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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, Jan. 17

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.

To add your opinion, go to our submissions page.


The obvious answer to me is none other than the great Wilfrid Laurier. In his fifteen-year reign as Prime Minister (1896-1911) he brought an unsurpassed period of growth, which was never again seen until the latter part of the last century. His work led to the expansion of the nation westward, adding the resourceful provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan to confederation. In addition to his accomplishments, Laurier was the first Prime Minister in an elite of four gentlemen (Laurier, St. Laurent, Trudeau, and Chretien) who both upheld, and philosophized the liberal fundamental freedoms this nation was founded upon.
Robert Whyte

I am opposed to a Prime Ministers' Day but would support a John A. Macdonald day. But please not on Jan 11. It's too close to New Years and just when business gets going again. He can be honoured on some other eventful day in his life that would better fit the "holiday calendar".
Vince Devries

Sir Jon A MacDonald should be recognized for his contribution to this country, since he is the one that created it. The very first thing that should be done is to move his remains to a separate gravesite befitting a Canadian of his stature. It is a national disgrace that his grave is part of another family plot with a small non-descript headstone for a marker. Perhaps this question could be added to your quiz : Where is the site of Sir John A MacDonald's grave?
V.A. Foster

I would like to reply to your poll. I don't think it's very accurate. There are no doubt thousands of people out there that would like another public holiday. They would vote yes for any reason. So your survey is skewed by only offering a yes or no response. I would vote for another public holiday but not for the Prime Ministers.
W. Strasser

I think we need a holiday in the middle of February. It's often three months from New Year's Day to Easter. Picking the time is more important than the reason. We already have Canada Day to celebrate the nation, but why do we still "celebrate" Queen Victoria's birthday? I agree in principle with another holiday, or a replacement, to honour Canada's history. But I think the Canadian way would be to pass on a Prime Minister's birthday and find something else. How about a day that includes the First Nations somehow. After all, they were here first, and we stole the land from them. Not something to celebrate, I don't think. Even more reason to build a more positive future together. Dig deeper, folks, but don't give up. Great idea, but needs work.
Wayne Wynn, Burnaby, BC

I'm tired of these propagandist attempts to create a nation out of nothing. Canada is a fiction of the mind held together by a stifling administrative structure and the force of inertia. It offers nothing to celebrate, especially not the dictatorial carpetbaggers it elects as PMs every 10 years.
Alexandre Papineau

It's about time some started to take steps to give the working class a little more time off. It would probably be a better idea to have this additional long weekend in February because it is a long span from December to April, most people already have enough time off at Christmas and a break around February would be nice it would get everyone through to Easter and just like our American cousins the Canadian citizen should show a little more patriotism and honor their forefathers who created this wonderful country.
Tom Skrypetz

At a time when all businesses in Canada are having problems meeting the expectations of investors, boards of directors and owners relative to profits or in some cases staying in business another paid day off with no returns for their wages is too much of a burden for the corporations. Relative to the current vote results on this matter, I suggest that if the vote from employees looking for another paid day off as opposed to the remembrance of a Prime Minister, the vote would be negative as opposed to positive.
Al. Ward

My favourite Canadian Prime Minister is Pierre Trudeau. He was a man of vision who put Canada on the international map.
Susan Murray

My comment is a question. What does a public holiday cost? I live in a province where legitimate taxpayers are becoming a minority. I like the idea of honouring past prime ministers. Lets remind everyone that there is no free lunch and honour prime ministers with a special day that is not an extra holiday.
Tom Mathieson

I think the idea of a special holiday for dead Canadian Prime Ministers is a great and probably way past due. When I was an Ottawa City tour guide 20 years ago, I learned about the amazing legacy left by former prime ministers and experienced that illusive sense of being proud to be Canadian. That pride is still with me. I hope that this special day does not become a forgotten day like all the others, but will really be a day when Canadians learn something new and take the opportunity to boost that national pride. I think that the media will play a critical role in providing events, information, programs that help us go back to our roots. Without this effort, this exercise will be futile.
Peter Aubin

I don't think there should be a Prime Minister's day. We have had too many bad Prime Ministers. Perhaps a day to honour one of the good ones, like Pearson. Do we really want to honour Clark and Turner who were only the Prime Minister for a couple of bad news days? I certainly wouldn't want to honour Chretien who would of course want the day to honour current and living Prime Ministers as well.
Jonathan Usher

Another political bunch of baloney. So who is the Dominion Institute? Give me a break. The Globe and Mail instead of being independent is just another spokesperson for the Liberals.
D. Baxendale

It would be a nice idea. Somewhat like our American friends with President's day. If the actual date isn't important because of the number of Past Prime Ministers, could it be coordinated to be the same day as President's day? This would be good for planning visits with our U.S. friends, doing business with American firms, stock market activities etc.
Walter J. Dixon, CFP

I would be a very proud Canadian to honour Sir John A. Macdonald. And I would love to stand up as a Canadian and be heard. We are Canadian. (And by the way I visited Disney World this year and visited their Pavillion honouring all of their Presidents My children new most of them which is another reason we should acknowledge our own Prime Ministers more - also the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot Centre needs to be redone. The movie was okay but when did Cheddar Cheese Soup become one of our favourite foods? I don't think so. Back bacon on a bun is much more Canadian.)
C.A.J.

