Former Canadian finance minister Michael Wilson dies at 81
Former federal finance minister Michael Wilson died Sunday at the age of 81.
His death was confirmed by a statement from the University of Toronto, where Wilson served as Chancellor from 2012 to 2018.
Wilson served multiple cabinet positions under Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, which included Minister of International Trade, Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister of Finance.
Under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Wilson helped negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and introduced the federal goods and services tax (GST).
He first entered politics in 1979 when he was elected MP for the newly created Etobicoke Centre riding.
Finance Minister Michael Wilson is pictured showing off his new shoes prior to the upcoming federal budget on Feb. 20, 1986 in Ottawa.The Canadian Press
His life in politics first ended in 1993, but he was later appointed Canadian ambassador to the United States by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, which he served until 2009.
Wilson had senior roles at UBS Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and most recently was the chairman of Barclays Capital Canada.
After his son Cameron died by suicide in 1995 at the age of 29, Wilson became an advocate for mental health issues — which included serving as the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada for the past four years.
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Tributes to Wilson poured in after his death.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “one of the most intelligent, decent people” he has ever met.
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
Michael Wilson was a true giant, not just because of his impressive political service, but even more so as a real champion for raising awareness about mental health. RIP #CdnPoli
— Rocco Rossi (@roccorossiTO) February 11, 2019
Michael Wilson, 81 has died. Probably Canada’s greatest Finance Minister. May be known best for his courageous leadership against mental illness, after his son Cameron died by suicide. I worked with him for 20 years on this topic. You will be missed dear friend.
— Don Tapscott (@dtapscott) February 11, 2019
I’m sorry to learn that a great man, parliamentarian & mental health advocate has passed. Michael Wilson https://t.co/6Jjt6557hi
— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) February 11, 2019