09.04.2014 07:24 AM

In Friday’s Sun: September 4, 1984 and the people

[I’m putting this up today, early, because I have been actually shocked by how little coverage there has been of the significance of this day. W]

September 4, 1984: thirty years ago today, I was on an Air Canada flight from Ottawa, heading home to Calgary to start law school. The pilot came on the blower.

“For those of you who are wondering, we are hearing that the Liberal Party has lost every one of its seats,” he said. “And we have a new Conservative majority government.”

The plane erupted in cheers and applause – lots of it. Having just said goodbye to many of my Liberal friends at Ottawa polling stations, and having just finished working for a Liberal cabinet minister on the Hill, I slid further into my seat. A woman beside me noticed I wasn’t as deliriously happy as everyone else.

“I take it your friends have lost?” she asked.

“You could say that,” I said.

On the ground in Calgary, my Dad was there to collect me. We silently listened to John Turner’s concession speech on the way back to my folks’ home on the Bow River. Near the end, Turner said: “The people are always right.’

“I’m not so sure about that,” I responded, but – on reflection – I reckoned that Turner was indeed correct: the people are always right.

And the people had chosen Brian Mulroney, in record numbers. More than seventy-five per cent of eligible voters turned out to give Mulroney an astonishing 211 seats. The Liberals were reduced to a paltry 40 – only ten ahead of the New Democrats.

So began the Mulroney era, and a decade in the wilderness for the Liberal Party of Canada. It was an extraordinary decade, a time of great change, and it is hard to believe it all started thirty years ago today.

Not many in the media marked Mulroney’s September 4, 1984 triumph, and that is a shame. He changed Canada – not always for the good, but not entirely for the bad, either.

Meech Lake, Charlottetown, and assorted ministerial resignations, are always cited as the principal failures of the Mulroney era. But the former Conservative leader had successes, too: free trade, which his Liberal successor – my future boss, Jean Chretien – refused to undo. So, too, some of his major economic reforms, which arguably helped return the federation to balanced budgets and surpluses.

To not a few of us, his most singular achievement was his unflagging opposition to South Africa’s evil apartheid system. This placed him squarely against his closest conservative allies, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and America’s Ronald Reagan. But Mulroney’s determination to end apartheid put him on the right side of history – and earned him the enduring friendship of Nelson Mandela.

Why does all this matter now, thirty long years later? Two reasons.

First, Mulroney extraordinary victory on September 4, 1984 – and the historic events that followed that day – should not be forgotten. Whether you approve of his tenure or not, Mulroney truly changed Canada.

The second reason really has nothing to do with Brian Mulroney at all. The second reason we should recall September 4 is this: when democratic political change comes, it sometimes comes in a way that is dramatic, decisive, and defining. It can be shocking.

As in the Fall of 1984 – and as in the Spring of 2011 – you can sense another earthquake of political change is imminent. You can feel the tremors of it under your feet. And it is unlikely to end well for the Conservative Party or the New Democratic Party. Quietly, therefore, smart Tories and New Democrats are preparing for a rout.

That may be good, that may be bad. Depends on the team you belong to, I suppose.
One thing cannot be disputed, however:

As on September 4, 1984, as today, the people are always right.


  1. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Watching Harper at the current NATO meetings, I’m trying to imagine PM Justin Trudeau representing Canada instead.

    Frankly, pretty much like imagining a kindergartner sitting in a room full of PHDs.

    Can’t begin to explain how much this prospect scares the everlovin’ hell outta me for my country. It’s just bloody well unfathomable anyone this obviously and patently inept could end up leader of a nation.

    • david ray says:

      you must have loved Sarah Palin.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        That’s the best defense of your leader you could come up with?

        Then again, what could you possibly say, eh?

        • Mark says:

          Yeah, I’m so sure that our NATO allies are so impressed with Commander Photo-Op. The man who loves to take pictures with the military, but who also reduced military spending to it’s lowest point since WWII. The man who is shouting threats at Vlad The Bare-Chested, while at the same time doing he best to make sure that we do not have the means to follow through on those threats.

