Quotable quotes of Sir John A.

Here are but a few more memorable quotes to celebrate this great man’s life and accomplishments of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

  • If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.’ God and nature made the two Canadas oneā€”let no fractious men be allowed to put them asunder.
  • [An 1860 speech summed up his lifelong political creed and political goals] “. . . one people, great in territory, great in resources, great in enterprise, great in credit, great in capital.”
  • Let us be English or let us be French . . . and above all let us be Canadians.
  • Everyone admits that Union must take place sometime. I say now is the time. [At the Charlottetown Conference 1864]
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • My sins of omission and commission I do not deny; but I trust that it may be said of me in the ultimate issue, ‘Much is forgiven because he loved much,’ for I have loved my country with a passionate love.
  • As for myself, my course is clear. A British subject I was born, a British subject I will die. With my utmost effort, with my latest breath, will I oppose the veiled treason which attempts by sordid means and mercenary proffers to lure our people from their allegiance. [on Canadian-American trade]
  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness.
  • The Government are merely trustees for the public.
  • I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the safe of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country.
  • When a man has done me an evil turn once, I don’t like to give him the opportunity to do so twice.
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’
  • An election is like a horse-race, in that you can tell more about it the next day.
  • A compliment is the statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is the statement of an agreeable untruth.
  • [Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. Here is a story from an election debate in which Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting while on stage.] His opponent quickly pointed this out and said: “Is this the man you want running your country? A drunk!” Collecting himself, Macdonald replied “I get sick … not because of drink [but because] I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honourable opponent.”

And a very happy birthday Sir John A.!

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