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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. 31

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.


I do not think Canadians like to honour politicians and that we should stay away from honouring persons. I totally support a holiday in February, however, the best idea is Flag Day. That is the day our new flag was adopted in the 1960s. That day is February 15th. This would tie in nicely to "the day after Valentine's Day" too!
C. Kask

I vote yes. We could use a break in February and it sure wouldn't hurt to reinforce some Canadian history. A lot of people don't know all our previous Prime Ministers and what they accomplished. My favourite is Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He was a very dynamic, outspoken Prime Minister who valued people's opinions and wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in. Against a lot of opposition, he promoted a united Canada. We are still struggling with this today, but I hope that unity wins out.
Linda

I think whatever date Jean Chretien decides to leave as Prime Minister should be forever remembered by a national holiday.
Doug MacDonald

I support a holiday in February, but not to honour Prime Ministers.
Forrest Taylor

Who the hell wouldn't want a day off in February? In this day and age, anything to promote ourselves should be considered. Schools could have PM day projects, stores could sell decorations and little light strings with plastic PM faces over the lights. And some of us might even take a few minutes to think about our past; Our contributions to the world, and some of the great men that have changed it. As for a favourite: Pierre E. Trudeau. But the day should be for all the past PM's.
John Demers
Belleville, Ont.

Pierre Trudeau...because he had the most impact of any prime minister on the direction this country takes than any of the others. Plus he was in office during my lifetime. Of course, as a Canadian I don't really care who they decide to honour, as it doesn't really matter who I raise a bottle of beer to. And we all know that's the "case" for all Canadians!
Rohan Hoefman

I grew up with Trudeau at the helm and I have to say it was definitely the most colourful, and the most unpredictable. But, I'd vote for Sir John A. as he was our first PM and I'm stunned at the number of school kids who don't know this simple fact. Maybe Prime Ministers" Day would get teachers/students focusing on what he and other PMs did for Canada in preparation for the national holiday.
J. Fox

I believe that the holiday should be in honor of all the Canadian Prime Ministers dead or alive. They all have made a difference in our country, good or bad.
Jeannette Carey

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was my favourite Prime Minister. I agree that we should have a Canadian Prime Minister's day, and it should be in honour of PM Trudeau, as he did a lot for our country.
Francine Côté-Renaud

Lester Pearson, because he saved the world.
Geoffrey McNeill

I think if we are to have a holiday for dead Prime Ministers, You should make November 11 a holiday like Christmas. This is why we can have the life that we lead today. I think this is just as or more important on making a new holiday.
Shawn Long

I think it is ridiculous that they want to have another stat holiday. Many wouldn't use it to honour a prime minister. They think of it as another day off of work. As an employer it is hard enough to make it in the times of today. Why keep adding to it? It costs thousands of dollars for small businesses to pay stat holidays each year. I definitely vote no. Please think about your reason when you do your vote.
Tanya

My favourite prime minister is Pierre Trudeau because he was unique, interesting, intelligent, and unexpected - not your average prime minister, or standard-order Canadian, either. I admired his independence, passion, and vision. Admittedly, there are many former prime ministers about whom I know very little so comparisons are not possible. I believe this Prime Ministers' Day is a fine idea. After the inaugural event, which seems to be an obvious opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of John A. Macdonald, it would be logical to celebrate each prime minister in turn, until we have come forward to a time when we run out of dead prime ministers, which could be awkward. Would we celebrate Pierre Trudeau twice and refuse to celebrate Joe Clark until he died? This could get macabre. After the inaugural event, I would like to see a celebration of former prime ministers, collectively - no death certificate required.
Pamela McLeod

I think the poll is rather questionable. Very few would say no to a national statutory day off. While I feel many of our prime ministers have made a real contribution to nation building for many this is questionable. Many non-PMs have made enormous contributions to the nation. I feel there is some danger that such a commemoration may be seen as a ploy to improve the press on our politicians which is recently negative. I would much prefer this day to commemorate our national heritage in broad terms, independently from politics. We have much to celebrate and commemorate on such a day. Strong public participation in Remembrance day ceremonies indicates a need for this form of commemoration.
Andrew Powter

My favourite Prime Minister would be Jean Chretien.
Debbie

Borden is my favourite and I think we should have a holiday for him in February.
S. Dyke

I think a holiday in any month should be to celebrate all the people of Canada. A celebration of the people who make our country what it is today would include all Prime Ministers, past and present. By celebrating the people of Canada, you would be paying tribute to all Canadians who have made our country so great. Changing February 15 (Flag Day) to Heritage Day would honour everyone
Richard

Canadian Heritage Day has been celebrated in schools in mid February for years. I feel that it is especially important during these times when our culture, economy and autonomy is being threatened by the interests of our neighbour to the south that we have a special day to celebrate Canada. Let us make a special day in February to honour our own leaders. It should not merely be a day off work but a day when newspapers, radio and television put out special editions and special programs to honour our former Prime Ministers. As a retired teacher librarian, I feel that a statuary holiday in February is an excellent way to educate the Canadian public about our own history. Schools could use the week leading up to the holiday for special events and assemblies focusing on Canadian Heritage. It is imperative that Prime Minister's Day be a statutory holiday in order to give the memory of our former Prime Ministers the status that they deserve. Hopefully, this holiday will become a reality by February 2003. It is long overdue.
Cathleen Eichhorn

