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The Liberal Party and Paul Martin go way back - all the way back to his dad, Liberal MP Paul Martin Sr. Three times, he ran for the party leadership. Three times, he lost.
But his values made a huge impact on Paul Jr., who was first elected as an MP in 1988. Two years later, Martin ran for the Liberal leadership - only to lose in a nasty battle with Jean Chrétien. So, it was a bit of a shock when Chrétien became Prime Minister and named Martin his finance minister. In that job, Martin famously wiped out a $42-billion deficit and built up a surplus - though critics said he cut too deep to do it. Martin lasted until 2002, when his longtime feud with Chrétien exploded.
Martin resigned, or was ejected, from cabinet. The next year, Chrétien stepped down
and Martin was back in - as party leader and prime minister.
In the next election, he won a minority - but it didn't last long. The sponsorship scandal, from the Chrétien era, hurt Martin - and in the 2006 election, he lost to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, ending 12 years of Liberal rule. Now Martin's focus is on development in Africa and aboriginal rights here at home - primarily access to decent, equally funded education. Meanwhile, Martin's Liberal Party - under leader Michael Ignatieff - has suffered its worst election result in party history.
At the moment, Martin is making news with his assessment of the current financial crisis - he believes it can be an opportunity for Canada, and at least one pundit is suggesting that the U.S. government should tap Martin for help with the crisis stateside. He's still getting respect for his financial vision.