Brian Mulroney on .... [PoliticsWatch updated 4:50 p.m., September 11, 2007]
|Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's
much-anticipated Memoirs went on sale on Monday.
OTTAWA — The
Right Honourable Brian Mulroney assails his rivals and praises his
friends in his new book.
(1939 to 1993), published by Douglas Gibson Books, went on
sale on Monday and has quickly become a best seller.
While much of the media attention has focused on his comments
about former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and former Quebec premier
Lucien Bouchard, Mulroney also offers his opinions on many of his
contemporaries through personal journal entries and comments in the
PoliticsWatch provides highlights of some of these comments.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Because Memoirs ends in 1993, there is little direct comment
about the current prime minister, who was a Hill staffer for
backbench Conservative and Reform MPs during the Mulroney-era.
Mulroney does praise Harper for naming his former deputy chief of
staff, Senator Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the
Senate, calling it an "excellent decision."
Former prime minister Paul Martin
In his book, Mulroney credits himself with convincing Martin to turn
down a job at the United Nations to stay on at Power Corp. in the
early 1970s. He refers to Martin as someone he had "come
to know and like."
However, as a politician, Mulroney's early analysis of Martin the MP
in a personal journal entry dated April 17, 1989 sounds like many
media commentators assessing Martin after election night in
"Paul has not done well in his brief time here, in large
measure I believe because expectations were so unrealistically high
about him," Mulroney wrote. "He is a nice, quite gentle
individual who may turn out to be a wonderful neighbour but an
Former prime minister Jean Chretien
About a year before the 1990 Liberal leadership campaign, Mulroney
anticipated in one of his journal entries that Chretien would be the
winner and feared that his "populist approach" would give
the Liberals a short-term boost in the polls.
"Chretien is a man of some considerable charm and certain
political advantages," Mulroney noted. "His disadvantages
include intellectual insolence and a considerable measure of vanity.
These, combined with habitual Liberal arrogance, could cause him
Mulroney, however, incorrectly predicted in a 1993 journal entry that
the U.S. election victory of the mid 40s Bill Clinton and Al
Gore would have a negative impact on the national leadership
ambitions of a 59-year-old Chretien.
Former prime minister Kim Campbell
Mulroney's assessment of Campbell's abilities as his successor are
anything but kind.
"I am confident in saying this: the PC Party would have been
left with a hell of a lot more than two seats had it been me facing
off against Jean Chretien in October 1993," Mulroney
On Campbell's leadership speech to the 1993 PC leadership convention,
Mulroney said she sounded like "an accountant before the
U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton
In his memoirs, Mulroney recounts his first visit to the Clinton
White House in 1993 where Bill Clinton informed him that he would
appoint First Lady Hillary Clinton to head a panel to examine U.S.
While Mulroney called Mrs. Clinton the "brightest and
ablest" to study the issue, he correctly recommended Clinton
reconsider his decision.
"She'll become the target of personal attacks from all the
special interests. So if we were in Canada I'd say, 'Don't do
it,'" he recalls telling the president.
Former Vice President Al Gore
Mulroney proudly notes in his book that during the 1992 Rio
Earth Summit Al Gore was quite pleased that Mulroney
recommended to then U.S. president George Bush that he read
Gore's environmental book Earth In the Balance.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion
The current Liberal leader's recent comments in Policy Options
magazine are used as expert testimony by Mulroney to bolster his
argument in favour of the Meech Lake Accord and against Trudeau's
"The worst constitutional error in the history of Canada is
probably Mr. Trudeau's campaign against Meech," Mulroney quotes
Stephane Dion as saying. "Mr. Trudeau was wrong in saying that
Meech would destroy Canada."
Dion also said in the interview that if Meech had passed
Chretien would never have recruited him to bolster federalism
after the 1995 referendum and he would still be a university
professor today instead of being in politics.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Peterson
Despite being a Conservative icon, Mulroney mentions his friendships
with a number of Liberals, including recently retired cabinet
minister Jim Peterson.
"Jim Peterson is a rare specimen in the Liberal party and
indeed in federal politics: a truly happy warrior who supports his
party without denigrating his opponents, and who doesn't have an
ounce of malice or vindictiveness in his soul," Mulroney
Mulroney came into contact with Peterson in Montreal shortly after
the 1968 election and later hosted his going away party that was
attended by big name Liberals, such as Paul Martin, Jim Coutts,
David Peterson and John Rae.
Parliamentary Press Gallery
With the notable exception of columnists Hugh Winsor and the
late Don McGillivray, who Mulroney calls "the older and
sedentary types," the former prime minister does not single out
many Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters in Memoirs.
This is a complete departure from Peter C. Newman's Secret
Mulroney Tapes, where Mulroney's scathing opinions are offered
on numerous journalistic household names --
Richard Gwyn a Liberal "propagandist," and Winsor
"useless, absolutely useless."
Nonetheless, his battle with the Parliamentary Press Gallery is
given in detail and reads like a playbook for Harper's current media
strategy. But unlike Harper, who waged war with the gallery early
on, Mulroney took knocks for a few years before boycotting the
National Press Theatre in 1987.
In February of 1990, Mulroney held his first press conference in
three years at the
National Press Theatre and wrote about it and his battle with the
gallery in a journal entry.
"For a while, the gallery thought I would return on bended knee
and sent me summary resolutions reminding me of my obligations to
'openness' and 'respect for freedom of the press,' all of which I
discarded," Mulroney wrote.
"What eventually got to them, however, was their realization
that they had deprived themselves of regular exposure to the head of
government, thereby doing a substantial disservice to their
readers/viewers and serious damage to their own
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