Hell or High Water
My Life in and out of Politics
by Paul Martin
Paul Martin was the Prime Minister we never really knew — in this memoir he emerges as a fascinating flesh and blood man, still working hard to make a better world.
“The next thing you know, I was in a jail cell.” (Chapter 2)
“From the moment I flipped his truck on the road home to Morinville…” (Chapter 3)
“When I came back into Aquin’s headquarters I had a broken nose.” (Chapter 4)
These are not lines that you expect in a prime ministerial memoir. But Paul Martin — who led the country from 2003 to 2006 — is full of surprises, and his book will reveal a very different man from the prime minister who had such a rough ride in the wake of the sponsorship scandal.
Although he grew up in Windsor and Ottawa as the son of the legendary Cabinet Minister Paul Martin, politics was not in his blood. As a kid he loved sports, and had summer jobs as a deckhand or a roustabout. As a young man he plunged into family life, and into the business world. After his years as a “corporate firefighter” for Power Corporation came the excitement of acquiring Canada Steamship Lines in Canada’s largest ever leveraged buy-out, “the most audacious gamble of my life.”
In 1988, however, he became a Liberal M.P., ran for the leadership in 1990 and in 1993 became Jean Chrétien’s minister of finance, with the country in a deep hole. The story of his years as perhaps our best finance minister ever leads to his account of the revolt against Chrétien, and his time in office.
Great events and world figures stud this book, which is firm but polite as it sets the record straight, and is full of wry humour and self-deprecating stories. Far from ending with his defeat in 2006, the book deals with his continuing passions, such as Canada’s aboriginals and the problems of Africa.
This is an idealistic, interesting book that reveals the Paul Martin we never knew. It’s a pleasure to meet him.
From the Hardcover edition.
- McClelland & Stewart, October 2009
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