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Mulroney’s legacy on Indigenous affairs mixed but not failing – The Record

March 6, 2024

He was the most vocal opponent to South African apartheid on the international stage but he struggled to connect the dots between apartheid and Canada’s own relationship with Indigenous Peoples, writes Gary Whetung

Since his death, Canadians have been reflecting on the legacy of Brian Mulroney. We will be debating that legacy for years to come.

It includes his international leadership against South African apartheid, his attempts at constitutional reform (unlikely to be undertaken by any other prime minister for a long time), the acid rain accord, and the introduction of the goods and services tax.

But it was in the strengthening of Canada-U. S. relations and North American free trade where he has left his mark. Those efforts didn’t just impact our economy; they had a major impact on our culture, as well.

For those too young to remember what Canada was like in the 1980s, it was very different from the country we live in today. In 1984, one of our predominant concerns was the “Canadian identity.” It almost sounds ludicrous to speak in such terms today. Canada has a very diverse population — and did even then. To try to distil it into something singular and unified was never going to fly. But no matter: we had policies, regulatory frameworks, and institutions, focused on maintaining Canadian content in media.

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