As a shipping magnate and finance minister, Paul Martin was admired for his financial acumen - but it is due to a financial scandal that the Canadian prime minister has now hit the rocks.
Paul Martin has now been toppled from his perch
Opposition parties have toppled Mr Martin's government after claims that his Liberal Party received kickbacks for rewarding advertising contracts.
His predicament is a far cry from the comfortable majority in parliament he inherited from predecessor Jean Chretien in December 2003.
Over his short premiership, support for the Liberals has slumped.
But Mr Martin's voyage to the top was apparently smooth and inexorable.
He was born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1938, the son of a distinguished parliamentarian and long-serving cabinet member, Paul Martin Sr.
He studied philosophy and history at university, and then law, and became a lawyer.
He moved into business, becoming an executive at the Power Corporation of Canada, chairman and chief executive of Canada Steamship Lines, and a millionaire.
He went into politics as a Liberal, becoming Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Emard in Montreal, Quebec.
In 1993 he helped plot Mr Chretien's landslide election victory and was appointed minister of finance.
A fiscal conservative, he was widely praised for bringing Canada's budgets and debt under control.
He hit stormy water in June 2002, when he was sacked for launching a leadership campaign against the prime minister - with whom he had a long-standing rivalry.
But he was not to be blown off course, and after Mr Chretien stepped down 18 months later, Mr Martin won 94% of his party's leadership vote, ascending to the premiership.
He was returned to the leadership at a general election in June 2004, though his majority had become a minority.
His agenda included legalising gay marriage and establishing a national child-care programme but the crisis sparked by the corruption scandal came before he achieved either.
Mr Martin married Sheila Ann Cowan in 1965. They have three sons.