Paul Martin

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For other uses, see Paul Martin (disambiguation).
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin
Rank: 21st
Term of Office: December 12, 2003 - Present
Predecessor: Jean Chrétien
Date of Birth: August 28, 1938
Place of Birth: Windsor, Ontario
Spouse: Sheila Ann Cowan
Children three sons
Profession: businessman, politician
Political Party: Liberal

The Right Honourable Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, PC, MP, (born August 28, 1938 in Windsor, Ontario) is the Prime Minister of Canada. He is the twenty-first prime minister, having succeeded Jean Chrétien on December 12, 2003. Martin is leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and was re-elected with a minority government on June 28, 2004 - the first minority government in 24 years. The Liberals won 135 of 308 seats in the Canadian House of Commons.


Early life

A businessman and politician, Paul Martin is from a prominent Canadian political family. His father, Paul Joseph James Martin, served 33 years as a member of the Canadian House of Commons and was a cabinet minister in four Liberal governments. Martin Jr. had a bicultural upbringing. His father was a Franco-Ontarian, and his mother, Eleanor "Nell" Adams, was a Scottish Canadian. He was raised in an English-speaking environment in Windsor and Ottawa. To give him the opportunity to improve his French, his parents enrolled him in a private French-language middle school, Ecole Garneau in Ottawa. He then attended the French-Catholic University of Ottawa secondary school.

Martin graduated with a B.A. in history and philosophy from St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, in 1961. He followed his father's path to the University of Toronto Law School where he received his LL.B. in 1965. He was called to the Ontario bar in 1966.

In 1965, Martin married Sheila Ann Cowan. They have three sons, Paul, Jamie and David.

Before entering politics, Martin had a long career in the private sector. He served as:

By 1988, he was a successful businessman and a multi-millionaire. His declaration of assets upon entering Parliament included ownership of dozens of companies around the world, 33 ships, office buildings, apartment blocks and movie theatres. In 2004 estimated Martin's personal wealth at $225 Million USD.

Finance Minister

In 1988, Martin was elected as the Member of Parliament for the electoral district of LaSalle—Émard in Montreal. He was a candidate at the 1990 Liberal leadership convention, losing to Jean Chrétien in a bitter race that resulted in lasting animosity between the two men and their supporters. Nonetheless, the Liberal Party won the 1993 election and Martin was appointed minister of finance by the new prime minister, Jean Chrétien. At the time, Canada had one of the highest annual deficits of the G7 countries. As finance minister, Martin erased a $42 billion deficit, recorded five consecutive budget surpluses, paid down $36 billion in debt, and cut taxes cumulatively by $100 billion over 5 years, making it the largest tax cut in Canadian history.

During his tenure as finance minister, Martin was responsible for lowering Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio from a peak of 71 per cent to about 50 per cent in the mid-1990s. In December 2001, he was named as a member of the World Economic Forum's "dream cabinet". The global business and financial body listed Martin along with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as top world leaders.

While Martin's achievements as finance minister were lauded in business and financial circles, there were undeniable costs. Some of these costs took the form of reduced government services. This was most noticable in the Health Care sector, as major reductions in federal funding to the provinces meant significant cuts in service delivery. Moreover, there were cuts in government services across the board, affecting the operations and achievement of the mandate of most federal departments. Critics point out that Martin's actions as finance minister were consistent with a neoliberal agenda. Nevertheless, it must be born in mind that while Martin held an influencial position within the government and the Liberal Party of Canada, his actions as finance minister were very much part of his party's program.

Rise to Prime Minister

Prime Minister Chrétien and Martin frequently clashed while in office. It was often reported that Chrétien had never forgiven Martin for running against him in the Liberal leadership convention of 1990, and privately often condemned Martin in bitter terms to his aides. Some suggested that if Martin wasn't promised the Finance portfolio in the event of the Liberals 1993 election victory, Martin would have resigned, splitting the Liberal Party. In fact, Jean Lapierre who was a stauch supporter of Martin wore black armbands at the 1990 Liberal Party convention to protest Chretien's victory. Lapierre then crossed the floor to the newly formed Bloc Quebecois party in the House of Commons. After Chrétien's third electoral victory in the 2000 election, there was much speculation in the media and in Ottawa that Martin was after Chrétien's job and wanted to force the prime minister into early retirement.

