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Former prime minister Brian Mulroney testifies at the Oliphant inquiry into his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber in Ottawa on May 15, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney testifies at the Oliphant inquiry into his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber in Ottawa on May 15, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Brian Mulroney reflects on prime-ministerial perseverance Add to ...

In a reflective and personal foreword to a book for young Canadians about Sir John A. Macdonald, Brian Mulroney writes about the loss of his elder brother, how his life might have been different if his brother had lived and the perseverance of prime ministers.

"Prime ministers are human beings," Mr. Mulroney writes in the foreword to The Legends of Lake on the Mountain: An Early Adventure of John A. Macdonald. "They suffer devastating personal tragedies, sacrifice their personal freedom, and agonize over the issues that might threaten their beloved country. They do this on behalf of all Canadians. But they persevere."

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The book about Sir John A. - Canada's first prime minister - is to be released next week. It is the second book in the Leaders & Legacies series on Canada's prime ministers from Fireside Publishing House.

The first was The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder: An Early Adventure of John Diefenbaker. The books are mostly fictional accounts of the prime ministers as young men.

In his foreword, Mr. Mulroney notes the personal parallels between he and Macdonald. "We both lost a brother," he writes. "I was always struck by the fact that even late in life Sir John A. had never forgotten his brother, even recording his death in the family's memorandum book, where for some reason, it had been left out.

"My brother - who was also named John - sadly passed away short after he was born. While I never knew him I often wonder what it would have been like to have had an older sibling. I wonder about the kind of person he might have been. I wonder how our lives might have been shaped by one another."

Mr. Mulroney had written in his memoirs about the mystery around his late brother, who died within hours of his birth. The family never found out where John was buried; his late mother never spoke about it.

"We do know that somewhere in Buckingham, Que., in June of 1935, John Mulroney was buried with neither a trace nor a memory. I often reflected on the sadness of the story and my complete powerlessness, even in the highest office in the land, to make it right in any way," Mr. Mulroney wrote.

Mr. Mulroney's son, Ben, named one of his twin boys John. The pair was born in August.

The elder Mulroney, meanwhile, encourages young people to learn from the perseverance of prime ministers. "If I were to take on the role of mentor for even a brief moment, I would say to any young person reading, persevere," he writes in the foreword. "Persist as John A. Macdonald did. Find your own unique way to serve your family, community or country."

Roderick Benns, who is behind this historical venture for young Canadians, said it wasn't difficult to persuade Mr. Mulroney to participate. He noted, too, that Mr. Mulroney was only the second Conservative prime minister, after Sir John A., to win back-to-back majority governments.

"As well, I think they had a lot in common with Macdonald, in terms of their ability to connect with others, command loyalty, and build partnerships - and all of these are necessary for effective governing and statesmanship," Mr. Benns said.

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