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Canada's prime ministers: A day of honor

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  Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

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Have your say - responses, Part 3

Here is what some globeandmail.com visitors had to say about who their favorite prime minister is and why. You can find links to other responses at the bottom.

Part 1Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4Part 5Part 6

To add your opinion, go to our submissions page.


Although we agree that Sir John should be the first Prime Minister to be honored, it really is a three-way tie between MacDonald, Laurier and Trudeau. Macdonald for fathering the country, Laurier thru Clifford Sifton for bringing immigration to the west and thus in a sense, fathering the west, and Trudeau who for good or bad at least when the FLQ was certain that he would back Quebec, learned that he would back Canada instead. For all the "wrongs" of Trudeau, for all his so-called arrogance and whatever might be said against, when Canada was in the lurch...he called in the troops. Was it "over-kill"...political expediency, we will never know the truth. The "wisemen" are now dead, so we will never know the real truth. The fact for whatever reason that Trudeau called in the troops and proclaimed the War Measures Act must be seen as a form of being a father to a nation in the same way as Macdonald, and Laurier were.
G. Young
Lakefield, ON

I think it would be a splendid idea to have Prime Minister's Day in Canada. Here in Nova Scotia we have produced three Canadian Prime Ministers. If you were to ask the average person their names I doubt many could answer. It would probably shock most Halifax residents to know that two of those PMs are buried in their city. Recently I have been doing a lot of research on Prime Minister John Thompson, possibly the most honest of all of our former leaders. He enacted the first criminal code of Canada and was a strong supporter of women's rights. He was someone that we, even today could strive to be more like. Prime Minister's Day, bring it on!
Robert Walsh

A Prime Minister's day? A day honouring dreck such as J. Chretien and B. Mulroney? Or wannabees such as J. Turner, J. Clark, and K. Campbell? I think not! A new midwinter holiday yes, but let's not sully it by linking it to a whole lot of truly depressing memories of past political "leadership".
Ed Boldt

I disagree with John Turner's historical perspective of Sir John A. MacDonald. Official Bilingualism and the Official Languages Act as we know it today, caters to a province whose citizens continually elect provincial governments whose main objectives are to become a sovereign nation and eradicate the English language. As a direct result of bilingualism we have elected Francophone Prime Ministers from Quebec 9 of the last 10 federal elections for a total of 32 of the last 33 years. We've only had one Prime Minister in the last 60 years who was not from Quebec or eastern Ontario. If Sir John A. was alive today he wouldn't recognize this country he helped create.
Gary Robichaud
Oromocto, NB

Just a correction to an otherwise good article on Macdonald. Mr. Turner stated that five provinces were united by Confederation in 1867 -actually it was four: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec (the last two were actually created by the separation of the United Province of Canada). As for the others: Manitoba joined in 1870; British Columbia in 1871; Prince Edward Island in 1873; Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905; Newfoundland in 1949.
Karl Van Hees

I think the idea is great, the timing of the holiday is even better (I've long thought the winter should be broken up by a stat holiday ) and if it helps this country get out of it's state of near complete ignorance of it's history it's a no lose proposition.
Jim Wilson
Victoria Harbour

A public holiday would become a shopping day with no pupils in schools. The history of government and important leaders ought to taught in every grade.
Ted Fletcher.

The array of statutory holidays needs to be overhauled to be more relevant to Canadians, to both celebrate and reinforce our history. We should recognize both key individuals and events of national and global importance. As a lapsed Christian of British descent, I see no value in the narrowly defined British and Christian statutory holidays we currently celebrate. Let us keep Canada Day, Labour and Remembrance Day, and create new holidays of meaning to our entire Canadian population.
Marilyn Meyer

In regards to the choosing of a former prime minister to be remembered on the proposed February holiday May I suggest that Sir John A. McDonald would be the most appropriate choice. After all he was the one who by Confederation made Canada into a country of its own. He knew that if this did not happen we would be in danger of being swallowed up by U.S. interests. That is what is the greatest danger now as more of our business are being bought out by American companies and large U.S. firms have now established their outlets in Canada but are still under U.S. control. (ie. Wal-Mart). The ford plant in Oakville is being shut down at the cost of thousands of Canadian Jobs. The U.S. policy is now 'you buy from us but we don't want your softwood etc.' That is what Sir John A. McDonald wanted to prevent. We must remember him as the father of our country or we throw away our history.
John B Murison

