top of page

The Call of the World: Former Liberal Leader Bill Graham Dies

Hon. Bill Graham (NATO Association of Canada (NAOC) Flickr)

Former Federal Minister of Defence and Liberal Leader Bill Graham passed away Monday at the age of 83.

Graham who served in the House of Commons for 14 years served on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, before being called into Cabinet by Former Prime MInsiter Jean Chretien.

In January of 2002, Graham was named Minister of Foreign Affairs. His time at Foreign Affairs was dominated by the American-led invasion of Iraq, in which Graham and Chretien both decided to not support the US led mission after the attacks on September 11th 2001.

After the 2004 Federal Election, the Liberals were left in a minority position and then Prime Minsiter Paul Martin shuffled Graham into the Ministry of Defence.

After the 2006 election and the Liberals were removed from power after 13 years, Graham was selected to lead the Party until the party could select a new leader. He retired from politics in February of 2007 and vacated his seat for incoming Liberal MP Bob Rae.

In 2016, Graham published his memoirs "The Call Of The World: A Political Memoir"

Outpouring of Support From Politicians

After news broke of the former Liberal leaders passing, messages of sorrow and sadness flooded social media from politicians from all political stripes.

Former Prime Minsiter Paul Martin said in a statement released by former speechwriter Scott Reid, "During my time as Prime Minister, he served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and, later, Minister of National Defence where needed funding was reinvested into the Armed Forces under his guidance.

"Also at Defence, Bill helped our government and the country navigate a challenging period of history as we deployed into Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan," Martin stated.

Former Prime Minsiter Stephen Harper, who faced off against Graham for the first year as Prime Minsiter said in a tweet, "Bill Graham was the first Leader of the Opposition I had when I was Prime Minister. 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."

Former Deputy Premier of Ontario George Smitherman - who served alongside Graham representing the people of Toronto Centre - said, "Feeling very shaken on news of Bill Graham's passing. I can't help but reflect on his enormous gifts and the goodness and love with which he conducted his life. My thoughts to the entire Graham clan and the countless people William C Graham touched."

Senator Peter Harder - who served under Graham during his time at Foreig Affairs - stated, "My deepest condolences on the passing of the Hon. Bill Graham. He was a remarkable man, a gentleman and a delight to engage with. It was an honour to serve as his Deputy Minister when he was our foreign minister."

Former Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole in a tweet said, "Bill Graham was a dedicated and thoughtful parliamentarian. He also showed great passion for our military and veterans long after his time as Defence Minister. RIP"

Former Deputy Prime Minsiter Shelia Copps said in a post, "Sorry to learn of the passing of Bill Graham. He was the ultimate gentleman politician. Always ready to listen to a different point of view. A generous philanthropist and fervent Canadian. His life was all about how to govern better - together. Condolences to family and friends!"

Incumbent Minsiter of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly posted, "The news of Bill Graham’s passing is heartbreaking. Bill paved the way for better foreign policy, dialogue and diplomacy. Canada and Canadians around the world are better because of Bill’s tireless work. "


bottom of page