          I’m not overly fond of Trudeau, but there is no way he could possibly be as bad as Harper.

          • pc says:

            Our gracious host will probably dislike what I’m about to say, but here I go. I was in the Canadian Forces during the Chretien years. We had a saying at the time: “I’d rather eat shit with the Airborne, than steak with Collenette.” I couldn’t conceive of a PM treating the CF any worse than Chretien did. And then along came Harper.

        • que sera sera says:

          Harper couldn’t even find his way out of foreign toilets without assistance and without creating an international incident.

          Harper’s entire foreign policy can be summed up in one phrase: Speak awfully and act like a dick.

          Canada has been embarrassed internationally for too long by PM Harper: our very own gauche, parochial, dyspeptic, middle-aged schoolboy.

          Trudeau’s stature, without question, elevates Canada well above the gutter Harper claims as his own.

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          “Then again, what could you possibly say, eh?”

          You’re a moron seems like a good place to start.

        • david ray says:

          What does Sarah Palin have to do with leadership? Oh Al it’s one of your oxymorons. Got it.

      • Matt says:

        Say what you will about Palin, she did correctly predict three years ago Putin would do what he is currently doing.

    • Matt says:

      But, but, but……..

      The Globe and Mail restaurant critic Joanne Kates wrote a glowing piece about how Trudeau’s time as a camp counsellor dealing with children has prepared him for the world stage to negotiate conflicts like THE MIDDLE EAST.


      • que sera sera says:

        I suspect Harper’s private sector employment as mailroom clerk for Imperial Oil developed his extraordinary skill at kissing ass of big oil elites.

        Apparently that is the only private sector employment experience Harper required to establish his political bona fides & become PM of Canada.

        Another example of Conservative reformed cream rising to the bottom.

      • MedEditor says:

        Actually, _I_ can see how that experience might be relevant. My eyes on such matters were opened quite early, when I served two terms on my university’s senate as a student rep. Learned then and there that adult conflict was not all that much above kindergarten brawls. Could not believe my ears some days.

    • DJ says:

      So what great experiences did Harper have before becoming PM? He has been in politics or lobbying pretty much his whole adult life.

    • Jason says:

      Obviously and patently inept? I still don’t get where this “Justin is dumb” stuff comes from, other than assumptions and stereotypes that a good looking celebrity couldn’t possibly also be intelligent.
      In terms of life experience, I think it’s pretty fair to say he had no less (and possibly more) than the PM.
      He has a bit of an airy way of speaking I guess? He seems to positive and happy to be intelligent?

    • Ron says:

      I don’t think it’s much fun watching Harper rattle a sabre that we don’t have. And this after a $2.7billion cut to the defence budget.

      Is Putin a rat ? You betcha. But the idea that Canada can do anything about it is a joke.

    • Reality.Bites says:

      Reading Al in Cranbrook I realize we could do far worse than Stephen Harper. We could have his supporters instead..

      The best thing Al could do for Harper is throw out his computer and never write another word.

    • Tired of it All says:

      Give me a break. Harper got his MA from the worst economics department in Canada and never left the country prior to becoming PM. Have you forgotten the whole “Paging the PM of Canada, can you please come out of the Loo for the group picture of credible world leaders?”

      I don’t know if Trudeau will be a good PM or not. I do know, Al, that your non-sequitor is neither proof of Trudeau’s ineligibility nor is it proof that the current ideo-bot belongs there at all.

    • davie says:

      I will work for, and vote for neither of these fellows.
      But one difference between the two, to me, is in courage.

    • Mary says:

      Al, I’m not sure “how he looks in NATO photo ops” is in the top five, or even ten, of voters priorities in criteria for selecting a PM. So try again? Oh and Al: NATO ARE OUR FRIENDS. You or I could go represent Canada at NATO meetings…nothing to fear.