The conflicts between the two men reached a peak in 2002; Martin was dismissed from Cabinet, and was replaced by John Manley as Finance Minister. Soon after, Martin formally declared his intention to run as leader of the Liberal Party at the next party convention. Over the summer of 2002, Martin toured the country campaigning to succeed Chrétien while his Liberal organizers prepared to challenge Chrétien's leadership during a review vote in January 2003. During the fall, Chrétien announced that he would resign in the spring of 2004 after less than half of caucus agreed to sign a commitment to support him. The Liberal party called a leadership convention for the fall of 2003.

After that, Martin's opponents for leadership quickly dropped out the race. On September 21, 2003, he easily defeated his sole remaining opponent, former Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps by securing 92% of the party delegates from across the country. On November 14 he was formally declared the winner at the Liberal leadership convention, capturing 3,242 of 3,455 votes. On December 12, he was appointed by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson as the 21st Prime Minister of Canada.

When taking office as Prime Minister, Martin provoked controversy as his new cabinet retained only half the ministers from Chretien's administration, and Martin would not even sign the nomination papers for former ministers who wanted to stay in Parliament. At the time, however, this had little impact on Martin's record popularity, since pundits noted that a new cabinet was a refreshing change from Chretien's ten-year tenure. However, once the sponsorship scandal broke out, this tactic backfired spectacularily, as a skeptical electorate saw Martin's cabinet shuffle as a cynical attempt to try to blame the scandal on the past government. Many long-time Liberals were also put off by Martin's control of the riding nomination process, and formerly Liberal strongholds were weakened due to disgruntled members leaving the party.

   met with Martin and his cabinet to discuss Haiti.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Martin and his cabinet to discuss Haiti.

On February 9, 2004, Martin and the Liberals were rocked by a report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser that sponsorship contracts designed to increase the federal government's status in Quebec resulted in little to no work done. Many of the agencies had Liberal ties, and roughly $100 million of the $250 million in program spending went missing. Martin has stated that there has to have been political direction but denies involvement in, or knowledge of, the sponsorship contracts, and has called a public inquiry into what has come to be known as the Sponsorship Scandal. Opponents, however, state that as finance minister he must have known about these activities. They also noted that the role of the Finance portfolio is uniquely powerful, since that minister budgets for all of the other departments. Some have even compared Paul Martin's time as Finance Minister to Andrew Fastow, former CFO of the Enron Corporation. Those charges were very effective in Quebec, where Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe even accused Martin of planning to widen the St. Lawrence seaway to benefit his own Canada Steamship Lines.

Immediately after becoming Prime Minister, Paul Martin enjoyed record approval ratings and it looked as if he might win a record number of seats in an election. Support slumped, however, as a result of the scandal and a desire for change. Nonetheless, Martin decided to call an election for June 28, such that the public inquiry would be unready to release a report in a short time, and in order to catch the newly formed Conservative Party off guard.

Polls placed the Liberals in a dead heat with the Conservatives. During the campaign, it was predicted the Liberals would lose by only a few seats, possibly producing a Conservative minority government. The Liberals ended up winning a minority of seats and another term in office, but, as the average length of a minority government in Canada is 18 months, Paul Martin's long term future will depend on his ability to push his agenda through a "wheeling and dealing" House of Commons.

The minority government

Martin's new government has faced combined challenges from Quebec separatism, Newfoundland provincialism and general hostility arising from allegations of scandal. Relations with the United States grew worse and Martin had trouble commanding the support of the Commons. The first real test of the Liberal minority came following the Speech from the throne in the fall of 2004. The Conservative Party announced plans to move an amendment to the speech. In this they were supported by the separatist Bloc Quebecois. The fall of the government was averted only when Martin agreed to accept a watered-down version of the amendment. This compromise, the first of several, prompted The Economist to report that Martin was being called "Mr. Dithers" in Ottawa. [1] ( [2] (

In the fall of 2004, Martin met with the provincial premiers and struck a deal with increased fundraising for healthcare. It was not a "deal for a generation" as promised in the election, but it was a decade-long funding commitment that was expected to lower the heat in federal-provincial relations, which had taken a turn for the worse during the government of Jean Chrétien.

Martin also introduced changes to the equalization program, under which the federal government transfers money to provinces that have less ability to raise revenues through taxation than wealthier provinces. This was hailed in the "have not" provinces as a great accomplishment, but it was not enough for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Danny Williams, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, in a dispute over revenues from offshore resources, ordered that all Canadian flags be removed from provincial government buildings in December 2004. Martin resolved the dispute by negotiating a deal to give 100% of all offshore resource revenues to the two provinces. Some said that Martin caved in, in return for Williams agreeing not to support attempt to topple the fragile federal Liberals.