I think it is fantastic to have a special day to honor not one but all of our former Prime Ministers. Canada is a great nation and there is no better way to show the world that we are here than to publicly honour the builders of our nation. I suggest that the date of this holiday be at a particular time and date so as to make it outstanding and a truly memorable day rather than just another long weekend away from the office. February I think would be a perfect month.
Mark E. Reitzel

I think a holiday to honour our former prime ministers is a great idea and I think the majority of the country agree , small business however will never agree, due to the cost of having to pay for a stat holiday . Also should we honour one prime minister at a time or all at once? What about prime ministers when we were still under British rule? We should honour them all completely wwhether Francophone or English and give some pride back to the country.
Darren

I do not believe Trudeau nor his disciple Chretien deserve any honour. All others just make it and no more.
F.R. Saunders

It's sad how woefully uninformed many of us are about our own Canadian History. We keep it so low key, that many of us as students found it bland and boring. It's time for an education campaign for students, parents and grandparents. We need to better understand our rich, diverse history and to appreciate the contributions of those who have gone before us. In time, this will lead to greater appreciation of today's diversity and today's struggles.
Shelley

Your list of books about our prime ministers may explain why Canadians know so little about our political history and provides support for the idea of a Prime Ministers Day. In my opinion, only Donald Creighton's book on Sir John A. Macdonald meets a standard of historical scholarship while at the same time being very accessible to a layperson and a very enjoyable read. He won the Governor General's Award in 1952 and 1955 for his effort. There are many biographies about prime ministers including Alexander Mackenzie, John Thompson, Charles Tupper, Wilfrid Laurier, Robert Borden, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Jean Chretien to name a few. John English's Life of Lester Pearson is an excellent book and like Creighton's work, it is written with the eye of an academic but open and engaging to an interested Canadian. Perhaps you could expand your list to inform your readers. Such a list may serve to stimulate more to learn and to write about our great leaders and to endorse the idea of Prime Minister Day.
Raymond C. Tervo

I think it is entirely appropriate to honour our country's heroes, but are Prime Ministers necessarily those we hold up as our inspiration? We refer to all our MPs as "honourable" more as a reminder and a challenge to them, not because they have earned it. Why don't we have a "Canadian Heroes" day instead? We could show our gratitude to people like Terry Fox, Frederick Banting and Billy Bishop. We should honour those people Canadians are most proud of - and there are few Prime Ministers who fit that lofty requirement.
Steve LaRocque

Lester Pearson brought us the flag
Emery Robichaud

In my opinion, Sir John was the greatest PM in the history of this great land some may disagree with me, he is the Canadian George Washington or do I say George Washington was Sir John A. of Canada. for what he has done this great land the least we can do for Sir John is to honour a holiday for his name and that is the honorable thing to do. Let's put our political beliefs aside and honour a great Canadian.
R. Ibrahim

To have a national holiday on January 11 is a great idea. This is not only the birthday of our first PM but also of our current and although many may joke at the comparison, history may tell a different story. However, do we need another holiday? Although John Turner mentions various British PMs I do not think there are any national holidays on their birthdays. Also I do not think the U.S. has one on Feb 22. The service all PMs have given this country by taking on this position deserves recognition. Perhaps January 11 could be given special recognition in schools, mandatory across the country, just as Remembrance Day still is. Special importance could be shown to Sir John A. as the man who brought the British Colonies together.
Janette Johnston

I agree with so many others that we should honour Sir John A. MacDonald, truly a "Heritage Day", being he was our first leader. It's about time we recognize a great man whom had done so much for his country Canada. Keeping in mind that Sir John A. MacDonald was in public service for 47 years. He did great in those early years. One thing that stays in my mind always is when Macdonald's famous quote was; "Let us be English, or Let us be French... and above all Let us be Canadians." I agree with former PM John Turner, that Sir John A. MacDonald deserves the recognition since he built this nation and was its greatest Prime minister.
Vincent J. MacDonald
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