The Right Honourable Paul Martin was Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006 and Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002.
Martin will be regarded favourably in the history books for slaying Canada’s deficit as Canada’s finance minister and twenty-first Prime Minister.
During his tenure as Minister of Finance, he erased Canada’s deficit, subsequently recording five consecutive budget surpluses while paying down the national debt and setting Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio on a steady downward track. He was the inaugural chair of the Finance Ministers’ G-20 in 1999.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Martin set in place a ten year, forty-one billion dollar plan to improve health care and reduce wait times; signed agreements with the provinces and territories to establish the first national early learning and child care program and created a new financial deal for Canada’s municipalities.
Socio-economic justice is also a legacy Martin can claim for himself with justifiable pride. While prime minister, he was instrumental in steering numerous consultations to reach an agreement – the Kelowna Accord – between the premiers, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples to close the socio-economic gap between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. This great leap forward perfectly matched with the professed values and commitments he made during his liberal leadership acceptance statement. In that speech Martin stated: ‘we stand together on the edge of historic possibility. At a moment that comes rarely in the life of a country it is a time when destiny is ours to hold’.
After leaving politics, Martin founded the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative focusing on elementary and secondary education for Aboriginal students and the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund, an investment fund investing in Aboriginal business.
Internationally, he is chairman of the Congo Basin Forest Fund, a 200 million dollar British-Norwegian-Canadian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the ten-nation Congo Basin Rainforest. He sits on the Advisory Council of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, sponsored by the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. Martin is also a Commissioner for the Global Ocean Commission.
Before entering politics, he had a distinguished career as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CSL Group Inc., the largest self-unloading shipping company in the world. Its acquisition by Martin in 1981 represented the most important leveraged buyout in Canada at that time.
Martin studied philosophy and history at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1966.