Paul Martin, real name Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, Jr., is a Canadian businessman and politician who served as Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006. He was born on August 28, 1938, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Martin’s father, Paul Joseph Martin, was a leading architect of Canada’s post-World War II social policy and served as a minister in four Liberal governments. Martin, Jr. graduated from the University of Toronto’s law school in 1964 and was admitted to the bar in 1966. He did not practice law, however, and instead worked for the Montreal-based Canada Steamship Lines. He transformed the domestic freight carrier into a powerful international corporation, which he bought in 1981.
Paul Martin was elected to the House of Commons from a Montreal riding in 1988, despite being on the fringes of the Liberal Party (district). Two years later, he made a daring challenge for the party’s presidency but was defeated by Jean Chrétien. Martin was named Minister of Finance by Chrétien after the Liberals won the 1993 election. Martin was an outstanding president, eradicating a massive budget deficit, managing five straight budget surpluses, and gaining the highest tax cut in Canadian history under his tenure. He has gained a reputation as a multinational financier by focusing on resolving financial problems in developed countries.
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Paul Martin had been a mainstay of the Chrétien administration, but he was dismissed from the cabinet in 2002 after refusing to give up his leadership aspirations. He did, however, gain broad popularity within the group and the support of constituent groups from coast to coast. Chrétien declared his resignation in 2003, and Martin was elected to replace him at the Liberal Party’s November convention. Martin’s goal as Prime Minister was to promote economic prosperity and radical social policies. He also desired for Canada to take a more active part in foreign affairs.
Martin called early federal elections in 2004 in the hopes of gaining popular support for his premiership. Martin led the Liberal Party to a fourth consecutive election win after charges of wrongdoing against the government. Despite this, the party lost almost a fifth of its seats, and Martin was forced to lead in a minority.
Martin’s government failed to stay in office, hampered by a political scandal sparked by an unfolding investigation into a Quebec sponsorship scheme in which the Liberals secretly funneled funds to advertisement agencies affiliated 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.
In 2008 Martin released the memoir Hell or High Water: My Life In and Out of Politics.