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Paul Martin, Jr.

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Paul Joseph Martin, Jr., Canadian businessman and statesman, was born on August 28, 1938 in Windsor, Ontario. Martin served as Finance Minster for many years, and is expected to be the next Prime Minister.

His father, Paul Martin Sr.[?], spent 39 years as an elected member of the Canadian House of Commons and ran three times for the leadership of the Liberal party, in 1948, in 1958 and again in 1968. Martin Sr. was also long considered the Prime Minsiter in waiting to succeed Lester B. Pearson, but in a shocking upset the young academic Pierre Trudeau beat him in 1968.

A graduate of the University of Toronto Law School, he also studied at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto, where he graduated with an honors degree in philosophy.

He was hired by the giant conglomerate, Power Corporation of Canada[?], controlled by long time family friend and one of the wealthiest businessmen in Canada, Paul Desmarais[?], and in 1974 Mr. Martin rose to the presidency of Canada Steamship Lines. In 1981, Power Corporation of Canada sold Canada Steamship Lines[?] to Mr. Martin and a partner for $180 million.

Mr. Martin ran his successful company until 1988 when he was elected as the Member of Parliament for the electoral district of LaSalle-Émard in Montreal, Quebec. When his Liberal Party won the 1993 election[?], Mr. Martin was immediately appointed Minister of Finance. At the time, Canada had one of the highest annual deficits of the G7 countries and was teetering on the verge of a financial crisis. As Finance Minister[?], Martin began making drastic cuts to government spending and was ultimately responsible for a deficit-free Canada budget for five consecutive years for the first time in 50 years. The Canadian provinces and territories, who all receive Federal funds each year for various programs, too had to implement fiscally stricter policies in light of Mr. Martin's cutting the amount each Province is given annually.

During his tenure, he was responsible for lowering Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to about 50 per cent from a peak of 71 per cent in the mid-1990s. In December 2001, he was named as a member of the World Economic Forum's "dream cabinet." The global business and financial body listed Mr. Martin along with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as top world leaders.

Nation wide opinion polls consistently show Mr. Martin to be the most popular politican in the country by a wide margin. His supporters see him as a key reformer of out-of-control government spending and the architect of the Liberal party's center-right platform, whereas his detractors accuse him of making unnecessary, massive, and shortsighted cuts, crippling the social safety net, and buying votes with irresponsible tax breaks. Martin is one of the few finance minsiters in Canadian history to emerge from the position with a high personal popularity among th Canadian people.

The personal popularity, and his well known desire to lead the party put him and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on a collision course. In 2002 he was dismissed due to a dispute with the prime minister. He was replaced as finance minister by John Manley.

Paul Martin is seen by many as a near certainty to replace current Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who has announced his intentions to retire in February 2004. The leadership convention to decide th next leader will occur in November 2003.

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