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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, February 7

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.


Kim Campbell is by far my favorite Prime Minister. She was totally shafted by the Conservative government. She was the "fall gal" for Mulroney. I truly feel that if she was given a fair chance, she would have succeeded.
Neil Overbeek

I have more than one favorite. Myself as is the case with so many other Canadians we don't hear enough about the accomplishments of our own leaders and citizens. This holiday would be a great way to introduce some Canadians to our political history. I really like the idea of featuring one Prime Minister each year for the above reason. I also feel we should go back to a National holiday for Remembrance Day. Every year in November people begin to discuss "Lest we Forget". Going back to this holiday would be a memorial to all those who are responsible for our freedom today.
Lucille Grant

I would like to see another stat holiday in February but any unions or government agencies that have floating holidays - this one should become the floater. I don't want to see government and union workers get an additional holiday at the expense of taxpayers.
Darlene Moran

Guys. Be honest. Everyone knows that this is really Peter Gzowsky's 'Chinook Day' you are talking about here. Why not just leave it as that?
Julia Morrison

I heartily am in favor of a one-day holiday in Feb. --- preferably on a regular date on either side of weekend, (ie. the 2nd Fri. or Mon. of the month). This has been talked about for years - hopefully some decision will be made.
S. Copland

Yes I think Canadians (North Americans) need more holidays. The other G7 countries have a lot better time off legislated, not like Ontario where you can now be required to work 60 hours before the company needs to start to pay overtime. No wonder we suffer so much burnout and family breakdown. I thought this type of corporate attitude died with the industrial revolution. I am not a union supporter but if a union could boost my time off work, I would vote yes in a moment. Corporations have to start worrying about how much more money my staff can make for me and start to ask what they as a corporation can do to improve the quality of their staffs lives. It will come back a hundred-fold. Also for those employers who wonder why there is no staff loyalty stop and ask yourself the last time you did a good deed for your staff.
Pat Coad

Schoolchildren know more about the presidents of the U.S. than about the prime ministers of their own country. It is time we honoured those who have led and shaped our country. I do not feel educated enough about our past prime ministers to vote on whom I consider to be my favourite and I would appreciate more interesting and informative stories about all of them.
Shirley M. Lazareth

Louis St. Laurent, because in my opinion he was the most respected.
Emile Vendette

Yes, let's have a Prime Minister's day. The Americans recognize their leaders on President's Day, I think we should too. We need a break in Feb., it's a long winter.
Sylvia P.

Regarding a new Prime Minister's Day. Why not start with the first PM and make it a history "lesson", and each year choose the next PM and do the same. Most of us haven't a clue about most of Canada's PMs over the years, and doing it in sequence, covering his activities would make it really informative and interesting.
Diane Matheson

The men, and hopefully some day the women, that run our country do just as good a job and are just as important as the men that run the U.S. We need to send that message out by celebrating their successes and thus those of our country with a special day.
Angela Thompson

I could support a "Flag Day" in February but would be opposed to a Prime Ministers' Day.
Cathy Langille

Pierre Trudeau because he bonded with the hierarchy and the "common folk" and it called it like it was to him - he was a very intelligent person who cared for Canada very deeply.
Doreen Burton

For a favourite Prime Minister, I would choose Sir Charles Tupper. His impact on this country is truly impressive but very much overlooked. In particular, Tupper was crucial to the Confederation effort - his initiation of a conference on Maritime Union, his defeat of the anti-confederation Joseph Howe, his efforts at the Confederation Conferences and his government's consistent support of the initiative were essential to this country being formed. He was also an integral part of Nova Scotia's history while representing Cumberland County at the highest levels of both the federal and provincial levels of government and instrumental to the development of such key institutions as the Canadian Medical Association and Dalhousie University. As well, he offers an image that is appealing, almost heroic. He was 'the Fighting Doctor' and a Father of Confederation - a trusted, hardworking country doctor who traveled by horseback to patients far and wide and a tough political warrior who stood up for what he believed in. Without Nova Scotia on side, I doubt that Confederation would have proceeded with only Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. As Sir Wilfred Laurier stated in 1911: "... next to Sir John A MacDonald, the man who did the most to bring Canada into Confederation is the veteran statesman ... Sir Charles Tupper." Unfortunately, I have found that even here, in his hometown of Amherst, N.S., there is very little to recognize him. His house is still here and the pharmacy he founded in 1843 (the longest operating pharmacy in Canada) but little else. There is a school named for him and the museum has a picture of him. But that is about it.
Larry Pardy