  2. Ken from the Annex says:

    I seem to recall some people saying similar things about Jean Chretien around about 1993. He turned out OK. Steve, on the other hand, was gung-ho for marching into Iraq with W.

  3. MgS says:

    The difference between Mulroney and Harper is that Mulroney wasn’t hell-bent on tearing down Canada’s democracy and traditions.

    The damage that Harper has done to this country and its reputation both here and abroad is unprecedented. Never before has a government done so much to dismantle the apparatus of informed decision making, tried to play Canada as a bully power on the world stage (a 98lb bully … oh the irony).

    When Mulroney’s grip on power crumbled, Canadians joked about it; Harper will go down as a trauma on the Canadian psyche – he and his cronies will be despised not joked about.

    • Jason Hickman says:

      The difference between Mulroney and Harper is that Mulroney wasn’t hell-bent on tearing down Canada’s democracy and traditions.

      Now, this is too amusing to ignore.

      Anyone who was alive & old enough to remember the 1988 election in particular, and for that matter, most of the political discourse from 1988 to 1993, will remember that Mulroney was accused of exactly that and more. Check out, if you can find it, some of the attacks against the Mulroney PCs during the ’88 “Free Trade Election”, and you’ll see that Mulroney was accused of all sorts of horrible things. And it was one hell of an intense campaign, just as much so as anything we’ve seen in recent years. If anything, the vitriol (deserved or otherwise) only grew after ’88, which is part of the reason why we ended up with a Reform Party, a BQ, a Liberal near-sweep of Ontario, and a federal PC Party with 2 seats after the ’93 election.

      With time comes perspective, I guess.

      • Bobby says:

        You’re right Jason. Never too late to re-write history I guess. It’s what some do very well here.
        Not to mention miss the entire point of WK’s column.
        The “people” do get it Warren..they truly do.

      • Scotian says:

        Jason Hickman:

        I am old enough to remember that period in politics, and to an extent you have a point, but only to an extent. However, I do think there is a difference of of both degree and kind involved here as well. With Mulroney people saw someone making fundamental changes to the Canadian way of life, but it was to a vision he actually was laying out there for people to see, whether they agreed with it or not. Harper on the other hand, has never provided as PM a vision of where he wants to take Canada, what he wants to leave it looking like, and has done massive fundamental institutional destruction on a wholesale level approach using scorched earth tactics wherever possible and then salting the ground afterwards, something Mulroney was not so much into as I recall.

        Mulroney while PM had major policies that even his usual political foes found admirable, dealing with Acid Rain, anti-Apartheid, just to name two that come to mind, where are the Harper equivalents? I don’t see anything close to comparable from Harper in that regard. So while yes in terms of some of the rhetoric being similar from the opponents of the two men while in office has some similarity, the actual realities of the actions prompting such from each man while PM are clearly different in both degree and kind I would argue.

        Take corruption for example, the worst with Mulroney on this point, it was the old pay to play access style to the PMO, with the Harper Government ™ it is all about abuse of power and position on a wholesale basis. Mulroney had his detractors (I was one in 1988, I was offended by the second phase tax reform he was sneaking in under the Free Trade debate, that tax was eventually to be known as the GST, my problem with it being the way the process was being handled more than the concept itself I would add), but to compare the governing styles and substances of Mulroney and Harper does a massive insult and disservice to Mulroney. Harper is something unique in our federal political history, and the damage he is doing to our core institutions (remember, this is a PM who asserted in a minority position that his government was above the authority of Parliament, this despite the civics 101 reality that all government power federally comes FROM Parliament, as in who can command a majority of the votes within it) as well as our more recent (last few decades) creations is indeed profound and long lasting.

        That is why I say you have a point to and extent but only to an extent. It is also why I have to disagree with your equating the two PMs and the reactions contemporaneous to each, because there are clear differences in both degree and kind as I’ve noted here.

