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Brian Mulroney: A stunning landslide victory

In 1984, Brian Mulroney led the federal Conservatives to the biggest election victory in Canadian history. Almost a decade later, the man described as having "Robert Redford eyes and Paul Newman hair," would leave the Prime Minister's Office as the most unpopular prime minister in Canada's recent memory. Mulroney's bold leadership on controversial issues such as free trade, GST and Meech Lake would drastically alter the political landscape of this country.

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Brian Mulroney and his Progressive Conservatives win a record 211 seats out of 282 seats in the 1984 federal election. A day after thumping John Turner and his Liberals, Mulroney is gracious in victory, reports CBC Television. Mulroney ran a successful campaign, promising to pump up the economy, improve ties between Canada and the United States and work toward a better relationship between provincial and federal governments. 
• The defining campaign moment came during the 1984 leadership debate when Mulroney challenged Liberal leader John Turner on the issue of patronage. When Turner supported the last-minute patronage appointments made by his predecessor, Pierre Trudeau, Mulroney attacked Turner saying, "you had an option, sir, to say no, and you chose to say yes, yes to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal Party."

• The patronage issue also got Mulroney in trouble. When Trudeau appointed longtime Liberal Bryce Mackasey to an ambassadorship, Mulroney was quoted as saying: "Let's face it, there's no whore like an old whore. If I'd been in Bryce's position I'd have been right in there with my nose in the public trough like the rest of them." Mulroney later apologized for the remark, saying he had made it off the record. (Michael Bliss's Right Honourable Men 1994)

• Mulroney's dramatic election victory was due to unprecedented support in his native province of Quebec where the Conservatives won 58 of 75 ridings.

• John Turner succeeded Pierre Trudeau as the Liberal party leader and was sworn in as prime minister in 1984. Turner was PM for less than three months.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 5, 1984
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Terry Milewski
Duration: 3:38

Last updated: September 5, 2014

Page consulted on September 5, 2014

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