Mulroney, Brian (Martin Brian Mulroney)mŭlrōˈnē, –rōˈnē, 1939–, Canadian prime minister (1984–93). Raised in Quebec in a working class family, Mulroney was a successful bilingual lawyer who became active in provincial politics in the 1970s. In 1983 he was elected both national leader of the Progressive Conservative party and to Parliament. In 1984 he became prime minister. In 1987 he negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States; in 1992 Canada, the United States, and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mulroney tried, through the failed Meech Lake Accord, to settle the problem of the constitutional status of Quebec. In 1992 he engineered a subsequent constitutional compromise on the problem of provincial autonomy; it was defeated in a national referendum. Mulroney resigned in 1993 in the midst of a recession.
His reputation was subsequently sullied by allegations in 1995 that he had received kickbacks as a result of Air Canada's deal with Airbus. Although the government settled (1997) a defamation lawsuit Mulroney brought against it, it was later confirmed that he had accepted at least $225,000 in cash from a German lobbyist from 1993 to 1994, though why it was paid (or exactly how much was paid) was not made clear in subsequent investigations. A government inquiry ultimately (2010) questioned Mulroney's credibility and said he had acted inappropriately.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.