Canada’s Prime Ministers
~ from Sir John A Macdonald to Justin Trudeau
In completing the task of quoting from all our country’s Prime Ministers – from Sir John A. to our current PM Justin Trudeau – we now return to our favourite quotable PM: John George Diefenbaker. Here are 10 more musings from one of Canada’s most colourful leaders.
(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.
The Niagara Independent, March 6, 2020 — Former Timiskaming MP John MacDougall remembers the overwhelming feeling of relief on February 29, 1984, the day when PM Trudeau took his walk in the snow.
Sitting in the House of Commons chamber, the rookie MP representing an immense northern Ontario riding stretching from Lake Temagami to Moosonee, sensed Canada was teetering on a precipice – and from his vantage point, MacDougall worried that Pierre Trudeau was nonchalantly (perhaps intentionally) pushing the country over the edge. On that February 29th, he along with many Canadians were relieved to learn Trudeau was choosing to leave politics and walk away from the mess he had created.
In 1982, John MacDougall was swept to his bi-election victory on a wave of anti-Trudeau sentiment. Many Canadians had grown angry at how the Trudeau Government altered the face and character of Canada — Trudeau marshalled policies that buried the country in debt, weakened the country’s resource and business sectors, and gave rise to regional tensions and a separation movement. Today, MacDougall assesses the state of his country and, sadly, he sees a similar landscape. In 36 short years, now by a hand of a younger Trudeau, history is repeating itself.
“Pierre Trudeau was a brilliant individual; his son not so,” says MacDougall, who is animated when comparing and contrasting the father and son Trudeau – and Canada then and now. “There are two striking similarities between them that sum up their approach to governing. There is an arrogance in Justin that I saw in his father. It’s a disrespect for anyone with a contrary view. Pierre had a dislike for Parliament and he didn’t like Question Period and was often rude to MPs. He ran the country from his Prime Minister’s Office. It is fair to say Justin holds that same contempt for the House of Commons. He would rather speak with Gerald Butts and his PMO staff than consult with MPs.”
“Both also love big government – the bigger the better. They like a model of government like China where leaders dictate, where they can put in place laws and regulations and government programs that will control people from cradle to grave. Of course, big government comes at a cost. But that doesn’t matter for either of them. With Justin and (Bill) Morneau I hear echoes of Pierre’s finance minister Alan MacEachern when he laughed at us and said “What’s a deficit?” They have no regard for the taxpayer, no regard for the country’s economy. It is likely due to Trudeau’s upbringing.”
MacDougall won the ’82 bi-election and was re-elected in ’84. In 1988, he was the only PC MP from northern Ontario to be returned to Ottawa in the great Canada-US Free Trade election, overcoming the strong fears of what the new trade deal might mean for the resource-based regions of the country. MacDougall spent his time in Ottawa championing both the development of resources and the livelihood of single-industry small town Canada. Today he is troubled for northern Ontario and rural Canada.
“Pierre wanted control of the resources and he attacked the oil and gas sectors with the National Energy Program. Justin is even more damaging to the sector. This government is not listening to resource industries. It is introducing new regulations and new approval processes that will not permit industries to do their jobs. I see that Justin spoke at the Prospectors and Developers (Association of Canada) conference and said it is time for Canada’s industry to transition from a resource economy. Seriously, Canadians are to transition from these industries when countries such as China, Russia and India increase their wealth from developing resources? Like Pierre, Justin doesn’t consider the impact his policies are having on the resource sector, on rural Canada. I’d like to ask him what is going to happen to the hundreds of single-industry towns dependent on resource development across our country?”
MacDougall acknowledges politics today is a lot different from when he was in Ottawa. “In many ways the world has gotten smaller. There are more outside influences factoring into Canada’s politics. Lobbyists and special interest groups are well funded and are involved in every aspect of our government. We have seen international lobbyists impacting our country’s economy – for example, how the Rockefeller Foundation is closing down Alberta’s oil sands. It has become much harder for MPs to have a voice on issues affecting their ridings. There are too many hidden agendas being played out by people beyond our borders – including at the U.N.”
