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Paul Martin

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
Profession: businessman, politician
Political Party: Liberal

The Right Honourable Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, (born August 28, 1938 in Windsor, Ontario) is the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, succeeding Jean Chrétien on December 12, 2003. He is leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and was re-elected with a minority government on June 28, 2004, the first in 24 years, with the Liberals obtaining 135 of 308 seats in the Canadian House of Commons.


Early life

A businessman and politician, Paul Martin is from a 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, his mother, Eleanor "Nell" Adams, 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 Bachelor of Arts 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 Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree 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 distinguished private-sector career. He served as:

  • President, CEO, and Director of the CSL Group Inc.
  • Chairman and CEO of Canada Steamship Lines
  • Vice-President of the Power Corp. of Canada
  • Corporate Director for C.B. Pak Inc, Redpath Industries Ltd, Fednav Ltd, The Manufacturers Life Insurance Co, Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd, and Imasco Corp.

Finance Minister

Martin ran CSL successfully until 1988, when he 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. Regardless, 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 and was on the verge of financial crisis. 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 to about 50 per cent from a peak of 71 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 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as top world leaders.

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 race of 1990, and privately often condemned Martin in bitter terms to his aides. After Chrétien's third electoral victory in 2000, 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 "resigned" (many would say Chrétien dismissed him) 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. Soon after, Chrétien announced he would not seek a fourth term as prime minister. Insiders speculated Chrétien's popularity had declined to the point where he could no longer challenge Martin.

Paul Martin's bid to replace Chrétien was successful and on September 21, 2003 he secured 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 the Governor General as the 21st Prime Minister of Canada.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan 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 had questionable results. Martin 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. His opponents, however, state that as finance minister he must have known about these activities.

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. 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 strong minority 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.

Preceded by:
Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada Incumbent
Preceded by:
Jean Chrétien
Liberal Leaders Incumbent
Preceded by:
Federal riding created in 1987
Member of Parliament for

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

  • Prime Minister of Canada - Premier ministre du Canada, official website
  •, his official website
  • Paul Martin, critical analysis and satire on Martin
  • Waiting for Martin, a new documentary on the PM
  • NDP site discussing Paul Martin's operation of Canada Steamship Lines
  • Making of the Paul Martin myth

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:37:07
Last updated: 02-20-2005 19:56:56