Paul Martin's entry to politics brought great expectations

Paul Martin Jr. is nominated to run for member of Parliament, but there are far greater goals on the horizon.

Many expected Martin to become PM one day -- and he did

Over six terms in Parliament, Paul Martin went from being an MP to the prime minister of Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Thirty years ago, nobody was underestimating the significance of Paul Martin Jr.'s nomination to run for the Liberals in the Montreal-area riding of LaSalle-Émard.  The only one downplaying the event was Martin himself.

As we see in this CBC News report from May of 1988, the millionaire shipping magnate states he simply wants to represent the people of his riding. 

Paul Martin: No ordinary candidate

34 years ago
Duration 1:45
Paul Martin Jr. is nominated to run for member of Parliament, but there are far greater goals on the horizon.

"This is the beginning of my campaign to become the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard — period," the younger Paul Martin told reporters that day.

The first step?

But reporter Paul Workman tells viewers that few people believe Martin does not harbour bigger ambitions.

"Getting elected may very well be the first step in achieving something his father never could — a leadership of the Liberal party," Workman says.

Indeed, Martin would go on to become the country's finance minister, when the Liberal government led by Jean Chrétien held a majority in Parliament in the 1990s.

Paul Martin sought -- and won -- the Liberal leadership in 2003. This victory led to him succeeding Jean Chrétien as leader. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

And Martin would eventually succeed Chrétien as Liberal leader and prime minister.

On Dec. 12, 2003, Martin was sworn in as prime minister, after winning the leadership at what seemed more of a coronation than a convention, where he had rock stars singing his praises and, more importantly, the vote of almost every single delegate in the building.

As can be seen in this clip from the festivities, the landslide leadership victory was the formal start of the Paul Martin era.   

Bono speaks at the 2003 Liberal leadership convention, won by Paul Martin. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

For many, the highlight of the 2003 leadership convention was not the future prime minister, but the appearance of Irish rock star and activist Bono. 

The lead singer of U2 gave a meandering speech honouring Martin, Canadian idealism and the legacy of Liberal global consciousness as championed by Pearson, Trudeau and Chrétien. 

In the June 2004 election, Paul Martin's Liberals achieved only a minority government.

Saddled with the fallout from scandals and in spite of political manoeuvres that included a speech to the nation asking for more time, a no-confidence vote was held in November 2005 and Martin was forced to call an election for Jan. 23, 2006. 

Stephen Harper's Conservatives won a minority government in that election. The Tories, led by Harper, would remain in power for another nine years.

Paul Martin stepped down as Liberal leader soon after his party was defeated at the polls in 2006. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Following his own party's defeat at the polls, Martin soon resigned as party leader. Bill Graham then became the Liberals' interim leader until a convention was held later that year. 

Martin remained as MP for LaSalle-Émard until the the 2008 election, when he did not run for the seat again. He had held the seat through six straight elections.