        • davidray says:

          to add to your point Scotian Harper is the only PM to directly attack Canadians for their beliefs; from Franke James http://www.frankejames.com/4-warning-signs-that-free-expression-is-at-risk-in-canada/ to Neil Young to those working for charities who don’t believe as he does. It’s do as I say not as I do or else I’ll use the power of the purse to punish you. This is what makes Harper evil as far as I’m concerned.

        • Jason Hickman says:

          Fair enough, Scotian. Whether one accepts your theory depends on how one views the policies you mentioned of the Mulroney government, and those of the Harper government. It also depends on whether one agrees that Harper has not laid out a vision of the country through his policies, whether you like that vision (and/or those policies), or not. That depends on whether there are those degrees of difference you mentioned, and there really isn’t really an objective test to determine that – it depends on one’s point of view.

          My point, which I think still stands, is that during the Mulroney government, there were a lot of people who believed (or at least, acted like they believed) that he was “tearing down Canada’s democracy and traditions”, to quote MgS. We don’t hear so much of that, now. And we’ll have to wait and see, once passions have cooled, whether people will say that about Harper 10 or 20 years down the road.

          • smelter rat says:

            Well, to the extent that NAFTA laid the groundwork for other deals which has lead to the TFW debacle, it’s pretty clear to me that he started the tearing down that we see today.

          • Scotian says:

            Jason Hickman:

            With respect, assuming we still exist as a nation at that point thanks to the damage Harper has already done. Please understand something, I am before a partisan of any party/leader first a process geek, so I pay a lot more attention to and care more about process side issues than the average voter/citizen, and I tell you honestly and truly that Harper is unique in our history for what he has done in this respect. He has been by far the most destructive minded PM we have ever seen, and he doesn’t appear to have any plans for replacing these destroyed institutions and the works they provided that made up the government most Canadians actually liked whatever their political flavour. So I cannot accept your equivalence of either the reality or even the rhetoric that was contemporaneous.

            Mulroney was seen more as a sell-out to the Americans, and to his separatist friends (both for his MP recruitment that built his majorities with and his later Constitutional actions) early on when he decided to make his mark in the Constitutional arena, what he was not seen as was someone who wholesale muzzled and gagged all government scientists under a political filter a la USSR style, he did not turn Revenue Canada into a partisan operation out to silence his political critics, he did not essentially abandon First Ministers Conferences (Harper has had 2, and they were within a few months of each other when he finally realized that the world was heading into the worst global fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, and that is it).

            Mulroney didn’t destroy the principle of arms length watchdogs (remember Linda Keene as the nuclear regulator as just one of a multitude of examples from those charged with the public trust who prior to Harper had never been seen as a partisan of any party/government while doing their jobs who when they did not toe the Harper decrees suddenly were discovered to be partisans out to undermine him and his government, including more than a few he originally put in place himself). Mulroney also had positives to sell to the Canadian public beyond his own base, Harper has shown nothing but contempt unless you are solidly in his camp.

            I also note that while you decided to muse again on how it is all a matter of perspective whether Harper and Mulroney had plans, told people, or whether one likes them or not, you failed to actually provide anything substantive in the way of examples. Can you for example cite what the Harper vision of Canada is in constructive descriptors, not destructive descriptors? Can you point out, as I did, to policies of substance from Harper that have support beyond his base from those who are otherwise his opponents like Mulroney had with the two examples I listed? You clearly chose not to last time if you do have some examples, and I would love to know what they are because I’ve yet to see them, and they must be as those two examples were, that is more than photo-op/window dressing/rhetoric, both those examples were policies with real actions taken with hard results obtained in each, and were seen so AT THE TIME.

            This was why I said your point was limited and that there was a lot of difference in both degree and kind still to go from beyond the point where your observation fell short. Sure you can find a few from the fringes who would sound the same between the two, but there is a fundamental difference this time with those that see Harper as the most horrific PM in Canadian history as versus Mulroney. That difference is that more and more we are seeing this come from not just the fringes but the center and even former supporters of his and his CPC in its early days, who have come to realize that they did not sign on for this kind of scorched earth politics and turning the tools of government into partisan levers for holding onto power at all costs, something NO prior government has ever done in the manner and degree that Harper has. And it is Harper, this is his government, he has gone out of his way to make that clear, with Mulroney he headed a team, with Harper it is the Harper show, indeed, who else branded their government officially and required this change on all government documents instead of the Government of Canada to the name of the PM prior to Harper? Last time I looked no-one.

