Advertisement

Former PM Paul Martin gets portrait on Parliament Hill

Click to play video: 'Official unveiling of Paul Martin portrait alongside other Prime Minister’s' Official unveiling of Paul Martin portrait alongside other Prime Minister’s
WATCH ABOVE: Official unveiling of Paul Martin portrait alongside other Prime Minister’s – May 11, 2016

OTTAWA – For years, Paul Martin was a fixture in the halls of Parliament, as finance minister in Jean Chretien’s Liberal government and then as prime minister himself.

Now, a portrait of Martin has been unveiled that will – just as Martin did in real life – displace his former boss.

READ MORE: Federal budget ‘appropriate to the times’: former Liberal PM Paul Martin

The new painting means Chretien’s picture will be bumped down the corridor leading to the House of Commons, because the PMs are displayed in order of their time in office.

The portrait by renowned artist Paul Wyse depicts Martin standing ready for a debate in the Commons.

WATCH: Paul Martin: It was my privilege to serve Canada 
Click to play video: 'Paul Martin: It was my privilege to serve Canada' Paul Martin: It was my privilege to serve Canada
Paul Martin: It was my privilege to serve Canada – May 11, 2016

It’s a reflection on the need for Parliament to shape the policies that affect the every day lives of Canadians, the 77-year-old Martin said after the curtain was pulled to reveal the work.

Story continues below advertisement

“Parliament is important,” Martin told a room filled with family, MPs, cabinet ministers and current and former Liberal staffers, but without the presence of Chretien.

“And I believe if Canadians are to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead in this ever-changing world, they will have to be presented with the choices before them,” he said.

“And that means that Parliament must reclaim centre stage as the place where those choices are made.”

Wyse had to make his own choices as he attempted to capture Martin’s essence with a brush.

The portrait of Martin unveiled Wednesday was actually the second one that Wyse completed.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau thanks Paul Martin for his commitment to Canada 
Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau thanks Paul Martin for his commitment to Canada' Justin Trudeau thanks Paul Martin for his commitment to Canada
Justin Trudeau thanks Paul Martin for his commitment to Canada – May 11, 2016

The first one sits in his private collection because it didn’t properly convey the image of Martin that he was trying to capture, said the artist.

Story continues below advertisement

“There was a lot of things that we discussed that we wanted to have included in the portrait,” Wyse explained.

“But taking a moment and thinking about (the first portrait), it was kind of like rearranging the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to get a better fit.”

Martin used the unveiling to lament the failure of the previous Conservative government to formally adopt the Kelowna Accord, which aimed to improve the health and well-being of Canada’s indigenous peoples.

WATCH: Paul Martin discusses the Kelowna Accord 
Click to play video: 'Paul Martin discusses the Kelowna Accord' Paul Martin discusses the Kelowna Accord
Paul Martin discusses the Kelowna Accord – May 11, 2016

“Had the accord been honoured, I believe we would have lived a very different decade,” said Martin.

“But since 2006, too little has changed. The unfairness was allowed to persist, and time marched on,” the former PM said before congratulating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his actions to rebuild the federal government’s relationship with First Nations communities.

Story continues below advertisement
WATCH: Trudeau: Paul Martin was one of Canada’s most outstanding financial stewards 
Click to play video: 'Trudeau: Paul Martin was one of Canada’s most outstanding financial stewards' Trudeau: Paul Martin was one of Canada’s most outstanding financial stewards
Trudeau: Paul Martin was one of Canada’s most outstanding financial stewards – May 11, 2016

For his part, Trudeau commended Martin for fostering five years of federal budget surpluses during his time at the helm of the Finance Department.

“He confronted a fiscal crisis in this country, one that was on the verge of crippling our economy,” said Trudeau.

“His bold choices were right for the time and ended up paying dividends that we still see to this day.”

The Conservatives were quick to point out what they described as the stark contrast between the Trudeau government’s plan to go into deficit spending with no balancing of the budget in sight, and the measures Martin enacted in the mid-1990s to curb federal spending during times of economic growth.

READ MORE: Trudeau says Paul Martin was right to slash provincial transfers but won’t follow same path

Trudeau also noted that Martin stood with the Liberals in the last election campaign in support of borrowing money to grow the economy.

Story continues below advertisement

Wyse’s other works include portraits of former Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, pop legend Billy Joel and actor Harry Connick Jr.

The portrait of Martin will be the 21st to hang in the Centre Block, occupying a wall space directly across from a main elevator close to Confederation Hall in the corridor leading to the House of Commons.

Sponsored content