Martin, Paul


Martin, Paul
in full Paul Joseph Martin, Jr.

born Aug. 28, 1938, Windsor, Ont., Can.

Canadian prime minister (from 2003).

The son of Paul Joseph Martin, who served as a minister in four Liberal governments, the younger Martin studied law at the University of Toronto and was called to the bar in 1966. Instead of practicing law, however, he joined Canada Steamship Lines, a freight carrier that he purchased in 1981. From 1993 to 2002 Martin, a member of the Liberal Party, served as the minister of finance in Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government. Highly successful in the post, Martin eliminated a large budget deficit, achieved five consecutive budget surpluses, and secured the largest tax cut in Canadian history. In 2003 Martin succeeded Chrétien as leader of the Liberal Party and as prime minister.

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▪ 2004

      On Nov. 14, 2003, Paul Martin was chosen at the Toronto convention of the governing Liberal Party to succeed Jean Chrétien as prime minister of Canada. Martin, who headed a multinational shipping company and had also served as one of the most successful ministers of finance (1993–2002) in Canada's history, took office on December 12.

      Paul Joseph Martin, Jr., was born on Aug. 28, 1938, in Windsor, Ont. His father, who had served as a minister in four Liberal governments and was a principal architect of Canada's post-World War II social policy, was an influential model for his son. Paul, Jr., attended the University of Toronto and was called to the bar in 1966. Martin did not practice law, however, and instead joined Canada Steamship Lines, a Montreal firm; he built the domestic-freight carrier into a strong multinational company and went on to purchase it.

      Though he had been on the fringe of the Liberal Party, in 1988 Martin won election to the House of Commons from a Montreal riding, and two years later he made a bold bid for the leadership of the party. He lost to Chrétien. In the contest between the two men lay the roots of the tension that had bedeviled their relationship as cabinet colleagues. When the Liberals won the 1993 election, Chrétien appointed Martin minister of finance. Martin proved outstandingly successful; he wiped out a Can$42 billion (about $U.S. 32 billion) deficit, achieved five consecutive budget surpluses, and gave Canadians their largest tax cuts in history. He also won respect as an international financier, concentrating on relieving the financial crises of the Third World's emerging market economies.

      Though Martin had emerged as the mainstay of the Chrétien government, he was dropped from the cabinet in 2002 when he refused to abandon leadership ambitions. He built up strong support within the party, however, and won over constituency organizations from coast to coast. As other contenders withdrew from the leadership race, the convention became more like a coronation than a contest.

      Martin's goals as prime minister appeared to contradict those he had espoused as finance minister. On the one hand he spoke glowingly of the need for progressive social policies, but on the other hand he had reduced spending on health care. Though he urged that Canada play a larger role in the international community, his fiscal restraint had weakened Canada's armed forces. He also believed that Canada should act as a responsible neighbour of the United States and be prepared to cooperate in strengthening border security. What was certain was that his approach, derived from both parliamentary experience and boardroom tactics, would be prudent and pragmatic yet touched by an inherited idealism.

David M.L. Farr

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▪ prime minister of Canada
in full  Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, Jr. 
born August 28, 1938, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
 
 Canadian politician and prime minister of Canada (2003–06).

      Martin's father, Paul Joseph Martin (Martin, Paul Joseph James), served as a minister in four Liberal governments and was a leading architect of Canada's post-World War II social policy. The younger Martin attended the University of Toronto, graduating from its law school in 1964, and was called to the bar in 1966. He did not practice law, however, and instead joined Canada Steamship Lines, a Montreal firm. He built the domestic-freight carrier into a strong multinational company and in 1981 purchased it.

      Though he had been on the fringe of the Liberal Party (Liberal Party of Canada), Martin in 1988 won election to the House of Commons from a Montreal riding (district). Two years later he made a bold bid for leadership of the party but lost to Jean Chrétien (Chrétien, Jean). When the Liberals won the 1993 election, Chrétien appointed Martin minister of finance. Martin was extremely successful in the post, eliminating a large budget deficit, achieving five consecutive budget surpluses, and securing the largest tax cut in Canadian history. He also won respect as an international financier, concentrating on relieving financial crises in the developing world.

      Though Martin had emerged as a mainstay of the Chrétien government, he was dropped from the cabinet in 2002 when he refused to abandon leadership ambitions. He built up strong support within the party, however, and won the backing of constituency organizations from coast to coast. In 2003 Chrétien announced his impending retirement, and, at the Liberal Party's November convention, Martin was chosen to succeed him. As prime minister, Martin sought to foster economic growth and introduce progressive social policies. He also wanted Canada to play a larger role in the international community.

      In 2004 Martin called early federal elections in an effort to win a public mandate for his premiership. Despite allegations of corruption against the Liberal administration, Martin led the party to a fourth successive election victory. Nevertheless, the party lost nearly a quarter of its seats, and Martin led a minority government.

      Martin's administration struggled to maintain power, the struggle made more difficult by a political crisis generated by an ongoing inquiry into a sponsorship scheme in Quebec that allegedly involved the Liberals funneling money to advertising firms associated with the party for little or no work while Martin was finance minister. Despite the investigation, Martin pursued major reforms of the country's health care system and secured passage of legislation that legalized same-sex marriage. In foreign policy, relations with the United States were sometimes tense, particularly over trade issues and U.S. opposition to the Kyōto Protocol, which aimed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In November 2005 a report emanating from the investigation into the financial scandal in Quebec was highly critical of the Liberals and former prime minister Chrétien, though Martin himself was personally exonerated. A motion of no confidence against Martin's government passed the House of Commons, forcing a general election. The Liberals were defeated, and Martin resigned as prime minister and as head of the party.

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Universalium. 2010.

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