No doubt progressives across Canada might balk at my praise for the late prime minister Brian Mulroney. True, he brought in the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which I opposed. He made devastating cuts to Via Rail. He championed neoliberalism. On his watch, the military was dispatched to Oka.

But despite all these causes for legitimate criticism, he represented the best of a now-extinct political party: progressive conservatives. The new party — the Reform-Alliance cabal that cannibalized the Progressive Conservatives — was devoid of history.

It received an enormous boost from the media. One and all, they called the new version of Reform-Alliance Conservatives “Tories.” It bestowed on a new and radical party the aura of familiarity, tradition and loyalty. It has left many Canadians political orphans.

The late Progressive Conservative party was the party of environmentalist John Fraser and feminist prime minister Kim Campbell. My friend, the late Flora MacDonald, was a Progressive Conservative, as was Pat Carney, who before her death, became a very dear friend.

None of the Progressive Conservatives I count as friends could possibly support Pierre Poilievre.

So what is the reality behind bestowing on Brian Mulroney in spring 2005 the title the Greenest PM?

The awards, organized and sponsored by Corporate Knights magazine, celebrated achievements.

The green accomplishments of Mulroney as PM were so impressive. He would have deserved Greenest PM for only half of what was accomplished: the treaty to save the ozone layer (1987 Montreal Protocol); the fight against the scourge of acid rain; the early championing of climate action; the treaties adopted at the Rio Earth Summit on biodiversity and climate; protection of waterways and the Great Lakes; the creation of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy; passage of environmental legislation; the Canadian Environmental Protection Act; the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; and the creation of many new national parks, including the hard fight to stop the logging of the ancient temperate rainforest of Gwaii Haanas with the leadership of Haida elders blocking the logging roads.

It was the 2006 awarding of the Greenest PM award when it became clear Stephen Harper was not to be influenced by Mulroney's record and environmental legacy. The new prime minister was invited to introduce Mulroney and could not utter the words “environment,” “Earth Day” or “green.”

Still, Harper lauded Mulroney for championing “significant international environmental measures, including the Montreal Protocol and the Canada-U.S. acid rain treaty, in addition to being the first Canadian Conservative leader to win “back-to-back” majority mandates “since Sir John A. Macdonald, including the largest electoral victory in Canadian history.”

Mulroney’s speech called for early climate action. He made it clear that leadership from the top was required and that partisan differences must not get in the way.

It was in those moments that I realized there was no way I could take Harper on as ED of the Sierra Club of Canada. I had to quit my job and run for leader of the Green Party.

#BrianMulroney would have deserved to be honoured as the "Greenest PM" for only half of what was accomplished, writes @ElizabethMay #cdnpoli

Amazingly, after becoming leader of the Green Party of Canada, my friendship with Mulroney deepened. He gave me encouragement and advice. He cheered me on as I won my seat in Parliament. And when I was in a particularly nasty public experience of humiliation, he actually phoned me. “**##k them if they can’t take a joke.”

One additional accomplishment must be remembered — his fight to end apartheid in South Africa. He led the charge to throw South Africa out of the Commonwealth, going head-to-head with his colleague and ideological twin Margaret Thatcher.

There is a reason Nelson Mandela's first foreign trip after his release from prison and becoming president of a new and free South Africa was to Canada.

No one is perfect.

Obviously, Mulroney was not. There are many complexities and contradictions to his public persona. But this I know: Without him, we might never have talked about climate change due to the ravages of acid rain and ozone depletion.

If we are to address the climate crisis, as it must be addressed, we should start by examining what Mulroney achieved and how he did it. And then we should follow those steps like a recipe book. Like a new version of Diet for a Healthy Planet. In recent history, the missing ingredient has been political courage. That was one thing Mulroney never lacked.

Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party of Canada with Jonathan Pedneault and the member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands. The activist, author and mother was an intervenor in the National Energy Board’s Kinder Morgan hearings.

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"True, he brought in the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which I opposed. He made devastating cuts to Via Rail. He championed neoliberalism." Throw in Air Canada, Petro Canada and Canadian National Railways too.
This part of his legacy, cheering on the "Greed is Good" economics of neo-libralism and the ascendency of individual over community interests has lead to so much additional consumption and lack of regulation as to completely negate the good deed of the acid rain bill. Rampant consumerism and unbridle capitalism is the root cause underlying climate change and environmental destruction. Greed is NOT good.
Mulroney may have been "a nice guy" but his politics were devastating. And while I'm at it, banning South African wines looked good on the international stage, but was a real [political] winner in southern Ontario and the wine belt of BC.