Remembering Brian Mulroney

While tributes have poured in from those of all political stripes, some who knew Mulroney personally have been taking the opportunity to share many rich memories and fascinating stories. Photo Credit: Canadian Heritage/X.


As former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney lies in state this week, Canadians from coast to coast have been reflecting on the life of a man who had a lasting impact on the economic veracity, social fabric and international prestige of the nation. While tributes have poured in from those of all political stripes, some who knew Mulroney personally have been taking the opportunity to share many rich memories and fascinating stories. 

The Hon. Pauline Browes served as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (1984-1993) for Scarborough, as well as a Cabinet Minister for Prime Minister Mulroney. 

“With the passing of Brian Mulroney, it is almost unreal, because he was such a force, a generous and kind individual, who treated everyone well, and was always keen to listen to the opinions of others,” Browes shared in a recent interview with The Niagara Independent. “You think an amazing individual like that will go on forever.” 

While Browes had a keen interest in Conservative politics from a young age, serving as the campaign manager for Margaret Birch (first female provincial cabinet minister in Ontario), she did not plan to run for elected office until being asked by Mulroney in 1983. 

“My father, Robert Earl Drope (a farmer and distinguished World War I Veteran), served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1945-1949,” Browes explained. “Growing up, our family read the Globe and Mail daily and always discussed politics over the dinner table. I was very excited when Mr. Diefenbaker, who had visited our home when I was growing up, became Prime Minister, and I have been involved in politics for my whole life.” 

“Still, I was a combination of surprised and honoured when a friend of mine, during a lunch over Christmas 1983, told me that Mr. Mulroney wanted me to run for the PCs in Scarborough.” 

As a Member of Parliament in Mulroney’s governments, Browes worked tirelessly for her constituents. Among her most notable accomplishments, which she completed while serving as parliamentary secretary to the Environmental Minister, Thomas McMillan, was trailblazing the “urban park” designation, which, along with convincing Parliament and securing substantial federal financial backing, was utilised to save the majestic Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. 

“It took many years of hard work and overcoming tremendous adversity to realise this goal,” Browes shared. “The provincial Liberals had wanted to develop the area, but by collaborating with Mr. McMillan, Finance Minister Michael Wilson, and my wonderful constituents in Scarborough, we achieved great success.” 

“Many cabinet ministers visited the Rouge, during the negotiations, and we almost had Prime Minister Mulroney visit himself, but the security detail believed that the area was too vast to guarantee.” 

Similarly to when Mulroney asked her to run for the Scarborough seat, Browes says it was a great surprise when he called inviting her to join the cabinet. 

“It was Saturday, and I was intricately involved in preparing for a major committee meeting taking place on Monday in Toronto,” Browes said. “Mr. Mulroney called, recognized my contributions, and invited me to become the Minister of State for the Environment, with a swearing-in ceremony to take place the next day. I told him that the next day was environment day, to which he answered ‘Well, it is most appropriate, then!’ And I asked if I could bring my family, to which he said, ‘Yes, you definitely should bring them, as this only happens once!’” 

Browes concluded by reflecting on the uniqueness of this moment in time. 

“I am saddened by Mr. Mulroney’s passing, but grateful for the opportunity to attend his state funeral in Montreal, to spend a little bit of time honouring such a great Canadian, who put our country on the map by doing so much good work,” Browes said. “Whether we are talking about opposing apartheid in South Africa, accomplishing the Free Trade Agreement, achieving the acid rain treaty with the United States, among so many other things, I believe that Mr. Mulroney will go down not only as the greenest Prime Minister, but also as the greatest international Prime Minister.” 

“And, all throughout the years since he left office, he has always made himself available to meet with a Prime Minister, Premier, Minister, and to provide advice to those who sought it, regardless of party affiliation. It was an incredible honour to serve in this government!” 


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