Ten things you should know about Ontario PC Party leadership candidate Caroline Mulroney
The race for the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership is getting crowded. There’s Christine Elliott, longtime politician and perennial PC leadership candidate. There’s Doug Ford, the former city councillor and ex-mayoral hopeful. And then there’s Caroline Mulroney, who, despite her familiar surname, is the least well-known among average voters. Here, ahead of the party’s March 10 vote, 10 things to know about the newest candidate for the PC leadership.
She spent her early days in Algonquin Park and Ottawa
1News clippings from the 1980s, the era of her father’s political ascendance, provide a snapshot of Mulroney’s childhood: she went to summer camp in Algonquin Park, like another political scion; she went to a French school; and her mother, Mila, spoke English, French and Serbian to the kids. Mila also scored Caroline and her siblings a visit with Michael Jackson before Brian Mulroney was sworn in as Prime Minister. Caroline was a regular fixture in her father’s photo-ops, and was fodder for the grease-mongers at Frank.
She will give Doug Ford plenty of ammo to wear out the word “elite”
2The Toronto Star shared some details about the Mulroney home in 1995 (she was away at school at the time), reporting that the family’s Montreal pad was worth $837,500 before a $700,000 renovation: “It includes a two-storey stone cottage and an in-ground swimming pool, two refrigerators, two stoves, two garburators and wall-to-wall carpeting throughout.” Liquor magnate Charles Bronfman was one of their neighbours, according to the paper. These days, Mulroney’s kids go to private school, but she’s already making moves to boost her just-like-you quotient. Her sons, pictured above, play hockey, and she gave interviews at an arena on Sunday.
She has some unlikely connections
3When Alanis Morissette was about to receive the key to the City of Ottawa in 1996, the Star reported that students at the singer’s high school were skeptical that the “misery” on Jagged Little Pill was sincere. Why? Because the high school was “the most affluent…in the city,” a student told a reporter. And besides, “Alanis would be out at night with [NHL star] Alexandre Daigle or hanging around with Caroline Mulroney at some dance club.”
She went to Harvard, then law school at NYU
4The Globe reported that Mulroney was “a distinguished student.” She studied at Harvard—where she appears to have made the student paper at least once, after organizing an event on the First Amendment—and accepted a grant from NYU’s law school. She also interned at the New York Attorney General’s office, according to the paper. Her former Greenwich Village apartment “recently rented for $2,795 (U.S.),” the Globe reported.
She lived in the States, but kept up with Canadian politics
5During Canada’s 1993 election campaign, the Star reported with apparent surprise that Harvard students weren’t that interested in the intrigue and glamour of our country’s federal politics. The paper caught up with Mulroney amid a group of students who’d gathered to watch a debate. “I just came here as a spectator,” Mulroney told the paper. “Because I can’t watch it anywhere else.”
Her wedding was national news
6Mulroney married Andrew Lapham, a private equity bigshot and son of Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham, in 2000. The Globe may have overstated things when they said Mulroney and her soon-to-be husband would “become the poster couple for this glamorous generation of political progeny,” but the guest list, courtesy of the CBC, is still impressive: George H.W. Bush, Conrad Black, Joe Clark, and Queen Noor of Jordan. The CBC reported that everyone—and they really meant everyone—involved in the ceremony signed confidentiality agreements. The Globe wrote that Mulroney’s marriage to an American would represent “a living embodiment of Mr. Mulroney’s free-trade dream.”
And so were the births of her children
7The Globe reported on the 2004 birth of Lewis Lapham III, named after Andrew’s ancestor, Lewis Lapham, the Texaco co-founder. Three years later, the Globe also ran this photo of Brian Mulroney lovingly holding his newest granddaughter, Miranda Brooke Lapham.
Expect shoe metaphors on the campaign trail
8Along with her sisters-in-law, Mulroney founded an organization that delivers shoeboxes packed with toiletries, gift cards and other items to women in need. At one Shoebox Project event, the Post reported that some proceeds from footwear sales at Holt Renfrew were donated to the cause, and shoppers “were encouraged to leave their shoeboxes behind after shopping.” Generous!
— Paul Ainslie (@cllrainslie) February 24, 2013
She has experience—just not in politics
9The Canadian Press provided a partial overview of Mulroney’s resume: she was appointed to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority in 2014; she’s listed as the on-leave vice-president of BloombergSen; and she did a stint at a venture debt fund. The Globe reported in 2010 that Mulroney was a partner in a news website for kids, but it doesn’t appear to be in operation anymore. She’s listed as a 2016-2017 board member for the SickKids Foundation, and here she is on the National Theatre School website. She’s made regular appearances at various galas and events in recent years—she was reportedly among a group of Garrison Ball organizers who signed a statement in 2013 denying that they’d asked then-mayor Rob Ford to leave the event. And she hasn’t been particularly shy about her father’s alleged corruption: here she is looking on while the former Prime Minister appeared before the Oliphant commission.
But she’s been hyped as a potential politician for years
10The Sun’s Christina Blizzard suggested in 2015 that Mulroney would make an excellent leader for the federal Conservative Party. At the time, Patrick Brown said Mulroney would make “a formidable candidate.” Mulroney told Blizzard she was “flattered,” but focusing on work and her kids.