Martin received an honorary degree from U of T in June 2011 and told law students at Convocation how much he envied them as part of the new group of “lawyers without borders” helping define the intricacies of the interconnected global marketplace.
Martin spoke as few others can, given his experience, expertise and leadership, both in Ottawa as finance minister and prime minister and internationally as a respected politician.
During his time as finance minister, he transformed Canada’s deficit, then the worst among G7 nations, into five consecutive budget surpluses. He is often cited as the father of the G20 group of world leaders which gained prominence following the original incarnation that brought together finance ministers and central bank governors.
While prime minister, Martin set in place a $41-billion plan to improve health care and reduce wait times, signed agreements with the provinces and territories to establish a national early learning and child care program, and created a new deal for Canada’s municipalities. He also created the Kelowna Accord to aid aboriginal Canadians and introduced the Civil Marriage Act which allows for same sex couples to marry.
Since leaving office, Martin has focused on two major areas close to his heart – Africa and aboriginal affairs. He co-chaired a $200 billion British-Norwegian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the 10-nation Congo Basin Rainforest. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative aims at reducing the aboriginal youth dropout rate and increasing the number of young people from native communities attending post-secondary schools. He also founded, with his son David, the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship Fund. It promotes economic independence, ownership and entrepreneurship among on- and off-reserve aboriginal peoples through the creation and growth of successful businesses.