Former cabinet minister Bill Graham has died. He was 83.
Graham served as minister of foreign affairs under prime minister Jean Chrétien and was later appointed minister of national defence under prime minister Paul Martin.
He also served as leader of the opposition and interim leader of the Liberal Party.
He was the member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, known as Rosedale and Toronto Centre—Rosedale during much of his time in politics.
In a statement, Martin said he and his wife were sorry to hear the news, noting he met Graham in law school.
The former prime minister said funding was reinvested to the armed forces under the guidance of Graham, and that he helped the government navigate a challenging period of history as Canada’s military deployed into Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan.
“His loss will be felt by all who knew or worked with him,” Martin said. “Sheila and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Cathy, his children, Katy and Patrick and his beloved grandchildren.”
Ralph Goodale, who worked as finance minister alongside Graham, called him a decent man in every respect, especially in matters of foreign policy and defence.
Goodale — who was persuaded by Graham to accept a $13-billion increase in defence spending — said he was an optimist who tried to see the best in people.
“Bill understood the complexities and the sinkholes of international politics, and sought to position Canada in constructive and practical ways to help build a fairer and safer world,” Goodale said by email.
“In an era of deep polarization and extremist populism, Bill’s sense of moderation, propriety and balance is sorely missed. Our love and respect surround his family, friends and colleagues.”
Former prime minister Stephen Harper also offered kind words about the man who once stood across him in the House of Commons.
“Bill Graham was the first Leader of the Opposition I had when I was prime minister,” Harper said in a statement.
“Even while a determined opponent, Bill was always a gentleman, and he always kept the best interests of the country in mind. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Retired general Rick Hillier worked with Graham after Hillier became chief of the defence staff in 2005.
“I am so sorry to hear the news of Minister Graham’s passing,” he said. “He was a proud Canadian, an astute politician and a minister of defence who understood the urgent need to rebuild the Canadian Forces and dedicated himself to that mission.
“He was a pleasure to support as [chief of the defence staff], and had my respect and admiration. He was also a man of his word and esteemed in the eyes of all those with whom he worked or associated.”
Hiller called Canada a lesser country today without Graham.
In a tweet, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra called Graham “my friend and mentor.”
“He was a giant in Canadian and international politics,” Alghabra said.
“He wore his love for Canada on his sleeve. My condolences to his family.”
I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and mentor Bill Graham. He was a giant in Canadian and international politics. He wore his love for Canada on his sleeve. My condolences to his family.