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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, Feb. 1 - 4

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'm in favour of a National Holiday in Canada, but not to commemorate any Prime Minister, but to commemorate the life and times of Peter Gzowski, the greatest media man of all time. It will be called Chinook Day. I wholeheartedly support such a venture.
Anita MacLellan

I did pick one Prime Minister to honour on this day, I would prefer however that we honour all our Prime Ministers that have served our Canada. We should also encourage schools to study the lives and contribution of these leaders the week prior to this holiday. Special media coverage at this time each year would also be a great idea with newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV specials, WEBcasts, and commemorative ceremonies as well.
Pierre Laframboise

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a Prime Minister of my main time in life and I grew to a great respect for him, looking at his accomplishments and looking at the other Prime Ministers, I think Prime Minister Trudeau was a man of great character.
Gerry McCarthy,
Newfoundland and Labrador

Pierre Trudeau is my favourite Prime Minister, for he tried to make us more self-sufficient, to have our own businesses, instead of relying on U.S. investments. He was a true Canadian. Laurier, St. Laurent were okay, too. Why exonerate such as Sir John A. MacDonald? He never created Canada. He had to be convinced that it would be a good idea. It must have been a long, costly process, for Sir John A. rarely thought of much beyond his next drink. Many of our Prime Ministers and Premiers have been the same. It seems we like politicians who booze it up, lie to us and mistreat the poor.
Sue Shaw

I think that rather than commemorating a past Prime Minister, maybe we should try harder to remember the dead Canadians who lay down their lives for us in the World Wars and Korean Conflict and any other mission related to keeping our country safe. Rather than allowing unions or businesses to carry on with business as usual on November 11 maybe we should ensure that all government offices set an example for other businesses in Canada and make and keep November 11 a "Real Remembrance Day".
Karen Tulk

In response to a previous question . We Canadians are strange in so many ways, most of which are wonderful, but one of the strangest is trying so hard to be Americans. I wonder why we are trying to Americanize ourselves, once again, with a Prime Minister's Day holiday? We already have Heritage Day and Canada Flag Day in February. Let's maintain our identity, be proud to be Canadians, and celebrate one of these days rather than the more political approach of our dear but different U.S. neighbours.
Sarah Campbell

I don't have a particular favourite. It seems they all start out fine but stay around to long. It would be better to have a heritage day than a Prime Ministers' Day.
M.S. Coleman

Lester B.Pearson seems to have been the last Prime Minister that we could trust to be honest and truly concerned with our country. Since his time in office ended we have had nothing but dictators, egocentric blowhards, and total embarrassments for leaders. There is no way I think that any of his successors should be honored in such a way. As for the Prime Ministers before him, few of them deserve the honors, and most of them at least have (or have had) their likenesses on currency and/or stamps. However, I don't think we need to honor any of our Prime Ministers. Maybe we should have a "Citizens' Day" to honour the selfless deeds and actions of some of our "ordinary" people who really do wonderful things for Canada and their fellow Canadians without thought of their own glory, power or personal gain.
L. Archer
Alberta

Pierre E. Trudeau is my favourite Prime Minister for repatriating our constitution, giving us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and our own distinctive flag. He was intelligent, level headed, and indisputably a leader of quality - the only such one Canada has ever had (re: handling the Americans over the Northwest Passage, handling the FLQ appropriately by invoking the War Measures Act, and handling the press regarding the break up of his marriage, and last but not least, realizing the importance of entrenching our rights and freedoms within the constitution).
Francie Dennison

I am in favour of a holiday in February and feel it should be called "flag day" and celebrated on the 15th -- (in a way honouring Mike Pearson) there are some prime ministers whom I would chose not to honour -- specifically Brian Mulroney -- Pierre Trudeau is my favourite prime minister because he gave my country world-wide recognition and kept Quebec in the country -- I am not unaware of his faults, but his accomplishments far outweigh his deficiencies. Or we could call it "chinook day" as peter Gzowski suggested, but the easteners might rebel.
C. Moore