What a dumb idea! These are just people, employees of Canada and not all noble people at that. My plumber doesn't get a holiday named after him and in some cases has done far more his community than our politicians. Please stop creating heroes where there are none. Most premiers were very odd people, paid for their services and I don't feel are worth much more than that. There are a few who's efforts I do greatly appreciate, but there are so many deserving Canadian citizens that have contributed as much or more but whom do not have the title of Prime Minister to warrant this attention. Very Dumb Idea!
S. Lawson

John A Macdonald is by far the most important and probably the greatest Prime Minister we ever had. He built a country. Today, we can barely maintain it. He was a visionary. Truely the architect of Canada. I think he should be honoured with a holiday, and schools should do more to teach students of all ages something about this great man. The timing of the holiday is bad however - with Christmas holidays. The holiday should make a long weekend in the summer. While we haven't had much to cheer about lately, we don't do nearly enough to promote the great leaders of this country. Macdonald, General Brock, Sir Allen McNab, etc.
Brian Laufman

A day to celebrate one person does not seem to be the best idea in the world. These people had all sorts of help, advisers, connections, and money to get where their ambitions took them. But what about everyday people that this country has brought into it to make it what it is today? Over 20 years ago the Kinsmen Clubs tried to get a statutory holiday in February. They wanted to call it Heritage Day, but it got little support. (There has been a day by this same name, but I do not know the details whereby it was set up) The Heritage Day the Kinsmen Clubs wanted was a day when our heritage, whatever background we came from, could be celebrated. This makes more sense to me.
Don Cox

This site appears to unreservedly support the creation of another statutory holiday with no consideration to the negative consequences on national productivity. Declaration of an additional paid holiday will result in less output from both public sector and private sector workers and/or increases in costs. I would consider substituting a Prime Ministers Day for Queen Victoria day, but not adding another day and creating additional employment tax by another name.
G. Strebel

Pierre Elliott Trudeau wins hands down. He hinted at a new world order which is widely but vaguely understood. How else can you explain the outpouring of love for the man at his death. Thanks for letting me have my say.
George Visser, Sarnia, Ont.

Wilfrid Laurier is my favourite Canadian Prime Minister. I believe that he understood Canada better than any Prime Minister since. He mediated French-English rivalries, oversaw the opening of western Canada, and understood the peculiar position of Canada as growing from the traditions Britain but molded by the dynamism of the United States. He foresaw the importance and implications of free trade with the United States. St. Laurent and Trudeau are his closest disciples.
Raymond Tervo

When the politicians agree to pay the self-employed entrepreneurs of Canada the same rate of pay that government employed yuppies get over the holiday ( i.e. triple time for working on that day ! ), then they can have their self gratifying paid holiday. The money must come from the politician's salaries. It cannot be paid to "self-employed contractors" whose primary source of work is from government contracts. The day that I will "honour" a group of people who can "vote" themselves an enormous pay raise at my expense will never come.
Bernard Johnson

I've just read all of the responses from the past few days, which only prove, there's no consensus. A holiday Jan 11 would only serve to disturb the return to work and school after the long Christmas season. I'm not sure one day in the year would improve our knowledge of our history - I'd rather see it absorbed constantly like osmosis. I was and am a great Trudeau fan. This is the type of information and education we need as well frequent runs at the grand picture. I grew up in Winnipeg and we enjoyed substantial Canadian history classes in elementary school - it stays with you forever.
J. Korpan

I think because we as a nation don't actually vote for the PM, but rather vote for his party through the representative in our respective ridings, we don't have the same view of the PM as a hero. Perhaps during Sir John A.'s day there was more party solidarity and a public that accepted that. Today, we tend to spend more time bashing the PM and the party that follows his lead. Also, I'm not sure we would really commemorate a prime minister. It would, for many, simply be another day off (like Family Day here in Alberta) to sleep in and hang out at the mall.
D. Harris

I would say either Lester B. Pearson or Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Pearson brought great distinction to Canada with his diplomacy and winning the Nobel Peace Prize plus giving us our wonderful flag. Trudeau brought worldwide attention to Canada with his courage to stand for what he believed, his stand at the time of the FLQ crisis and the patriation of the charter. Whatever the choice, it is high time we honoured our past Prime Ministers and exhibited some pride and knowledge of our history. Thanks for the opportunity to express my opinion.
Betty Brigham

Absolutely no! There is no need for another public holiday. Canada Day suffices as the main national holiday. Anyone who desires to honour any of our former prime ministers can do so on Canada Day.
Karsten Holmsen

I think all of Our Prime ministers need to have a day. A Day of Remembrance in Feb . This could be a day to get to know all prime ministers of yesterday. Young Canadians can learn about all of them so we can say 'who was Clark'and they would know. That is my opinion..
N. Eric Engman

Lester Pearson. He is the best, sensible guy we have had -- Our current PM is the worst since Canada was formed.
Norm Harley

Let's get serious here! Canadians need a winter rest day in the month of February but let's call it something important like Environmental Day or Canada's Future day, not Prime Ministers' Day! Snow day if we must.
J. Rankin

Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He was his own man, he had charisma, intellect, courage, a twinkle in his eye and was a Prima Dona but I liked that. He had a vision for Canada something lacking in the current regime. He stood up against the U.S. - which was not popular thing to do - but even to this day he is one of the few Prime Ministers the Americans can name. He was also respected internationally. Also, could the new holiday be established in mid-February to help breakup the period between New Years and Easter?
Glenn Pushman

Pierre Trudeau, because he brought intelligence and passion to the post. He was a Prime Minister that we could be proud of, which was confirmed by tributes from all over the world at the time of his death.
Susan Anderson

Do we have to follow the Americans in every way? There is only a handful of Prime ministers that are worthy.
Stephen Bertalan

It's a tie between Pearson and Trudeau. Pearson due to his strong (and crafty) stand against nuclear weapons in Canada. Trudeau for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and who can argue with..."Just watch me." I believe he was the type of charismatic leader that this country needs currently. The current "friendly dictatorship" is getting a little tired when our money is rapidly turning into lira.
Greg Soucie

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