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PM doesn't make Brian Mulroney's honour roll

Members of Queen's University's Model Parliament meet former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney in Montreal in October, 2010.

Arthu Milnes

Stephen Harper doesn't figure in Brian Mulroney's top-three picks for the most effective federal politician.

That's probably not much of a surprise after the Prime Minister ordered his caucus to have nothing to do with the Conservative legend - even though he helped and advised Mr. Harper when he became leader - because of the inquiry into his dealings with defence lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

Instead the Mulroney honours go to Government House Leader John Baird, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae and NDP Leader Jack Layton. He feels they are the three best "performers" in the House.

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The former Prime Minister revealed his picks to a group of university students - four of the five were from Queen's University's Model Parliament - who travelled to Montreal to meet with him earlier this week.

Arthur Milnes, a Mulroney confidante and a research fellow at Queen's, introduced the students to the former prime minister, who talked to them about debating and politics in advance of the Model Parliament, takes place in the House of Commons in January.

Mr. Milnes said Mr. Mulroney gave his assessment in the "context of how important it is for a leader - or any effective politician - to inspire a crowd or the Commons itself."

About Mr. Layton, Mr. Mulroney noted that the NDP Leader's late father, Robert, was in his cabinet and caucus, mentioning what a gentleman he had been.

And he didn't stop there. Mr. Mulroney also talked about his first meetings with former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his fight with former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and late U.S. president Ronald Reagan over apartheid.

He also told them how nervous he was when, while studying at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, he was the student prime minister in the Maritime Model Parliament and had to debate veteran Liberal Paul Martin Sr.

"I was shaking in my boots," he told the students, according to Mr. Milnes.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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