LIFE ON THE HILL

LIFE ON THE HILL

BARRY CAME December 4 1995
LIFE ON THE HILL

LIFE ON THE HILL

BARRY CAME December 4 1995

LIFE ON THE HILL

COVER

On many an evening, Brian Mulroney can be glimpsed in the park that everyone in Westmount but the city’s officials calls Murray Hill. It is a broad expanse of old trees and gravelled pathways, right around the corner from the former prime minister’s handsome stone house on Forden Crescent. For dog lovers in Montreal’s moneyed enclave, the park’s main attraction is a fenced run, where canines of all shapes,

sizes and colors romp freely. And Mulroney has become a familiar figure at the dog run, casting a watchful eye over a large black poodle called Clover and— only if it is dark—a small white poodle with a bright ribbon in place of a collar. “He won’t walk the little one in the daylight,” confides a Murray Hill acquaintance, “largely because Mila insists on tying that damn ribbon around the poor creature’s neck.”

In some ways, life has become a lot simpler for Mulroney since he stepped down as prime minister two years ago. Or at least it was until the rumor of scandal shifted him back into the spotlight. When his punishing travel schedule permitted, he could be seen on occasion at all of the usual haunts frequented by his Westmount neighbors: breakfasting at Nick’s on Greene Avenue, catching a quick lunch in the wood-panelled rooms at the University Club downtown, or dining nearby at the chic Ritz-Carlton Hotel. He has even rediscovered the pleasure of playing hockey with his three sons. “I real-

ly thought I would miss it all when I retired from politics,” he told La Presse last year. “But it hasn’t turned out that way at all.” Affluence has certainly eased the transition. Soon after his resignation, Mulroney accepted an appointment as senior partner with his old Montrealbased law firm, Ogilvy Renault. He purchased a $1.6-million home in the heart of Westmount. Multibillionaire Charles Bronfman is a neighbor and, by most

accounts, a friend. But it was his relationship with Peter Munk, chairman and chief executive officer of Horsham Corp., that allowed him to flourish. Horsham is an investment house that controls the giant mining concern, Barrick Gold Corp. as well as Trizec Corp., the Canadian-based real estate firm. Mulroney sits on the board of directors of both Horsham and Barrick, as well as serving as chairman of Barrick’s international advisory board. Munk has credited Mulroney for personally engineering a recent deal between Barrick and Montreal-based Power Corp. to develop gold mines in China. “He was the

key, not a key,” said Munk.

“He opened the door. He, in person, took our proposals to the right people.”

Other lucrative director-

ships soon followed, including seats on the boards of

Petrofina SA, the Gannett

Foundation’s Freedom Forum and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the U.S. food-processing conglomerate now under criminal investigation by the U.S. government for price-fixing. Mulroney heads a blue-ribbon panel of executives hired by Archer-Daniels to deal with Washington over the investigation. He also sits on international advisory boards for Power Corp., the Chemical Bank of New York City, Bombardier, the International Herald Tribune and the China International Trust and Investment Corp.

Despite his widespread business connections, some people speculate that the Mulroneys are not particularly happy in Montreal, largely because they have not been welcomed there socially. There have even been reports, vigorously denied by Mulroney’s office, that he has been considering a move to New York. If that is true, then the folks who gather nightly at the dog run on Murray Hill may soon be missing a regular.

BARRY CAME