“MPs’ voices has also been silenced by today’s Party discipline. Pierre Trudeau called MPs “nobodies” and his son has the same attitude: MPs are to be seen and not heard. I was fortunate to serve under Brian Mulroney who respected his MPs’ concerns for their constituents. We had votes in the House where we could vote our conscience and vote for our constituents. Today, every vote is whipped and the Liberal backbencher must support the Government or else. If you represent a mining or oil town, you cannot speak up for your constituents’ concerns about the damage the carbon tax is doing to your community. The strict party discipline is one-step closer to dictatorship, to Trudeau’s China-styled government.”
Asked to sum up his thoughts on the Trudeaus – both Senior and Junior – MacDougall is reflective, “I have been fortunate to live and work through the years in a Canada that is a source of great pride. But today I look at the next generation, and the debt and counter-productive policies in place in Canada, and I know they will not have the same opportunities for work or quality of life. I do feel for the younger generation and I feel for those in rural Canada. I have that same, sick feeling in my stomach that I had in 1982 when I ran. We live in the greatest country, yet we are squandering Canada’s riches.”
John MacDougall’s remarks are recorded from two conversations this past week, on the anniversary of PET’s “walk in the snow” and on March 3rd.
Photo Credit: Pierre Trudeau (Chiloa/Flickr) and Justin Trudeau/Facebook
If we are to believe the mainstream media’s pundits and polls, in the next federal general election, the unpopular PM Stephen Harper will be trounced by the dashing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. The left-of-centre mainstream media and chattering classes has excitedly ordained this to be so. The only thing that might overturn this prognosis is a few hard slaps of reality to awaken the Canadian electorate.
Well, here’s a slap in the face. Here is a comment recently made by Justin Trudeau at a Liberal “Ladies Night” fundraiser in Toronto that could not have been fabricated – and believed. We have reproduced it verbatim because the comment is something that should not be forgotten. It speaks volumes for Justin Trudeau’s (lack of) political perspective and thinking process.
This is what Justin Trudeau said in response to a question about which foreign country’s government he most admires (verbatim): “You know, there’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because, ah, because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say ‘we need to go green fastest, we need to start investing in solar.’ I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having, a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted, that I find quite interesting.”
And here’s how Trudeau rephrased his response to correct himself, during a TV interview the next day (again, verbatim): “Ah, in this world we are competing with countries that have the capacity to react to big issues quickly and completely. We need to make sure that even though we have to compete with them, ah, we can get things done completely, and that means that not, that not falling back on our, ah, not weakening on our human rights, making sure that we are still protecting all of the things we know. But we do need to get together to support people.”
An Ottawa Citizen editorial on these remarks rightly observes: “A Miss Teen USA contestant wouldn’t get away with saying something like that.”
This same editorial concludes with the comment: “This is not to impugn Trudeau’s intentions, of course. A more charitable and fair-minded conclusion is called for, one that recognizes the Liberal party as a shambles, and its leader, Justin Trudeau, as a ridiculous, morally illiterate and fathomlessly unserious person.”
Again, this is an instance that should not be forgotten a few years from now when Canadians head to the polls to select their next Prime Minister.
Paul Wells book on Stephen Harper’s politics – The Longer I’m Prime Minister – is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the man and his modus operandi in office. Here are ten quotes extrapolated from Paul Wells’ book – but, to get an insightful glimpse into the Prime Minister, get the book – read it.
In Fall 2014 Chris George attended a breakfast where Paul Wells spoke – and here is the By George Journal post on that address.
A few years ago, an Ottawa public policy think tank – The Macdonald-Laurier Institute – hosted a lively debate on the resolution: Pierre Trudeau was Canada’s most disastrous Prime Minister. The Institute brought David Frum to speak to the affirmative and Lawrence Martin to speak against the resolution. Decades after his departure from Parliament Hill, the question of Pierre Trudeau’s impact on our country still is a topic of heated discussion. Here are abbreviated highlights from the opening statements of both arguments regarding P.E.T.’s record in office.