            So your point in the end is more of obfuscation of the reality than it is a window into it I would suggest. There can be no comparison between Harper and any prior PM, and there also is a fundamental difference between the nature of the criticisms being aimed at them too. Just a last comparison point, Mulroney was never seriously suspected of election fraud by even his opponents, Harper clearly is, and his party (which Harper has dominated since he built it) has been proven guilty of such literally from its first election campaign. Even in the cases where the party itself managed to avoid being charged and let a fall person take the hit it has shown itself to act in a manner aimed to prevent any honest examination of their records, actions, and intentions, as one judge put it “trench warfare” is the norm whenever the CPC is in court regarding electoral fraud issues from robocalls to overspending.

            Sorry Jason, in the end your point/claim/argument comes off when examined by someone who also lived through those times as a politically aware and active person (your criteria after all) more as either wishful thinking/memories coloured by time, or worse, with a partisan aim of making Harper and those against him seem like just the same old thing, when it is clear that neither Harper nor the rising disgust/contempt/horror/fury coming from not just political partisans but average citizens is anything such. Worse still, with Mulroney it took the Free Trade Act, the GST, Meech Lake, his best friend creating the BQ with Quebec PC MPS as the core of it, plus the questionable corruption in his PM in terms of access to get to this point, Harper has managed it only on his corruption and his destructive, contemptuous imperial scorched earth approach to politics (I can’t say governing because he does not govern, he dictates/rules, that is the only way to describe his approach even while he still had a minority, let alone since he gained majority).

            As I said before, to compare the two, even their critics, is to do Mulroney a serious disservice, and to minimize the reality of just how far outside the Canadian mainstream Harper truly is and always has been.

          • MgS says:

            There’s one key difference between Harper and Mulroney that you appear to consistently be overlooking.

            I disagreed with many of Mulroney’s policies for a variety of reasons (and I still do). However, the distinction I am drawing is far more concrete than you might imagine.

            Mulroney worked within the structures of our parliamentary system to get things done. While I might not have agreed with him on a lot of topics, he worked with the system as a whole. Harper has attempted to undermine and disrupt the functioning of parliament to such an extent that he has in fact seriously damaged it. Whether one looks at his weaponizing of the power to prorogue parliament, or his obvious attempt to undermine the judicial arm of government through his recent pissing match with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to the somewhat more subtle politicization of the RCMP and the Military, Harper has done a huge amount to undermine the legitimacy of our government (and don’t get me started on the so-called “Fair Elections Act”).

            Mulroney did a lot of things I consider reprehensible, but he did not undermine parliament or the mechanisms for parliament to reflect the will of the people. Harper has done that and much more.

            Make no mistake about it, Mulroney was the most despised PM in history when he stepped down. Harper’s actions are so destructive, so contrary to the majority of Canadians’ sensibilities that he will be seen as a trauma … we won’t joke about him when he’s gone.

          • doconnor says:

            “Mulroney worked within the structures of our parliamentary system to get things done.”

            He invoked the constitutional mechanism to add 8 more senators to get the GST passed. Perhaps not quite as bad as the prorogation, but still a major abuse of the constitution.

        • david ray says:

          what a terrific sentence you’ve written..

          scorched earth politics and turning the tools of government into partisan levers for holding onto power at all costs, something NO prior government has ever done in the manner and degree that Harper has.

          re the Mulroney years

          is it not passing strange that another man named Harper; the late Elijah Harper who in the act of raising a feather scuttled Meech Lake. Where is another of his ilk who will harpoon the whale known as Stephen Harper.

          re the boys in short pants

          how many are scrubbing their resumes and computers of any reference to their time and deeds in the control room of the good ship Harper Hmmmmmmm

  4. Alex says:

    Rule number one in former PC Premier Bill Davis’ Ontario was to not get on people’s nerves. Stephen Harper is going to lose the next election because he makes a point of getting on people’s nerves all the time.

