21st Century Council
The Right Honourable Paul Martin was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006, Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002 and he served as the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard in Montréal, Québec from 1988 to 2008.
During his tenure as Minister of Finance, he erased Canada’s deficit which was the worst of the G7, subsequently recording five consecutive budget surpluses while paying down the national debt and setting Canada’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 government’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 Canada’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 Ministers’ G-20, an international group of finance ministers and central bank governors composed of the G-7 and emerging market nations. As Prime Minister he pushed strongly for its elevation to the Leaders’ level which subsequently occurred in 2008. 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. Martin’s many achievements included 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 Canada’s municipalities. Under Mr. Martin’s leadership in November 2005, the Canadian Government reached an historic consensus with Canada's provinces, territories, First Nations, Métis 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.
Currently, Mr. Martin co-chairs the two hundred million dollar British-Norwegian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the ten-nation Congo Basin Rainforest. His co-chair up until recently was the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Wangari Maathai. 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 Fund’s Western Hemisphere Regional Advisory Group.
Domestically, he leads 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.
Before entering public life he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CSL Group Inc, which operates the world’s largest fleet of self-unloading vessels and offshore transshippers. Its acquisition by Mr. Martin in 1981 represented the most important leveraged buyout in Canada at that time.
Mr. Martin graduated in honours philosophy and history from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of Toronto Law School. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1966.
He married Sheila Ann Cowan in 1965. They have three sons: Paul, Jamie and David. They are the proud grandparents of Ethan, Liam and Finn, children of David and his wife Laurence.