Wilson, Michael Holcombe

Michael Holcombe Wilson, politician (b at Toronto, Ont 4 Nov 1937). Brought up in Toronto's comfortable Rosedale district, he attended Upper Canada Coll and U of T. In 1961 he joined the investment firm of Harris and Partners Ltd; apart from 2 years in the Dept of Finance, 1964-66, he remained in the Toronto investment business for 18 years, becoming executive VP of Dominion Securities, 1973-79.

Wilson was elected to the Commons as Conservative MP for Etobicoke Centre in 1979, and was minister of state for international trade in the short-lived CLARK government. He ran for the PC leadership in 1983; disappointed by his first-ballot showing, he threw his support to Brian MULRONEY. He became minister of finance in 1984. Astute, solid and hard-working, he was widely regarded as one of the most successful Cabinet ministers in the Mulroney government.

Wilson was also instrumental in the Conservatives' attempt at reforming Canada's TAXATION structure and in the negotiations for the loosening of trade barriers between Canada and the US. His most controversial act as finance minister was the introduction in 1990 of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The government had to invoke an obscure section of the Constitution Act allowing the appointment of extra senators to get it through the upper house.

In 1991 Wilson left finance to become minister of industry, science and technology, and international trade (1991-93), a new super ministry aimed at increasing Canada's competitiveness. In 1991-92 he negotiated a new free-trade deal with the US and Mexico. (See also: FREE TRADE.) Wilson retired from politics in 1993 to become Chairman of Michael Wilson International (international business advisory and project financial services).