    If the Tories were a normal political party they would be unbeatable. The economy is OK, we do not have constitutional turmoil and taxes are relatively low. So why are the Conservatives behind in the polls. Because they are, how can I put this delicately, jerks. By being so abrasive, arrogant, hyper partisan and obnoxious they have turned off the majority of the country to their policies.

    I am not impressed by Trudeau but come next election I will likely vote for him. Why? Two main reasons: First, contrary to what many say, the differences between the major parties are not that great. A Trudeau administration will be essentially fiscally conservative and socially liberal. In other words, in terms of “substance”, not overwhelmingly different from Harper.

    Second, the “tone” of Trudeau, on the other hand, will be completely different. I believe that the public has become sick and tired of Harper and just want him to go away. This opens up great possibilities for any candidate running as the anti-Harper.

  5. Mom says:

    I believe that Mr. Mulroney was also responsible for Canada helping to lead the way on protecting the Ozone layer. Protecting the environment doesn’t even seem to be on the radar of the current Conservatives.

    • SG says:

      “Protecting the environment doesn’t even seem to be on the radar of the current Conservatives.”

      The Chretien-Martin Liberals had a worse record on fossil fuel emissions than George W. Bush.

      I don’t think the Conservatives require lectures on environmental protection from Liberals.

      • Kaspar Juul says:

        “The Chretien-Martin Liberals had a worse record on fossil fuel emissions than George W. Bush.”

        Links to prove that statement SG or it’s just keyboard bluster. If your so confident about your atatement why don’t you put up the Harper era emission numbers for comparison. Or are you afraid that will collapse your flimsy point

        • doconnor says:

          I remember reading in several places that Canada greenhouse gas emission growth where worse then the US even when in Liberals where in power, largely because of the tar sands.

          Of course, his statement doesn’t address whether things have gotten even worse under the Conservative government.

  6. doconnor says:

    This event made the “On this day…” list on Wikipedia’s Main Page.

  7. socks clinton says:

    Mulroney’s regime began a hiring freeze that lasted a decade and it kept most of the Generation Xers locked out the Federal Civil Service while the Boomers already got their snouts firmly into the public trough. Fast forward 30 years later and Harper’s massive cutbacks is letting those Boomers retire with full benefits and with very generous exit packages.

  8. Ridiculosity says:

    The last time I was about to board a Porter flight at the island airport, I noticed Brian and Mila sitting in the lounge.

    Nobody went over to talk to them. I didn’t see a single person go up to him and shake his hand.

    It was sad, really. I was no fan of his politics or approach – but if it had been a former US President sitting in that lounge it would have been pandemonium.

    • Reality.Bites says:

      I’m not going to suggest Mulroney is the most popular former PM, but there’s also the “Canadian factor” of leaving people alone. One of my favourite stories:

      About 15 years ago I was in a butcher shop in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley village. Three customers, two clerks. One of those customers was Scott Thompson. The other customer, one of the clerks and I exchanged glances. At no point did any of use acknowledge to Mr. Thompson that we had the slightest idea who he is. When he left we immediately started talking about him. It turned out the other clerk hadn’t realized who he was and asked her co-worker, “Why didn’t you tell me it was him?”

      The answer is among the most quintessentially Canadian I’ve ever heard. “I was afraid you might try to talk to him.”

    • boopsie says:

      Ah, airport encounters..Morton Shulman, Harvey Kirck, Rick Mercer, Mansbridge…saw them all, and no one would ever think of interaction, unless THEY made the eye contact and spoke. Unwritten rule, praise be.