Pierre Trudeau. He was able to gain the respect of thousands, both his peers and worldwide conscious people. Getting people to listen is the most difficult. After that people will judge for themselves. I believe we should have a national holiday to honour these fallen servants of our country. The Americans honour their dead presidents. Our men of office deserve the same respect.
Lois Lemire

After having just sobbed my way through the tribute to Peter Gzowski, I must agree that a long weekend in February would be a great idea. Peter represented Canada to many modern day Canadians and touched so many lives of Canadians in his lifetime. Since Gzowski was so devoted to this country during his lifetime, I believe it would be more fitting to remember him with a holiday than someone who served as prime minister for a few years of their life. It was Gzowski's idea to have a holiday in February and name it Chinook Day. And, as his son said, we will always know whom this holiday really honours. (As for prime minister, Trudeau is one who served in my lifetime and impressed me the most.)
J. Hart

I believe that Pierre Elliot Trudeau was our greatest PM. He was certainly the worldliest and one of the brightest leaders we have had. His actions were not always (ok, seldom) popular but I think that if we examine what he said, he was often many years ahead of the rest of us. His philosophy of government, leadership and relations between people was brilliant and insightful. People in Alberta hated PET over the NEP and his refusal to coddle them. He effectively worked with both English and French Canadians. In short, he was our brightest and best.
R. Johnson

I think a day honouring our Prime Ministers is a great idea. Too many children leave school with little or no knowledge of our own history. It's well overdue that as a country we should honour our own leaders. Can most of us name more than the last 3 Prime Ministers?
Lila

The idea of introducing a Prime Minister's day is long overdue. We as Canadians are and should be proud of everything each of our Prime Ministers have done for this country. There is reason to celebrate. As Canadians, we are allowed our freedom of speech/opinions, but whether or not we regarded any individual person as the "Ideal Prime Minister", they all deserve due recognition. It would be fitting to acknowledge Sir John A. Macdonald on the first celebration of this special day, since he was the first Prime Minister to represent the People of Canada.
Roseanne Venables

Diefenbaker: because he was a maverick amongst his political peers. He was strongly opinionated, inclusive to all Canadians in his political views, strongly outspoken, and reminded me at times, of being the Canadian version of Winston Churchill; bold and brash, if not always brilliant. They didn't call him 'Dief-the-Chief' for nothing. I still miss him.
Jayson Aitch

I definitely think Canadians need an additional holiday in February. People are under too much stress with work and trying to maintain a family, etc. However, I would like to see our First Nations honored instead of Prime Ministers. I have much respect and admiration for our past Prime Ministers, but think we really need to honor the people who were here first. After all the U.S. has Black History month.
Ann Seymour

Aren't we Canadians lazy enough already, More holidays!?
Shirley

In addition to our favorites, why don't you run a web survey on our most hated prime ministers? It would be just as interesting to see our most despicable scoundrels as well as our visionary leaders.
Harry Tick

I think the idea of having another holiday is a good one, and if so I feel that Pearson is a good choice, though Sir John A. MacDonald is another obvious choice. However, the comment I really want to make is about another holiday which I am disgusted that we don't already have. November 11th, Remembrance Day, should be a national holiday. Why any country would not choose to honour its war dead with a day of remembrance - a real day of remembrance, is beyond me. Surely the people who died to give us our freedom deserve this small token of respect. Our American neighbours have a veterans day, why don't we?
M. Murray

I think having a Prime Minister's Day would be a benefit to all Canadians. It would be a great way to educate Canadians of our own history. Most Canadians could name more Presidents of the United States than they could name PM's of Canada. I don't think a PM day should be about any one prime minister but about all of them.
Susanne Martin

