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Paul Martin: Like father, like son?

Paul Martin Jr. has worn many crowns: captain of industry, slayer of the deficit, heir to his father's Liberal party leadership aspirations. But the crown he most desperately wanted took two decades to attain, and just two years to lose. Martin's ascent to the Prime Minister's Office was slow, calculated and fraught with obstacles. The CBC Archives website looks back at the political career of the Right Honourable Paul Martin.

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He was one of the most influential Canadians never to lead the country. Paul Martin Sr. served in cabinet under four different Liberal prime ministers, but could never win the party leadership. Now his son Paul Martin Jr. has taken the plunge into politics. Many, including the panellists on this episode of Front Page Challenge, think the younger Martin may one day succeed where the father failed. While he won't speculate on that, the elder Martin expresses supreme confidence in his son's bright future. 
• Paul Martin Sr. was first elected to Parliament in 1935, and served as a Member of Parliament for 33 years. He entered cabinet in 1945 and served under prime ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St-Laurent, Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

• Considered one of the most left-leaning Liberal cabinet members, Paul Martin Sr. was instrumental in shaping post-war social policy and founding medicare. He served as the minister of labour, minister of national health and welfare, secretary of state for Canada and secretary of state for external affairs.
• Paul Martin Sr. made two unsuccessful bids for the Liberal leadership, a decade apart: in 1958 (losing to Pearson) and in 1968 (losing to Trudeau).

• Paul Martin Sr. was appointed to the Senate in 1968 and led that body until his appointment as high commissioner to the United Kingdom in 1974. He was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1976 and served as chancellor of Wilfred Laurier University between 1972-77. He died on Sept. 14, 1992.

• Paul Martin Jr. was born on Aug. 28, 1938 in Windsor, Ont. In 1946, he contracted polio and became so ill that he couldn't speak for a year. His father was so shaken that he vowed to push the Liberal cabinet to ensure all Canadians had access to full health care.

• His mother, Eleanor (Nell) Adams, was a woman of Scottish, Irish and Métis descent. The family moved to Ottawa when Paul Martin Sr. became an MP, in 1946. To improve their son's French they enrolled him in a private French middle school.

• Some sources, including Wikipedia, argue that the designations of "Jr." and "Sr." for the two men are inaccurate. Under the strictest definition, the terms are used only for family members with the exact same name, including middle names. The elder Martin's full name is Paul Joseph James Martin, while the younger's full name is Paul Edgar Phillipe Martin (the same rule can be applied to U.S. presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush). Most Canadian sources do not observe this distinction.
Medium: Television
Program: Front Page Challenge
Broadcast Date: Dec. 14, 1988
Guest(s): Paul Martin Sr.
Panellist: Pierre Berton, Allan Fotheringham, Pat Carney
Duration: 4:27

Last updated: February 26, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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