The Canadian | Ronald Corey and Brian Mulroney, friendship

Ronald Corey knew his friend had prostate cancer. Last year, the former president of the Canadiens himself was diagnosed with cancerous melanoma.

Corey and Mulroney met “a few months ago, we talked about our illnesses. He came to my wife’s party last May,” Corey recalls on the phone.

But it is by responding to the call of The PressThursday evening, that Corey learned of the death of the former Prime Minister of Canada.

“We are losing a great Canadian, one of our best prime ministers,” said Ronald Corey. I have enormous respect for him. He brought a lot. His presence was noted internationally. It’s really a great loss. Such a nice, warm man. We often talked about politics, sports, everything. He was a good friend, a good family man. »

Hockey fans of the 1980s remember the image of Mulroney, sitting behind the Canadiens bench at the Forum, often side by side with Corey. Their relationship dates back to 1969, Corey calculates.

The man who was president of the team from 1982 to 1999 attended several Canadian games with Mulroney. But he has a very specific memory of January 12, 1985, when the young 45-year-old prime minister was his guest at the Forum. That evening, the Habs highlighted the 75e anniversary of its creation.

“Aurèle Joliat was 83 years old. He arrives at the Forum around (3 p.m.), with his bag and his skates. He says: I still skate, I still go on the Rideau Canal, says Corey, imitating Joliat’s voice. We take a drink. Doug Harvey arrives, he knew Mr. Joliat well. He says: well yes, he still skates well!

“Brian is coming, he was my guest in my dressing room. The ceremony begins, everyone is crazy. The former players are presented one by one, they will throw in goal against Jacques Plante. So Mr. Joliat skates, he doesn’t see the red carpet in the middle of the rink and he falls on his face. He gets up and goes to count his goal. I turn to Brian, nearby. Both of us turned white as a sheet! »

The new Forum

Ronald Corey became friends with Brian Mulroney over the years. Their ties were close, so much so that they are both mentioned in around fifty articles in The Pressmainly in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1988, Corey even denied a rumor that he was considering making the jump to federal politics.


“He really loved hockey. I remember that I gave him a Canadian jersey, with the number 1, and he gave it as a gift to Margaret Thatcher. »

Their relationship also served Corey well when it came time to launch the future Molson Center project. “The new Forum: the matter is not in the bag”, was the headline The Press 1er May 1991.


“I was doing business with Jean Charest, who was (federal Minister of the Environment). He had mentioned to Brian that he had met me for the new Forum. And Brian said to Jean: make it work! »

“Great diplomat”

Brian Mulroney and Serge Savard were, at the same time, two of the most powerful men in Canada, cynics will say. Mulroney as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993, Savard as general manager of the Canadiens from 1983 to 1995.

The two men often crossed paths. “He wanted to talk about hockey, and I wanted to talk about politics. We both changed the subject!, remembers Savard. He loved the Montreal Canadiens to the depths of his soul.

“But he knew how to make friends. During the big years of the Canadian-Nordiques rivalry, he was also friends with Marcel Aubut. He wasn’t his enemy. He was a great diplomat. »

Savard is in the same political league as Mulroney. He describes him without hesitation as “the best prime minister in the history of Canada.” »

“If you ask people what Trudeau, father and son, accomplished, they will have a hard time. But for Mulroney, people will name the free trade (NAFTA), the GST, the end of apartheid. Under Mulroney, Canada was very visible internationally, it had weight. Mrs Thatcher, Gorbachev, they became her friends. It’s much better to negotiate with friends. »

Savard considers that Mulroney was “not a close friend, but a friend”, whom he met from time to time. Last November, a gala was organized to highlight the career of Dr Mulder, and part of the sums raised went to the Serge Savard Fund of the Fondation de l’Université de Sherbrooke and to the Emergency Fund for the centennial of the Anciens Canadiens.

“We raised 1.5 million, and of that, we received $50,000 in the name of Mila and Brian Mulroney. We know people who have money. Some are generous, others not. Brian was exceedingly generous. »


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