Michael Wilson (Canadian politician)

For other people named Michael Wilson, see Michael Wilson (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Michael Wilson
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Etobicoke Centre
In office
Preceded by Riding created
Succeeded by Allan Rock
Canadian Ambassador to the United States
In office
13 March 2006  19 October 2009
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Frank McKenna
Succeeded by Gary Doer
Chancellor of the University of Toronto
Assumed office
Preceded by David Peterson
Personal details
Born Michael Holcombe Wilson
(1937-11-04) 4 November 1937
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Political party Progressive Conservative
Spouse(s) Margie Wilson
Profession Businessman

Michael Holcombe Wilson, PC CC BComm DSL LLD (born 4 November 1937) is a Canadian diplomat, politician and business leader.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Wilson attended Upper Canada College, Trinity College at the University of Toronto where he joined The Kappa Alpha Society. He was a Bay Street investment executive when he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament in the 1979 general election. He served in various portfolios in the governments of Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. He served as the Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 2006 until 2009 when he was succeeded by Gary Doer.

Early political career

Wilson was a candidate at the 1983 Progressive Conservative leadership convention. He tried to woo young delegates by having the rock group Spoons perform on his behalf. He dropped off after the first ballot, and urged his supporters to vote for the eventual winner, Brian Mulroney.

Mulroney appointed Wilson Minister of Finance when the party formed a government after the 1984 election.

He reformed the tax system to broaden the tax base and lower tax rates, removing many special tax provisions, and helped negotiate the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement. Wilson also introduced the Goods and Services Tax in 1990, a tax which is still in place today and is considered a necessary source of federal income, despite being unpopular with consumers.[1]

In 1991, after seven years as Minister of Finance, Wilson became Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister of International Trade. In that role, he participated in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Return to private life

Wilson was not a candidate in the 1993 election, and returned to Bay Street to head his own consulting and financial services firm. He later rejoined Royal Bank of Canada and was Chairman and CEO of RT Capital when that business was sold to UBS AG. Wilson was formerly Chairman of UBS Canada.

In recent years he has become a spokesman for a lobby group promoting public–private partnership. He was Chairman of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance. In September 2003, Wilson was installed as chancellor of Trinity College.

He is a mental health advocate, having lost a son to depression and suicide; he established the Cameron Parker Holcombe Wilson Chair in Depression Studies at the University of Toronto. He also sits on the board of directors for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

He is active in many other organizations, including the NeuroScience Canada Partnership, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the Loran Scholars Foundation, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

On 30 October 2003, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2010.[2]

On April 9, 2015 it was announced that Wilson was appointed the new board chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada [3]

He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.[4]

Ambassador to the United States

On 16 February 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the nomination of Wilson as Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America. He succeeded Frank McKenna in Washington, D.C. Wilson became the 22nd Canadian Ambassador to the United States on 13 March 2006 when U.S. President George W. Bush accepted his credentials.

Allegation of leaks during 2008 Democratic presidential campaign

In March 2008, it was alleged that Wilson told the Canadian media that US Presidential candidate Barack Obama was not serious about his promise to opt out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Liberal MP Navdeep Bains called on Wilson to step down as Canada's ambassador to Washington while the alleged leaks are investigated. Wilson has publicly acknowledged that he spoke to then-CTV reporter Tom Clark, who first reported the leaks, before the story aired, but refused to discuss what was said.[5][6]


  1. Simpson, Jeffery. "The GST Hated By Many Stands The Test Of Time". theglobeandmail.com. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. Governor General announces 74 new appointments to the Order of Canada
  3. "Statement from Louise Bradley on the appointment of new board chair". Mental Health Commission of Canada. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  4. http://www.trilateral.org/download/file/TC_%20list_5-12%20(2).pdf
  5. Clark, Campbell. "Envoy faces calls to resign in NAFTA leak probe". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-06-05.
  6. Harper, Tim (11 March 2008). "Envoy's role in leak questioned". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
Parliament of Canada
21st Ministry – Cabinet of Joe Clark
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
' Minister of State for International Trade
24th Ministry – Cabinet of Brian Mulroney
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
John Crosbie Minister for International Trade
Tom Hockin
Benoît Bouchard Minister of Industry, Science and Technology
Jean Charest
Marc Lalonde Minister of Finance
Don Mazankowski
Academic offices
Preceded by
Rt. Rev’d John C. Bothwell
Chancellor of the University of Trinity College
Succeeded by
Bill Graham
Preceded by
David Peterson
Chancellor of the University of Toronto
2012 – present
Current holder
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