Why single one PM as the first to be honoured? In the Canadian spirit of fairness start with the first PM and go on from there.
Fiona Haynes

On Prime Ministers' Day, all Prime Ministers who have died should be honoured, not just one. It must be a day to remember the contributions of all Prime Ministers, otherwise there will be contests and discussion every year to see who's next to have their name in lights. Some who were less famous and less well known would have a long wait to be honoured. Honouring all deceased Prime Ministers gives a wonderful opportunity for schools and families to learn more about our country in a broad sense, rather than focusing on one era, one period of history.
Pat Armour

I think they should all be honoured as "equal". Their contribution was with respect to their era. We cannot compare them as such. Lets just remember all of them as a " group " as Great Canadians, but not individually. This proposed Day of honour should not be any different than Remembrance Day. Those soldiers gave more than any other Canadians with high status. They gave their lives during horrible situations. The tragic news brought unimaginable grief to their parents. Lets not forget all the worries prior to the event. This can be understood only by existing fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and spouses who have already experienced such a loss. I hope and pray never having to go through that experience.
Guy H. Roussel

I'm responding to the survey, generally: I think that the idea of a stat holiday in Feb. is an excellent one, and have thought so for years. The winters are far too long here not to have a long weekend between Jan. 1 and Easter. Heritage Day would be an ideal date. If we want to call it Prime Ministers Day (I prefer Heritage Day) I think that all of the deceased PMs should be honoured on that day and not select one in particular, like a "Trudeau" day or a "Macdonald" day. All of the PMs contributed in their own way, some more than others, granted. Plus, if we start choosing one over the other, it becomes very political - and we certainly don't need that! Thanks.
L. Armstrong

A new holiday commemorating dead Prime Ministers would be great. Hopefully the first dead Prime Minister we can honour will be Jean Chretien.
Barry Bassingthwaighte

Pierre Trudeau, he brought a sense of style and strong centralized leadership to the role of Prime Minister and to the Federal government.
Emily Venart

John Diefenbaker - when I was a child he came by train to my town and I shook his hand - the only PM I have ever "met". (Well, I met Mulroney on a street in Toronto one night, but he wasn't PM anymore and I didn't feel the need to shake his hand.) We should call the day "Sir John A. Day Eh!" Very Canadian don't you think, eh!
A. Woodland

Pierre Elliot Trudeau because he changed the way of thinking of many Canadiens and he changed Canada's way of being seen by the rest of the world. He was a great man and a great Canadian.
Anne Soini

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, because he was truly patriotic and had the interests of Canadians at heart, much unlike many of the politicians of the day - out for themselves.
Patricia Lavoie

I am a traveling 18-year-old Canadian who has heard about 'Prime Minister's Day'. I am not writing to tell people who my favourite Prime Minister is, but rather why I don't agree with Prime Minister's Day. My reason is simple, it is too much like America's President's Day. We are not America. As a young Canadian, it makes me sad to see how Americanized Canada is and has become. We are Canada, not America or a country that suffers from annexation to the States. Yes, Prime Minister's Day would be Canadian in the sense we would be remembering our Prime Ministers, but just the principle of it. If we are in such desperate need of another holiday, why not have one that runs parallel to America? Why not call it People's Day, or Family Day or something in which we can celebrate all of the people of Canada? Thanks.
Colum Grove-White

Why do the Americans have 2 more (or is it three) stat holidays than we do??
E. Clement

I must say that I am pleased with your initiation of this campaign, however, I am offended by the manner in which you presented the list of deceased Prime Ministers. As a direct descendant of Alexander Mackenzie, Canada's 2nd Prime Minister, I feel you are biasing your voting process by not giving each Prime Minister the opportunity to receive votes. It might interest you to know that when the government held a reception in the west block a few years ago, for descendants of the Prime Ministers, regarding the Prime Ministers' gravesite project, Alexander Mackenzie had the greatest number of descendants present. 2nd was Louis St. Laurent. Here are some of his accomplishments: Liberal 1873-1880 Party Leader Constituencies 1867-1882 Lambton, Ontario 1882-1892 York East, Ontario Other Ministries 1873-1878 Public Works Political Record Formed first Liberal administration of the Dominion of Canada 1873 Secret Ballot 1874 Founding of Royal Military College 1874 Creation of the Supreme Court 1875 Creation of the Office of the Auditor General 1878 Leader of the Opposition 1878-1880 I personally feel that our Prime Ministers should be honoured by a day, but, not necessarily as a holiday. The order of honouring should proceed from 1st to last. It is about time that we begin to recognize and celebrate the lives of great Canadians, not just our Prime Ministers. I greatly admire the work being done in this respect by the CRB Foundation with their Heritage Moments.
Barbara Morgan

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mike Pearson. He was PM at a high point (1967), and this country has been sliding down the long hill to mediocrity since. November 11 should be a stat holiday across the country.
Mitch