Same-sex marriage has proven to be a defining issue of Martin's mandate. Martin, a Roman Catholic, opposed same-sex marriage in the past but changed his view over time. In the midst of various court rulings in 2003 and 2004 that allowed for the legalization of same-sex marriages in seven provinces and one territory, his government proposed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage across Canada. Many critics note that there were more serious problems with Canada's justice system to deal with, such as for dangerous offenders, and that Martin was only using the same-sex marraige to hide the sponsorship scandal and attack the Conservative Party.

The 2005 federal budget was presented in the House of Commons on February 23, 2005. It was criticized as an "election budget" for spending money in a wide variety of areas which was seen by some as an attempt to attract support to the Liberal Party. The budget included an array of new spending on the armed forces, the environment, and for a national child care program. It also included tax cuts, stretched out over the next five years. In fact, much of the budget, and particularly the tax cuts, was "back-loaded" -- many of the new spending and tax cuts proposals take effect several years down the road.

On February 24, 2005, Martin dispatched Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew to the House of Commons to announce that Canada would not participate in the American National Missile Defense Program (See: National Missile Defense in Canada). The decision proved to be controversial, in large part because Martin quickily followed up upon the announcement of Canada's refusal by announcing that he expected to be consulted in the case of a missile being launched over Canadian air space. Polls taken at the time suggested that Canadians did not wish to be involved with the US Missile Defense Program. Martin's decision came with much praise from the left, but on the right was seen as another way the government was distancing itself from the US.

Missing image
Paul Martin addressing Canadians on the sponsorship scandal

The Liberal party subsequently suffered a large decline in public support, according to public opinion polls, after more details of a sponsorship scandal emerged involving alleged kickbacks and "donations" from Quebec advertising agencies and corporations. The Gomery Commission inquiry into the sponsorship scandal is still in progress and likely will finish by Fall 2005.

Recently, the security of the minority government came under fire as the Opposition, the Conservative Party threatened to force an election by use of their "opposition day," when they get to set the Parliament's agenda. The Conservatives would use this time to hold a vote of non-confidence in order to topple Martin's minority government. To avoid this, Martin removed all opposition days from the schedule and made a public appearance on April 21, 2005, to attempt to gain support from the Canadian people to let the inquiry run its course before an election is called. The situation became worse in May, when Parliament passed a motion asking one of its committees to express its lack of confidence in the government. The Liberals dismissed this as a procedural matter, causing some to accuse them of governing unlawfully by ignoring parliamentary tradition. The Conservatives and Bloc interpreted it as a vote of non-confidence, and they combined their votes to shut down the House of Commons early, two days in a row. Martin drew fire when he decided to wait for several days before a confidence vote (on the budget) could be held. In the midst of the Parliamentary crisis, Martin's government was criticized for altering that budget radically to win the support of the NDP. Debate raged over increasing government expenditures, although these are unlikely to produce a deficit this year. Among the new commitments was aid for Sudan, though this aid was attacked as a perceived attempt to win the vote of a single independent MP, David Kilgour. Kilgour nevertheless went on to vote against the government.

On May 17, 2005, Conservative Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach crossed the floor and joined the Liberal Party. Martin immediately made her Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. This development changed the balance of power in the Canadian House of Commons in favour of Martin's government and allowed them to pass the budget on May 19, 2005, by only one vote.


Regarding the proposal that homosexual couples be limited to civil unions, instead of being allowed to marry: "Put simply, we must always remember that separate but equal is not equal."

Preceded by:
Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Jean Chrétien
Liberal Leaders
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Claude Lanthier, Prog. Cons.
Member of Parliament for LaSalle—Émard
Succeeded by:

Template:End box

26th Ministry - Government of Jean Chrétien
Cabinet Posts (1)
Preceded by:
Gilles Loiselle
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by:
John Manley
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Preceded by:
Jean Charest
Minister responsible for the Federal Office
of Regional Development - Quebec

Succeeded by:
John Manley


See also

External links


de:Paul Martin (Politiker) es:Paul Martin fr:Paul Martin gl:Paul Martin id:Paul Martin ja:ポール・マーティン no:Paul Martin pl:Paul Martin simple:Paul Martin Jr. fi:Paul Martin sv:Paul Martin


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