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Paul Martin

For other people named Paul Martin, see Paul Martin (disambiguation).

The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin
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 current Prime Minister of Canada, serving from December 12, 2003.

Early Life

A businessman and politician, Paul Martin is from a political family. His father, Paul Martin, Sr, served 39 years as a member of the Canadian House of Commons and was a cabinet minister in four liberal governments. Martin Jr. was fortunate in having 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 Osgoode Hall Law School where he received his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1964. He was called to the Ontario bar in 1966.

In 1965, Martin married Sheila Ann Cowan. They have three sons, Paul, Jamie and David. He was employed by the giant Montreal-based conglomerate Power Corporation of Canada, controlled by long-time family friend and one of the wealthiest businessmen in Canada, Paul Desmarais. In 1974 Martin assumed the presidency of Canada Steamship Lines, a subsidiary of Power Corporation. In 1981, Power Corporation sold Canada Steamship Lines Inc (CSL) to Martin and a partner, Laurence Pathy, for $189 million. In 1988, Martin bought out Laurence Pathy, and took full control of CSL. Concerns have been raised about a potential conflict of interest stemming from Martin's position as Prime Minister and his ownership of CSL. Martin has responded by selling CSL to his sons. However, this action has not entirely quelled the concerns.

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. When the Liberal Party won the 1993 election, 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 made drastic cuts to federal government spending. His efforts resulted in deficit-free budgets for the Government of Canada between the years 1997 and 2002. The Canadian provinces and territories have also implemented fiscally stricter policies in response to Martin's cuts in federal funding of provincial programs.

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.

Nation-wide opinion polls consistently show Martin to be the most popular politician in the country by a wide margin. His supporters see him as a key reformer of out-of-control government spending and the architect of the Liberal Party's neo-liberal platform. His detractors accuse him of putting the bottom line before people, crippling the social safety net, and buying votes with irresponsible tax breaks. Nevertheless, such perceptions have not hurt Martin's popularity, which remains high in all regions of the country.

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. Chrétien dismissed Martin from Cabinet and replaced him with 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. Chrétien announced he would not seek a fourth term as prime minister.

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.

Preceded by:
Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada

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