‘A great friend’ to the U.S.: Clinton, Bush reflect on Brian Mulroney

Click to play video: 'Mulroney lies in repose in Montreal for second day'
Mulroney lies in repose in Montreal for second day
For a second day, Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is lying in repose in Montreal. As visitors paid tribute to the Baie-Comeau native, his family says they find comfort in the love people had not only for Mulroney as a politician, but for the man he was. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports – Mar 22, 2024

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Brian Mulroney was the type of politician who took risks to do what he “thought was right in the long run” and an “old friend” after the two men left elected politics.

In special memorial program airing Saturday on all Corus AM radio stations, Clinton praised Mulroney’s willingness to move ahead on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite skepticism about the deal among the Canadian public at the time.

“You have to take some risks in … and he was willing to do that,” Clinton told Global for the special Remembering Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney: A Family Tribute.

“I still think we did the right thing with NAFTA, and I think the results prove it. And the fact (the deal) had to be upgraded after 25 years doesn’t bother me a bit.”

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Corus is the parent company of Global News.

Clinton was one among many former politicians, celebrities and regular Canadians paying tribute to the former prime minister, who passed away in Florida last month at the age of 84.

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Hundreds came to Ottawa this week to pay their respects while Mulroney laid in state at the Sir John A. Macdonald building, just steps from Parliament where the former prime minister served from 1983 to 1993.

On Thursday, Mulroney will lie in repose at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Montreal before his state funeral at Notre-Dame Basilica on Saturday.

Clinton recalled running into Mulroney after the two men were out of elected politics.

“It’s not what we talked about, it’s just the way it was. It felt like we were old friends still doing what we could, and I love that,” Clinton said. “He was good on the phone, because he had such a wonderful voice. It almost felt like someone was singing to you, you know?”

Clinton is not the only former U.S. president who noted Mulroney’s melodic delivery.

“This man could sing,” said George W. Bush.

Bush recalled a visit with his wife Laura to visit the Desmarais in a “remote” part of Canada where Mulroney was in attendance.

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“It might have been after a few wines that he got up and sang some beautiful Irish hymns, and he had a great voice.”

Bush said an “amazing” aspect of Mulroney was his deep knowledge of American politics.

“(He) would call and offer insights, not on a regular basis, he knew how busy the president can be, but on occasion,” Bush said. “And, plus, I would see him when he would visit my mother and dad (former U.S. President George H.W. Bush), and we would sit around and talk American politics or politics in general. He was a great friend to the United States, but first and foremost his number one priority was the people of Canada.”

On Saturday, Talk Show Host Roy Green will provide a complete funeral recap on The Roy Green Show from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, across all Corus AM stations in Canada. The show will be followed by the special program, Remembering Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney: A Family Tribute, hosted by the late Prime Minister’s son, Ben Mulroney. The show will feature special guests including former United States President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, five-time Grammy award-winner, Michael Bublé and renowned actress and singer, Reba McEntire.

A condensed version of the one-hour special will also air one day prior on Friday, March 22, at 5 p.m. ET., 9 a.m. CT., 2 p.m. MT, and 6 p.m. PT.

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