I'm not sure if there is one Prime Minister in line that should be address more than the other. As a nation yes we should have a 'Prime Ministers' day. Plus Canadians should have the national holiday of July 1st off work not the nearest Monday or Friday just to make it a long weekend. Canadians should also, put more meaning into Thanksgiving. The Americans have all kinds of national holidays linking from Presidents day to Martin Luther King day, July 4th (which is the true American Independence day and celebrated on) and we cannot forget how beloved their Thanksgiving is. We are Canadians and it is about time we make it known!
Kimberly

P.E.Trudeau, obviously. He stood for the people...not the economist...In the past, our Governments were created by the people, for the people. Today they are created by the people, for the businesses, or what I call, for the Rich and Famous. He called a spade a spade. He didn't beat around the bush. He would not have allowed our troops to work as the eagles cronies as an offensive force. The word offensive speaks for itself. Trudeau didn't allow internal, or external power to influence him away from his Quest to unite us as a great caring, collective nation. His part in time, as a proud, playful, self determined Prime Minister of Canada, will live on in our minds, and in the history of our Great Country. The gift of his presents is something that we should treasure and celebrate.
Craig Cavanagh

I think that a day honouring past prime ministers is a good idea. A statutory holiday, however, may not be the best way to promote patriotism and pass on our heritage to our children. If a day was devoted to remembering past prime ministers and their deeds, wouldn't it be better to have our children in school actually learning something of our history?
Lisa

None of them cause they all have a different approach to things once they no there pockets are full, the rest of us tax payer pay pay pay, there is no end, and too the politics have taken control of our lives way to much. I'm just so fed up with them all, and I'm retired, have no idea what these poor young people are going to do to survive through the years, its a wander there so much crime out there they done it...
Jackie

I think the holiday is long overdue but that it should be named solely for Sir John A. Macdonald as the first PM; without him we would be a different nation. Time we recognized our political roots.
M. Cunningham

I'd like to see Canada follow the lead of the U.S. - We have been disturbed over the September 11th - The U.S. is considering this date as a national holiday. I understand this happened in North America - should we not support and enjoy our good buddies to the south? After all - New York is not too far away. On escort duty, North Atlantic a regular layover was in New York or Boston. They loved us - their Air force (blimps) covered our convoys quite a distance out to sea. We are one in spirit.
Scott Bryson,
RCNVR Second World War

Because the U.S. has a Presidents' Day is no reason for Canada to have a Prime Ministers' Day. The head of state of the U.S. is their President, while the head of state of Canada is HM Queen Elizabeth II. I am reminded of a mess dinner in Melbourne that I attended, where a junior Australian army officer, after the toast to the Queen was made, shouted on my behalf, to the Prime Minister of Canada. To which the rest in attendance smirked and at least one person informed the upstart that the head of state of both Canada and Australia is HM Queen Elizabeth II. Is the world full of ignorant republicans?
Lionel Boxer CD
Melbourne, Victoria
Australia

I love Sir Robert Laird Borden. He pulled the country together in a time of crisis (First World War) with his Unionist government. If only we had leaders that sought to unite the country over other challenges, instead of always looking for ways to exploit divisions. (But I think other suggestions for a new holiday should also be explored - Flag Day and Constitution Day would both fall in February if I'm not mistaken.)
Graham Bowers

I think most people want the holiday, not to celebrate dead leaders, but just to celebrate. Why not a more universal celebration? February 14th? Love - now that's something to celebrate!
David B.

J. A. MacDonald deserves a holiday in his name.
Matt Thatcher

We should honor all Canadian Prime Ministers. Why? The reason for this is that they all have shaped and built this awesome nation. It should merely the Prime Ministers' Day! Or a national recognition day. Good or bad they all have had influence in all our lives, young or old. Every Prime Minister tries to improve upon the other's short-comings. As Einstein stated "I (we) stand upon the shoulders of giants." This is where we develop the greatness that we (Canada) are.
Patrick W. McGuire

When I see a Prime Minister who puts the vibrancy and well being of Canada's Parliament and people ahead of his or her own political ambitions, then I'll have a favorite Prime Minister. I love this country we are the smallest in terms of population of all the G7 nations and yet we lead the world in telecommunications and power engineering. However, every time I watch the goings on in our Parliament I sometimes feel ashamed to call myself Canadian.
Paul Watson

It's a toss up between Sir John A and Lester B... Sir John A was quite the character, but being the first Prime Minister of Canada was not an easy task! Lester B. put Canada on the map with his work with the UN and should be recognized for those efforts. I think a PM day will be a great excuse to teach the multitudes of the population who have no idea how rich Canadian history really is (or for those who are ignorant of our history in the first place, which is too many people).
Tina

My initial thought is to have an Immigration Day, honouring Canadians who were pioneers, past and present. However, this would be a cruel shortcoming to our First Nations Citizens. I support the idea of a Prime Ministers' Day; but lets extend it to all Great Canadians, including our First Nation Leaders, and a host of other Great Canadians. I propose Maple Leaf Day!
Douglas Bundy

Why not celebrate John Cabot(CABOTTO DAY)or Columbus Day instead of PM day. The U.S. has Columbus Day.
F Consalvo

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