Alexander MacKenzie, the second Prime Minister of Canada, should first of all be honoured in his own right and not under simply "others". He made profound and lasting changes to Canada's history in establishing the Supreme Court of Canada and founding the Royal Military College in Kingston, which is still an active university and officer training institute for Canada's future armed forces. His morals and family values were high and exemplify the civilized society we strive to maintain in Canada. His humble beginnings as a stonemason to that of Prime Minister personify the greatness to which one can rise in a free country such as Canada, however, Alexander MacKenzie never forgot his roots as a common man and turned down the title to his office believing that all men are equal. His belief in a Supreme Court system showed his committment to the importance of giving consistent representation across the nation. Of personal significance, Alexander MacKenzie is my husband's great grandfather and thrice great grandfather to our three children after whom our elder son is named. They have been brought up to cherish and be proud of their heritage and celebrate their ancestry. They have given school speeches about their ancestor and actively play the bagpipes and highland dance. They wish to serve our country and attend RMC. Another of his descendents is the first and current Supreme Court judge in Nunavut. For Canada's sake, if we are to honour those Prime Ministers who have contributed greatly to shaping our nation then Alexander MacKenzie should certainly have a vote in his own right. Fair representation for all in Canada exists by his hand.
Betsy Thompson

Sir John A Macdonald was a visionary and without his dreams, Canada would likely not be a nation today. He was not a perfect individual, but Canadians don't look to deify our role models, but simply acknowledge their deeds. Forty-seven years in politics, creating a diverse coalition to begin the country, creating the idea for the North West Mounted Police, dealing with western rebellion, forging the National Policy, working with French Canada and last but not least, assuring the completion of the railway all united Canada and gave us a rich history. Besides, holidays are times to celebrate, and old sir John certainly knew how to have a good time.
Terry Reynolds

Pierre Trudeau. Why? Because he had the ability to be 'one of the people' while maintaining an air of strength and nobility. He always kept the best interests of Canadians at the forefront. He was loved and hated (depending on who you speak to) but in the end the facts speak for themselves - he did a lot of good for Canada! God bless him!
Carole Fréchette

I think that making April Fool's Day the official day to recognize Prime Ministers Day is a great idea. I think it would be much better to have a day that recognizes the achievements of all great Canadians. I am sure that the top ten selections would be much different than your list. We have many in this country that have done more for Canada than our list of notable Prime Ministers. Do we really need to take a step closer to becoming Americans by indulging in a tiered system of self-indulgence and self-importance? Perhaps it is time that we recognize the one thing that truly makes us different from our southern cousins is that we do not need to be anything but Canadians.
James Donohue

I was directed to this web page by an e-mail from a friend, instructing me to vote "yes" for another national holiday. She doesn't care who is honoured on this day, she just wants another day off. How much is someone like this, and the rest of working Canadians actually going to learn about our history if this day is implemented? I also think that having this holiday on or near the U.S. President's day will only make Canadians feel more Americanized. That's the last thing I want to feel. Thanks for having a comments page.
Cindy Neilson

As E. E. Cummings once wrote, "a politician is an arse upon/ which everything else has sat, but a man." I am writing, not to answer the above question, but for other purposes, as your website does not otherwise allow me to express my views. I wish to register my support for the idea of a new public holiday. However, as the Prime Minister is head of government, not the head of state, I am opposed to the notion of using a public holiday to honour Canadian prime ministers, dead or otherwise. The office of PM already concentrates enormous power - it does not need further aggrandizing in the form of ritualized worship. There are other causes and individuals worth honouring in Canada, without ransacking the national archives for a politico we can all pretend to admire without reservation.
M.B. McKenty

My favorite Prime Minister is Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I grew up watching the CBC 24 hours news at 6:00pm with my father. He loved to watch anything on politics. I followed the stories right along with him as a young girl. I was always intrigued about the to do about Margaret Trudeau, the panache that Pierre exhumed and as I grew up I adopted the vision of Canada similar to Trudeau's. He was not driven by fear he was driven by passion, passion for his country and I will always admire him even if I did not always agree with him. My proudest moment was when I turned 18 I had the honor of voting for Prime Minister Trudeau.
Jules

Pierre Elliot Trudeau, a great statesman who was honourable, honest(unlike some of his successors) and represented our country with class, intelligence and dignity! We will not see his like again unfortunately.
Peter R. de Castell

William Lyon MacKenzie King, of course. Only Canada would repeatedly elect someone who took advice from his dead mother and his dog. He is the quintessential prime minister.
Margaret Fraser

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