In The 1990′S. Essay, Research Paper
The destruction of the Progressive Conservative Party started in 1983 when it named Brian Mulroney the successor to Joe Clark as head of the Progressive Conservative Party. The next year elections were held and the Progressive Conservatives won record two hundred and eleven seats. He was then re-elected in the four years later as the Conservatives won another majority. Brian Mulroney was the heart of Canadians dislike of politicians and government in general. The news media claimed the recession of the 1990 s was made in Canada as a result of the Federal government s policies of high interest rates and free trade. Other causes were movement of some industrial production to Mexico and the introduction of the popular Goods and Sales tax. By the winter of 1991, the economic situation in Canada was being compared to the worst years of the depression of 1929-1939. Twenty five per cent of the people living in Metropolitan Toronto were receiving government assistance. It s no wonder why people did not hold their government in high esteem. Brian Mulroney resigned from office in 1993. There had been scandals and cover-ups and the strong suspicion that among those in power had looked after themselves and their colleagues at the expense of the citizens who had elected him.
One of Brian Mulroney s biggest mistakes as leader of the Progressive Conservatives was his policy on the oldest and most politically dangerous topics in Canada, Free Trade with the Americans. It was unusual that someone from the PC party would support. Historically, Conservative leaders have tended to oppose the initiative, while the liberals have supported it. Mulroney said in his pre-election campaign that If it affects Canadian sovereignty and we will have none of it, not during leadership campaigns or at any other time. Two months later, Mulroney s Finance Minister, Michael Wilson said that there are opportunities to trade with the Americans. Ronald Reagan, who was President of the United States at this time, talked Mulroney into accepting Free Trade. Even though there were threats in Ontario saying that over 280,000 manufacturing jobs in Ontario would be lost; it had no affect on the Prime Minister. Quebec would end up gainig with Free Trade but Ontario, P.E.I and Manitoba were against it. Free Trade seemed to be a mistake as many factories closed and many people lost their jobs around the country. Although at the time many Canadians weren t interested in Free Trade, in the long road Mulroney lost the trust of many of his supporters for contradicting himself about this policy.
When it came to Mulroney s Social Policies, many people were confused. Although social justice was one of his major campaign building blocks, he had never been consistent on the issue. In 1994, the Tories found themselves embroiled in a dispute over what they said or didn t say about social spending. It seemed that the P.M and his finance minister were in conflict about how much money was going where. Mulroney repudiated statements made by Wilson in a taped interview with the Canadian Press. Wilson said that the Conservatives had purposely hidden their intentions to redirect social spending because they were afraid the liberals would use it to their advantage. Mulroney then said, Nothing could be farther from the truth. For weeks and months later, Mulroney never made it clear his policy on social spending; stating that nothing will change or he was open to dialogue. The Tories were now starting to lose points in the polls due to the lack of trust the people had in their leader.
Throughout most of his years in office debating endlessly the pros and cons of a distinct society for Quebec. The longer this went the more unpopular the Prime Minister became, especially in Western Canada. In most elections in modern times, the Conservatives have done quite poorly in Quebec. It s hard to form a government without strong support from Quebec. Because Mulroney was from Quebec, he gained instant support from Quebeckers even though he was from Irish ancestry. The fact that a he was a leader of French descent and he didn t bother English Canadians helped him win the PC party win the election. Free Trade ended up hurting Mulroney more than it did help him because it benefited Quebec more than any other province and this bothered Western Canada. Mulroney also encouraged support for the Meech Lake Accord. Every province but Quebec signed it and Mulroney promised that he would get Quebec to sign the constitution. With the growing hatred of Quebec looming through out the country, combined with the P.M s greatest concern being with this province, it again helped the Tories plunge in public support. The Tories ended up granting Quebec distinct society status and Quebec signed the constitution. The other leaders approved this distinct society because they wanted Quebec to sign the constitution. This was big reason why the Conservative Party did so well in the 1988 election.
If there is one thing Brian Mulroney and his Tories will be remembered by, it would be their increase in taxation. The Goods and Services Tax was created by the Conservative Party in 1991, during Mulroney s reign as Prime Minister. An added seven per cent would now be added on to the Provincial Sales Tax. Income Tax was also raised substantially. Under Mulroney, the average Canadian family is now paying fifty-two percent more- or $1,300 in personal taxes than under the liberals. At the same time, corporations are paying eighteen percent less. This shows that the Tories were taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Canadians therefore cut back on spending, mainly because they had less to spend. This hurt both the merchants and manufactures and led to further layoffs. At this point, the Canadian economy was in the worst shape it s been in since the depression of the 30 s. Unfortunately, once a downward spiral starts it is very hard to stop. Antipathy toward the government in Ottawa increased because it claimed that its policies were the right ones for the times, even if they hurt.
One of the most shocking stories that came out during the Mulroney years was the talk of scandal. There were flagrant kickback schemes, bid-rigging on government contracts, misappropriation of parliamentary budgets, favours to corporate supporters of the party, and a unprecedented spree of appointments that didn t end until the day Mulroney left office. Mulroney took in twenty-five million dollars in a single year through a well-crafted system of rewards. From Gala dinners at 24 Sussex Drive to lucrative government contracts. The scandals didn t end there. There also was the pension reform scandal and the CF-18 aircraft maintenance scandal. Mulroney took advantage of a vulnerable Canada who gave all their trust to their leader.
Brian Mulroney resigned in 1993, shortly after the Charlottetown Accord failed. Another reason for his resignation was the unlikely event that he would be re-elected. This led to the first woman in the history of Canada to be named Prime Minister. The only problem was she didn t have much of a chance at success. The Tories basically threw her at a pack of starving wolves. After her election as party leader and Prime Minister, it looked as if Campbell would lead her party to victory a third time. But when the real election began her support plummeted. She seemed shallow and her campaign appeared to be very poorly run. She also could not distance herself from Brian Mulroney, who by 1993 was the most unpopular Canadian leader in modern times. In 1999, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is a man by the name of Joe Clark. The odds are against him but he is slowly trying to build the parties reputation again.
Brian Mulroney was a man who was incapable of ridding his government of corruption. He enjoyed an imperial lifestyle while in office, and left office with a personal wealth that has never been revealed. After almost a decade of the Mulroney Tories, Canadians lost faith in their government and came to despise a once proud party. The Conservatives deserve the reputation for sleaze and deserve the defeat they suffered and will continue to suffer at the hands of the Canadian voters.