Former Canadian finance minister Michael Wilson dies at 81

Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson attends The International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Former federal finance minister Michael Wilson died Sunday at the age of 81.

His death was confirmed by a statement from the University of Toronto, where Wilson served as Chancellor from 2012 to 2018.

Wilson served multiple cabinet positions under Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, which included Minister of International Trade, Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister of Finance.

Under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Wilson helped negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and introduced the federal goods and services tax (GST).

READ MORE: NAFTA deal reached: Canada, U.S., Mexico reach trade agreement under new name

He first entered politics in 1979 when he was elected MP for the newly created Etobicoke Centre riding.

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Finance Minister Michael Wilson is pictured showing off his new shoes prior to the upcoming federal budget on Feb. 20, 1986 in Ottawa. The Canadian Press

His life in politics first ended in 1993, but he was later appointed Canadian ambassador to the United States by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, which he served until 2009.

Wilson had senior roles at UBS Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and most recently was the chairman of Barclays Capital Canada.

After his son Cameron died by suicide in 1995 at the age of 29, Wilson became an advocate for mental health issues — which included serving as the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada for the past four years.

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Tributes to Wilson poured in after his death.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wilson’s work “will leave a lasting impact on our country” and “we’ve lost a truly great Canadian,” while former Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wilson “served Canada with exceptional skill and dedication” and “embodied the best of public service.”

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said he is thankful for Wilsons’ “dedication to mental health advocacy.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “one of the most intelligent, decent people” he has ever met.

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