Former finance minister Michael Wilson dead at 81
Published Sunday, February 10, 2019 7:20PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:36PM EST
Condolences are pouring in for former Progressive Conservative finance minister Michael Wilson, who has died at the age of 81 from cancer.
Wilson was sent to Ottawa as the MP for Etobicoke Centre in 1979. He ran for the leadership of the PC Party in 1983, and lost to Brian Mulroney.
Mulroney became prime minister the following year and appointed Wilson finance minister. In that role, Wilson ushered in the Goods and Services Tax.
He was shuffled to the industry and international trade file in 1991, and helped to negotiate free trade with the United States and Mexico.
Wilson retired from politics in 1993. His son Cameron died by suicide in 1995, and Wilson went on to become an early advocate for mental health awareness.
He also served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States, chancellor of the University of Toronto and worked in senior roles at a number of banks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late Sunday that Wilson’s dedicated service to Canada “will leave a lasting impact on our country.”
“We’ve lost a truly great Canadian,” the prime minister said. “My condolences to his family and friends,” he added.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he and his wife Jill were saddened by the news.
“We’re thankful for his service to Canadians and his dedication to mental health advocacy,” Scheer tweeted. “Our prayers are with his family and loved ones this evening,” he wrote.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen also offered their condolences.
“Michael Wilson served Canada with exceptional skill and dedication,” Harper said on Twitter. “From the Cabinet table to serving our country with dignity and wisdom as Ambassador in Washington, Mike embodied the best of public service,” he added.
In a Tweet Sunday evening, Toronto Mayor John Tory called Wilson “one of the most intelligent, decent people I have ever met, inside or outside of politics and public life.”
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Twitter Sunday that Wilson had a “profound impact on countless Canadians” and “leaves behind an impressive legacy.”
John McDermid, a former PC MP from Ontario who served in cabinet with Wilson said on Twitter that Wilson will be missed. “Great Canadian,” McDermid wrote.
Meric Gertler, the president of the University of Toronto, issued a statement saying he was proud of the school’s alumnus and former chancellor.
“From spearheading public policy of the highest significance to publicly confronting the challenge of mental illness, Michael Wilson was a true champion,” Gertler wrote.
Michael Wilson was one of the most intelligent, decent people I have ever met, inside or outside of politics and public life. He was a steady, capable MP, Minister and Ambassador and led in historic changes such as Free Trade and the GST which transformed Canada for the good.— John Tory (@JohnTory) February 11, 2019
Sad to hear of the passing of former colleague and friend, the Hon. Michael Wilson. We served in the Govts. of Rt. Hon. Joe Clark and the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney. Served with Mike as his Junior Minister of State, Finance and Privatization. I will miss him. Great Canadian. pic.twitter.com/doCKg6vH9r— Hon.John McDermid PC (@snortonhorton) February 11, 2019
Sad news. I was inspired by Michael’s kindness and hard work - especially his passion to promote mental wellness and healing. Sincere condolences to his family. https://t.co/NpHsPo4mhV— Jane Philpott (@janephilpott) February 10, 2019
Jill and I are saddened to hear that former Finance Minister and Ambassador Michael Wilson has passed away. We’re thankful for his service to Canadians and his dedication to mental health advocacy. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones this evening.— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) February 11, 2019
Michael Wilson’s dedicated service to Canadians - including his important work as Minister, Ambassador, and passionate advocate for mental health - will leave a lasting impact on our country. We’ve lost a truly great Canadian. My condolences to his family and friends.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 11, 2019
This is a sad day. Michael Wilson served Canada with exceptional skill and dedication. From the Cabinet table to serving our country with dignity and wisdom as Ambassador in Washington, Mike embodied the best of public service. Laureen and I extend our heartfelt condolences.— Stephen Harper (@stephenharper) February 11, 2019