David Frum: Yes, Trudeau was a disaster.
Lawrence Martin: No, Trudeau was not a disaster.
To read the full arguments, for and against, visit the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s website, where they have reprinted the Ottawa Citizen columns containing David Frum’s and Lawrence Martin’s opening statements. Click here.
Pierre Trudeau had a clear view of government’s role in society. Some of these musings have been well quoted, some have been found in his memoirs.
Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.
So, did you know that in the US, if the president and vice president both resign or die, the Speaker of the House becomes the president? It’s always good to know who will take over. For instance, there was someone in the wings when Jimmy Carter was “attacked” by a large swamp rabbit or when George W. Bush famously choked on a pretzel while watching a football game.
In Canada, there is no official line of succession if something were to happen to the prime minister. Who would have stepped in if Jean Chretien didn’t successful defend himself with a Inuit soapstone from the intruder at 24 Sussex Drive? Who today would step in for Justin Trudeau? Perhaps Chrystia Freeland and Catherine McKenna would have had to compete in an arm wrestling tournament?
Here are ten more interesting facts about U.S. Presidents that might surprise you.
· Ronald Reagan was the oldest president inaugurated (69 years old) and Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president inaugurated (42 years old).
· Jimmy Carter is the first U.S. President to have been born in a hospital. No president of the United States was an only child for his parents.
· Eight presidents have died in office. (Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, F. Roosevelt, and Kennedy)
· John F. Kennedy was buried without his brain after it was lost during the autopsy.
· Ulysses S. Grant was once arrested for speeding in a horse and buggy and President Franklin Pierce was arrested during his term for running over an old lady with his horse (but the charges were dropped).
· Gerald Ford remains the only unelected vice president and president and Richard Nixon is the only U.S. president ever to resign.
· Theodore Roosevelt was the first to ride in a car, while Franklin Roosevelt was the first to ride in a plane.
· All of the people in Lyndon Johnson’s family had the initials LBJ, including his dogs – and did you know that the S. in Harry S. Truman’s name does not stand for anything?
· The White House officially got its name in 1901 and prior to that it had been called the President’s Palace, President’s House, and the Executive Mansion (BTW – John Adams was the first to live in the White House).
· Then there are the traditions surrounding the Office: George Washington preferred the less formal address of “Mr. President”, which is still used today. Sarah Polk, wife of James Polk, selected “Hail to the Chief” to be played whenever a president enters a room. Every president has recited the same words when taking the Oath of Office.
Here are 10 interesting facts about our Canadian Prime Ministers.
· Charles Tupper was the oldest prime minister (74 years old) and Joe Clark was the youngest prime minister (39 years old).
· William Lyon Mackenzie King is the longest serving prime minister in Canadian history and in the history of the Commonwealth.
· Most of Canada’s prime ministers have been lawyers, Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper being the most recent exceptions.
· Quebec is the province where the largest number of Canada’s prime ministers have come from (8 of 23). Yet, only nine prime ministers have been bilingual (If you are counting, you should know that Diefenbaker is not counted as being bilingual).
· Louis St. Laurent was the first prime minister to be heavily covered on television.
· Brian Mulroney won the largest electoral majority of any Canadian prime minister in the landslide of 1984.
· Sir John Abbott was the first Canadian-born prime minister.
· R.B Bennett is the only prime minister not to be buried in Canada.
· The mansion at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa would stand for 80 years before becoming the official residence of the Prime Minister (yet, when it was built in 1868, one of its first visitors was Sir John A. Macdonald). Louis St. Laurent became the first PM to occupy the house, in 1951. Since then, every PM, except Kim Campbell, has lived in the house (Campbell lived at Harrington Lake for the summer of 1993 while the Mulroney packed – and by the time the keys were ready to be handed over, PM Campbell had lost her job).
· Lester B Pearson gave Canada its maple leaf flag (in time for the Country’s Centennial) and Pierre Trudeau gave the country its national anthem.