mulroney stood up for Canada and our national interest, including long after he left public office. I will miss his wise counsel, which he generously offered, particularly during the NAFTA negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted.

    I had the chance to get to know Mr. Mulroney. He became a friend and someone who I came to rely on for advice. He didn’t let political stripe get in the way and was focused on making Canada a better place, Housing and Infrastructure Minister Sean Fraser said on social media.

    Premiers of Canadian provinces recall their interactions with Mulroney

    Leaders of different provinces joined the tributes with Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith recalling the role Mulroney played in Canadian politics and anecdotes from their personal time with him.

    I’m saddened to hear about the passing of Brian Mulroney. My condolences to his wife and family. He believed in Canada and he dedicated his life to our country, Kinew shared.

    I first met Prime Minister Mulroney when I was the Progressive Conservative U of C campus club president in 1992. I was just joining politics and felt inspired by his dedication to public service. He will be remembered by all Canadians for his service, and his commitment to our country, Smith wrote.

  • 'Brian Mulroney loved Canada': PM Trudeau reacts to former prime minister's death

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to journalists during press conference after the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to journalists during press conference after the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media shortly after Mulroney's death was made public to offer his condolences.

    "Brian Mulroney loved Canada. I’m devastated to learn of his passing.

    "He never stopped working for Canadians, and he always sought to make this country an even better place to call home. I’ll never forget the insights he shared with me over the years – he was generous, tireless, and incredibly passionate.

    "As we mourn his passing and keep his family and friends in our thoughts, let us also acknowledge – and celebrate – Mr. Mulroney’s role in building the modern, dynamic, and prosperous country we all know today."