The Right Honourable Paul Martin was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006 and its Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002 and the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Ã‰mard in Montreal, Quebec in the period 1988 to 2008.
During his tenure as Minister of Finance, he erased a forty-two billion deficit in four years, subsequently recording five consecutive budget surpluses, while paying down the national debt and setting Canadaâ€™s debt-to-GDP ratio on a steady downward track. He also introduced the largest tax cuts in Canadian history and the largest increases in the federal governmentâ€™s support for education and research and development. In conjunction with his provincial counterparts, he restored the Canada Pension Plan, securing it for future generations. He also strengthened the regulations governing Canadaâ€™s financial institutions, with the result that Canada is now viewed as an international model for sound financial regulation. In September 1999, Mr. Martin was named the inaugural chair of the Finance Ministersâ€™ G-20, an international group of finance ministers and central bank governors, composed of the G-7 and emerging market nations. He is respected internationally in large part for his innovative leadership in working to forge a new global financial order.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Mr. Martinâ€™s many achievements include setting in place a ten year, forty-one billion dollar plan to improve health care and reduce wait times; signing agreements with the provinces and territories to establish a national early learning and child care program and creating a new financial deal for Canadaâ€™s municipalities. Under Mr. Martinâ€™s leadership in November 2005, the Canadian Government reached an historic consensus with Canada's provinces, territories, First Nations, MÃ©tis and Inuit leaders that would eliminate the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians in the areas of health, education, housing and economic opportunity. This agreement became known as the Kelowna Accord. Further, he introduced the Civil Marriage Act, which redefined the traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Since leaving office, Mr. Martin co-chaired a high level panel, responsible for submitting a report on a new strategic vision for the African Development Bank, following upon an earlier United Nations panel report on private sector investment in the Third World which he had co-chaired.
Currently Mr. Martin, along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, co-chairs a two hundred million dollar British-Norwegian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the ten-nation Congo Basin Rainforest. He also sits on the advisory council of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, an initiative that examines the critical issues facing the continent. It is sponsored by the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. He is also a member of the International Monetary Fundâ€™s Western Hemisphere Regional Advisory Group.
Domestically, he is leading two new initiatives. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative which aims at reducing the Aboriginal youth dropout rate and at increasing the number of Aboriginal students attending post-secondary institutions. He also founded, along with his son David, the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship Fund, whose investments seek to further a culture of economic independence, ownership and entrepreneurship amongst both on and off reserve Aboriginal peoples, through the creation and growth of successful businesses.
Prior to entering politics, he had a distinguished career in the private sector as a business executive at Power Corporation of Canada in Montreal and as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CSL Group Inc, which manages one of the worldâ€™s most important fleets of self-unloading vessels, offshore transshippers and handy-size bulk carriers. Its acquisition by Mr. Martin in 1981 represented the largest leveraged buyout in Canada at that time.
Mr. Martin studied philosophy and history at St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto before obtaining his LL.B. from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1966.
He married Sheila Ann Cowan in 1965. They have three sons: Paul, Jamie and David and they are the proud grandparents of Ethan and Liam, children of David and his wife Laurence.