Happy Birthday Sir John A. Macdonald

Happy birthday to the Father of Confederation, our country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Take a look at the By George Journal archive of posts on this storied man.

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 Favourite Quotes of Sir John A. Macdonald

January 11th (Thursday) marks the birth date of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister and a Father of Confederation. Here are 10 of By George’s favourite quotes.

  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling.
  • There were, unfortunately, no great principles on which parties were divided – politics became a mere struggle for office.
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • There may be obstructions, local differences may intervene, but it matters not — the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel, we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact.
  • I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the sake of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country.
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’
  • If you would know the depth of meanness of human nature, you have got to be a Prime Minister running a general election.
  •  [Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his love of drink. 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.]  The opposing candidate 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.”
  • 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.
  • 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.’

On Thursday, let’s all celebrate our country’s first Prime Minister’s birthday! Cheers to John A. Macdonald!

(Photo Credit:  National Archive)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Great Quotes of Sir John A. Macdonald

  • . . . one people, great in territory, great in resources, great in enterprise, great in credit, great in capital. [a 1860 speech summed up his lifelong political creed and political goals] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • 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 one—let no fractious men be allowed to put them asunder. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Let us be English or let us be French . . . and above all let us be Canadians. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Everyone admits that Union must take place sometime. I say now is the time. [At the Charlottetown Conference 1864] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There may be obstructions, local differences may intervene, but it matters not — the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel, we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The statement that has been made so often that this is a conquered country is a propos de rien. Whether it was conquered or ceded, we have a constitution now under which all British subjects are in a position of absolute equality, having equal rights of every kind – of language, of religion, of property and of person. There is no paramount race in this country; we are all British subjects, and those who are not English are none the less British subjects on that account. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • 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. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A public man should have no resentments. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • 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] – Sir John A Macdonald

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Canada’s Prime Ministers on Politics

Sir John A. Macdonald is Canada’s first Prime Minister

and a grand and colourful character whose accomplishments

helped forged a nation from sea to sea.

 

Over the course of the next two months, we will focus on providing quotes from our country’s Prime Ministers.

We begin with the quotes and quips of perhaps our greatest leader, Sir John A.:

  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness.
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • An election is like a horse-race, in that you can tell more about it the next day. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There were, unfortunately, no great principles on which parties were divided – politics became a mere struggle for office. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • If you would know the depth of meanness of human nature, you have got to be a Prime Minister running a general election. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Give me better wood and I will make you a better cabinet. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The time has come, I think, when we must choose men for their qualifications rather than for their locality. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • We are all mere petty provincial politicians at present; perhaps by and by some of us will rise to the level of national statesmen. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The Government are merely trustees for the public. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • 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. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Even if all the territory Mr. Mowat asks for were awarded to Ontario, there is not one stick of timber, one acre of land, or one lump of lead, iron or gold that does not belong to the Dominion, or to the people who purchased from the Dominion Government. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Had I but consented to take the popular side in Upper Canada, I could have ridden the Protestant horse much better than George Brown, and could have had an overwhelming majority. But I willingly sacrificed my own popularity for the good of the country, and did equal justice to all men. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • He shall hang though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour. [referring to Louis Riel] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • I have no accord with the desire expressed in some quarters that by any mode whatever there should be an attempt made to oppress the one language or to render it inferior to the other – I believe that would be impossible if it were tried, and it would be foolish and wicked if it were possible. – Sir John A. Macdonald
  • I would be quite willing, personally, to leave that whole country a wilderness for the next half-century but I fear if Englishmen do not go there, Yankees will. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • But if it should happen that we should be absorbed in the United States, the name of Canada would be literally forgotten; we should have the State of Ontario, the State of Quebec, the State of Nova Scotia and State of New Brunswick. Every one of the provinces would be a state, but where is the grand, the glorious name of Canada? All I can say is that not with me, or not by the action of my friends, or not by the action of the people of Canada, will such a disaster come upon us. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • If Canada is to remain a country separate from the United States it is of great importance to her that they (the United States) should not get behind us by right or by force, and intercept the route to the Pacific. But in any other point of view, it seems to me that the country is of no present value to Canada. We have unoccupied land enough to absorb immigration for many years, and the opening up of the Saskatchewan would do to Canada what the Prairie lands of Illinois are doing now – drain away our youth and our strength. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The word ‘protection’ itself must be taboo, but we can ring the changes on National Policy, paying the U.S. in their own coin. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There is no maxim which experience teaches more clearly than this, that you must yield to the times. Resistance may be protracted until it produces revolution. Resistance was protracted in this country until it produced rebellion. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’ – Sir John A Macdonald
  • I am afraid I shall have to give you the answer of the Irish servant who got into a place where the food was not as it should be – ‘there’s too much to swallow and too little to eat’. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A compliment is the statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is the statement of an agreeable untruth. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Never write a letter if you can help it, and never destroy one. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A sweet smile from the teeth outwards. [referring to John Abbott] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • When a man has done me an evil turn once, I don’t like to give him the opportunity to do so twice. – Sir John A Macdonald
  •  [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.” – Sir John A Macdonald

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Celebrating Sir John A.

Upon Sir John A. Macdonald’s death, (the soon-to-be Prime Minister) Wilfred Laurier paid tribute to him in the House of Commons (June 8, 1891):

“The place of Sir John A. Macdonald in this country was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the politics of this country – the fate of this country – will continue without him. His loss overwhelms us. For my part, I say, with all truth, his loss overwhelms me, and that it also overwhelms this Parliament, as if indeed one of the institutions of the land had given way. Sir John A. Macdonald now belongs to the ages, and it can be said with certainty that the career which has just been closed is one of the most remarkable careers of this century. . .

“As to his statesmanship, it is written in the history of Canada. It may be said without any exaggeration whatever, that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the time he entered Parliament, is the history of Canada.”

And, so that you may discuss this great man at your next social, here are some interesting trivia most may not know about Sir John A.

  • While there is some debate over his actual birthdate, January 10 is the official date recorded and January 11 is the day Macdonald celebrated it.
  • Having personally written the largest part of the Canadian constitution ( BNA act ), and having been the main lobbyist for its adoption at London, Macdonald can truly be called “THE Father of his country.”
  • According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Macdonald’s nicknames included Old Chieftain and Old Tomorrow – the latter for his habit of putting off any large political problems until conditions were personally favourable to him.
  • Sir John A.Macdonald is one of two Canadian prime-ministers to die in office (The other is John Thompson).
  • Macdonald’s nephew Newton Ford was the father of iconic Canadian-American actor Glenn Ford