      • sezme says:

        Also, David Suzuki. Looked just as miserable as the rest of us picking his luggage of the conveyer belt in the bowels of Pearson. Canadians at least respect each others’ misery.

    • ottlib says:

      I once almost killed Joe Clark, or maybe I would have only caused him an injury. I was walking in a rush to get somewhere in downtown Ottawa and I rounded a corner of a building just as he was coming the other way. We did not see each other until the last second. We did manage to avoid a collision but it was close. His reaction was “Pardon me” in that very distinctive voice of his. Mine was to be dumbfounded as I realized I almost bowled over a former PM.

      When Larry Robinson was a hockey coach in the NHL I ran into him at the Rideau Centre one Saturday afternoon. His team was in town to play the Senators. Being a Canadiens fan I could not resist approaching him and asking to shake his hand. He was wary at first but once I told him that I just wanted to shake his hand and the reason why he loosened up considerably. We shook hands and I wished him luck in the game that night before moving on.

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Got to disagree. Only the people who vote are always right. Call it semantics, if you will. I voted PCP in 1984 but turned Liberal in ’88 thanks to the Quebec serial cabinet resignations…as John said I [really] had no option. However, it was nice of Brian to give us those store postal outlets!

  10. davie says:

    ‘…the people are always right.’

    So if a party gets a plurality with 38% of the vote, and only 60% of voters vote, that means that 40% did not vote. The number that did not vote amounts to a number that could elect a majority. Are those people right?

    • sezme says:

      Nah, getting your way isn’t the same as being right. Sometimes The People make a mistake. Democracy doesn’t prevent mistakes from happening, but it does (in theory) allow The People to correct mistakes before they become entrenched.

      Too often the choices on offer at the ballot box don’t allow for some form of mistake not to be made. This has to be one big reason why so many people abstain from voting.

      • debs says:

        exactly, lucking out due to those that cant be bothered to vote, means exactly that, the fates were with you. Now if we actually followed this prinicipal, that the people are always right thru their voting methods, well then the 45% who dont bother would get the anarchy they deserve:) And honestly after Harpers policies, perhaps anarchy is better:p

  11. SG says:

    I think most unbiased observers acknowledge – as future historians undoubtedly will – that Mr. Mulroney was the best PM of the 20th century, bar none. It was his policies that allowed Martin-Chretien to balance the budget; Mulroney planted the seeds, and Martin picked the flowers.

    His one big error: instituting racial/gender job quotas for federally regulated industries and firms. Bob Rae tried to implement the same discriminatory policy in Ontario but Mike Harris made quick work abolishing it.

    • Scotian says:

      Perhaps you might by so good as to cite these “most unbiased observers” making this argument that you put forward, or is this just the unbiased observers in your head you are describing? And yes, this is not simply snark, I want to know what you are basing this one, because that is not the read I’ve had where those without partisan axes to grind come out on the matter. Mulroney did do a lot of good things in office, but to claim he is the best PM of the 20th century that is so obvious already and that it is a given, well that is a bit of a high bar you have set there, and I think we are all entitled to know whether it is based on more than just your words alone. Just to make one point to a serious negative on him, Mulroney was directly responsible for the creation of the Bloc Quebecois by recruiting the nationalists to run for his PCPC, including his best friend Lucien Bouchard, the negative repercussions of that alone offsets a great deal of the good he did, and seriously damaged federal politics for a generation. So clearly more than one big error there and this one I would suggest was far more profound and damaging than yours for this nation and the political environment at the federal level.

      IOW prove your case or be seen as talking through your hat (to use the polite way of putting it).

      If you were being sarcastic, well you managed to sound sincere, so if that is the case, count this as your acknowledgement.

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      “think most unbiased observers acknowledge – as future historians undoubtedly will – that Mr. Mulroney was the best PM of the 20th century, bar none.”

      Friday comedy. Did you miss out on the 20th century? Mulroney superior to Pearson, St Laurent, Mackenzie King, Borden or Laurier? You need to learn A LOT more about this country before you spout off such nonsense

    • smelter rat says:

      Except for that whole envelope full of cash thingie.

