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The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (1939-2024) and Mrs. Mila Mulroney

Doctors of Laws, honoris causa

Brian Mulroney     Mila Mulroney

For their economic and environmental leadership, for their support for scientific research, and for their service to Canada—and indeed to the world—the university confers proudly upon The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, CC, and Mrs. Mila Mulroney the honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

For over five decades, Mr. and Mrs. Mulroney have made Canada a better place, through their political leadership, their international profile and as champions of charitable causes. 

Mr. Martin Brian Mulroney was born in Baie-Comeau, Quebec in 1939, the son of an electrician. He attended St. Francis Xavier University, studying Arts and Commerce before majoring in Political Science. After graduating with honours in 1959, Mr. Mulroney started studying law at Dalhousie University, and then transferred to Laval University a year later.

In 1964, he took a position with the Montreal law firm of Howard, Cate, Ogilvy, and worked on the Commission of Inquiry into the St. Lawrence Ports; he also served as a commissioner on the Cliche Commission of Inquiry into the Quebec construction industry. Later he entered the business world, becoming President of the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Each activity bolstered his status and recognition across Canada, particularly in his native Quebec. And, between all of his legal and business dealings, he met and married Ms. Mila Pivnicki; last month they celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary.

Born in Serbia, Mrs. Mulroney immigrated to Canada in 1958 with her family. Her psychiatrist father took a position at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and the family settled in Montreal, Quebec. Before she was married, she studied Engineering at Concordia University.

Politics soon beckoned for the Mulroneys. In 1983, Mr. Mulroney won the leadership of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party. In the election the following year, he became Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, leading his party to the greatest majority in Canadian history; four years later, he led his party to a second majority.

Throughout his career, Mr. Mulroney had developed a passionate belief that Canadian economic success could only be secured by unfettered access to foreign markets. He achieved that precious access by negotiating a 1988 Free Trade Agreement with the United States, and then, four years later, Canada jointly negotiated the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Mulroney’s leadership, however, extended beyond trade and economics. In 1987, he hosted world leaders in Montreal, and more than 40 countries signed a pledge to cut drastically the use of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons. A year later, in 1988, Mr. Mulroney hosted the landmark World Climate Change Conference in Toronto, a conference credited with officially putting climate change on the global agenda. Then, in 1991, he signed the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement with U.S. President George H. W. Bush to reduce pollution that causes acid rain. For all of that, in 2006, Mr. Mulroney was named the ‘greenest’ prime minister in Canadian history.

Also during his term, language rights in New Brunswick were entrenched in Canada's constitution. The Nunavut Agreement with the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic set in motion the creation of a third territory in Canada, representing a major achievement in Indigenous land settlement. Internationally, Mr. Mulroney’s opposition to apartheid won him respect around the world, and led to freedom for Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Mrs. Mila Mulroney’s role, work and legacy has proven no less impressive. From 1984 to 1993, she served as National Chairperson of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation of Canada raising millions of dollars for research into this genetic killer of children, while spending countless hours visiting with, encouraging and consoling CF patients and their parents. Mrs. Mulroney also focused on various literacy projects working closely with Frontier College.

Today she maintains her leadership role on behalf of Cystic Fibrosis. Mrs. Mulroney also co-chairs Table of Hope/La Table du Partage, a leading Montreal charity that provides thousands of meals to more than 33 schools in Montreal neighbourhoods. She has also served as a Board Member of Astral Media Inc., the Foundation of The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and the McGill University School of Music. She currently serves as Vice-President of Cansult Communications. In 2019, she received the Knight of St. Sava Order of Diplomatic Pacifism from her native Republic of Serbia, honouring contributions to the motherland.

Mr. Mulroney resigned from politics in 1993, and returned to Montreal to practice law. The Mulroneys remain active in public policy, philanthropy and public life, and enjoy visits from their four children and 15 grandchildren.