    • ottlib says:

      I think you may be overstating it a bit SG.

      Mr. Mulroney did one thing that most consider to be his greatest achievement, which was to lead the fight against Apartheid. That was Brian Mulroney at his best and no one can dispute that.

      His worst action was the handling of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. His heart was in the right place but he bungled both so badly that it lead directly to a referendum that nearly lost us the country just two years after the PC government was defeated.

      The rest is a wash. Free trade with the US has not been a disaster but it has never lived up to the promise its proponents asserted during that debate. Productivity has fallen since the deal was implemented, not risen. Real wages have shrunk, not grown and the softwood lumber fiasco clearly demonstrates that the Treaty is not worth the paper it is written on when strong domestic forces decide to pressure Washington on a given trade issue.

      The GST was sound economic principle but he brought it in during a recession, which reduced consumer spending even more, deepening and lengthening that recession. Again, the right idea but a total screw-up in implementing it.

      I have noticed that many commentators of a Conservative bent have tried to take credit for the benefits the Liberals reaped during their time in power. As you say the Conservatives planted the seeds and the Liberals picked the flowers.

      Unfortunately such an assertion is flat wrong. The Liberals were certainly the beneficiary of 15 years of continuous strong economic growth, but that growth began in Silicon Valley and it was sustained by the emergence of Brazil, China and India as economic powers in the world. No Western political leader can take credit for the last economic boom, whether their names are Mulroney, Reagan, Bush, Thatcher, Clinton, Blair or Chretien. Those who happened to be in power during that period just got lucky and that is it.

  12. Joe says:

    Mulroney wants us to go back to being lap dogs of the Americans. Sorry Brian ole boy but that ship has sailed and no one got on board. What I did find refreshing is the independent stance PM Harper took at the NATO summit. We as a country are not going to spend 2% of GDP on defense when we don’t have clear objectives in spending that amount of money.

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      Independent stance = all hat no cattle

      • Joe says:

        TweedleDUMB isdachew?

      • Joe says:

        BTW TweedleDUMB all hat no cattle is sending our DART team to far away places on rented Russian aircraft because we don’t have the airlift capacity of our own and having them arrive weeks too late. All hat no cattle is renting US aircraft to help move material to Manitoba because we don’t have air lift capacity of our own. All hat no cattle is sending our troops to Afghanistan in soft sided vehicles because we don’t have armoured vehicles of our own. All hat no cattle is sending our troops to fight in the desert wearing forest green camouflage. All hat no cattle is NOT determining our defense spending on some arbitrary number pulled out of some European’s butt. Responsible leadership is determining our risk and making our defense spending match it. Having served as an officer in the CAF I know the kind of empire building that takes place to the detriment of the front line troops. We had the nicest NDHQ you’ve ever seen while our airmen were flying antique aircraft that were held together with baler twine and TLC. Anyone with any management experience will tell you that block funding without set targets is a recipe for disaster. The money will be spent. Will it do any good? Who knows you never set a goal!

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          That is quite the his say fit. Citations please

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            Officer, systems designer, home researcher, all round expert, professor… I wonder if teller of tall tales is also on your resume.

            You should package that malarkey. I could use it in my garden next spring

        • doconnor says:

          The US and Russia are the only two countries with heavy lift aircraft. Lots of bigger countries don’t have that capability either.

          I didn’t mind the military cuts during the Liberals, but there probably could have been better planning in how they reduced it.

      • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        Ha ha ha…….speaking of “all hat and no cattle”. Poor Kaspar.

  13. David Paterson says:

    No discussion of the Mulroney era is complete without attention to the impact of Karlheinz Schreiber.

  14. Sage says:

    The political pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth. The only question is how long will Canadian women and some men stay in love with cher Justin? Unless he does something whacko, I figure he is good for another term from 2019 to 2023, which will exceed my life span expectancy! Then the next politician du jour will surprise us all.

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