I would like to see Prime Ministers Day. All should be included, celebrated with plays by high schools, theaters, poems, music from the time dance and folk music with fashion of the year. Essay competitions in schools, etc. We celebrate Canada Day-present Prime Ministers Day- History of Canada, like thank you for your contribution so we have a great country to live in.
Ildi

I do want a holiday in February, however, I do not want to commemorate dead prime ministers. How lame and what are we copycats of our noisy neighbour to the south with the nuclear bomb in his garage? Let's do something Canadian eh? How about Beaver Day or Midwinters' Day or Chinook Day as suggested by Peter Gzowski. I am not so sure I want to celebrate dead prime ministers. There are many people who contributed to the service of our country, and to making it a great place. To single out this group seems to me to be a bit shallow. And they are not a true representative of what our country is - they are a bunch of dead white men - not what my country is. So let's think about it and look at what we really want to celebrate about this great country called Canada.
Brenda Lee Kyle
Vancouver, B.C.

I believe that we should have a day to represent or greatest prime minister ever. Mr Trudeau. He was a great man and did a lot for this country. He should have a day for us to remember him.
A.E.
Newfoundland

I don't pick one Prime Minister in particular but think that we should have a national holiday to commemorate them, the same as President's Day.
M. Smith

Prime Minister Chretien. He does the job and doesn't care what the media or others think about him. He's up front and tells you the truth whether you want to hear it or not.
Norma Crawford

I think former prime minister King is my favorite premier due to his radical behavior and his good works. I want to vote yes for a special holiday in Feb.
R.M.A.

You say that Pearson gave us the flag, he did, but why did we get stuck with Liberal colours? With the existing design the appropriate colours, to still retain the red, white and blue for historical purposes would have been a blue bar on each side to represent 'ocean to ocean' a white band between them to represent the 'Arctic' and a red maple leaf in the middle. The small-minded acts of our politicians is infuriating at times, this takes the cake.
Tom Brason

I would like to remind you that our just-departed Peter G. wanted to call a long-weekend in February the Chinook. While it will likely be easier to actually have the holiday passed in Parliament if it is named after an ex-Prime Minister, I personally believe a more neutral approach be taken and support the naming of the weekend as the Chinook.
Tracey Macdonald

Do we have to follow the U.S. in everything? Can we not just have a holiday? I think honouring our Prime Ministers is a fine idea but can we not do it some other time? Does it have to be so - blatantly - American?
Deb Marshall

I vote to have a national holiday in February. It is a long cold winter stretch between Jan 1st and Easter. It would greatly relieve much stress, and give Canadians a much deserved winter day off to look forward to. The tourist industry would also be given a boost. It wouldn't hurt the majority of employers, they would probably welcome the increase in staff morale during the long winter months.
Catherine North
Chatham, Ont

Sir John A Macdonald, the father of our nation, deserves the long awaited recognition of a day of celebration. In the U.S., George Washington's birthday is a national holiday where he is known and respected by even the youngest school-aged American. Many Canadians even know about and feel honor for Washington's achievements. Yet there are few in Canada who know the father of our nation's name, and an even smaller few, who know his birthday or what he accomplished. Not many countries around the world would leave someone so important to it's history, with out any national recognition. Macdonald was the person who wished to unite all the different parts of land that are known to us today, as Canada. Three conferences were held to discuss the possibility of becoming one great nation. He was a leading delegate at all three, and this is why he is called 'Sir'. He received the highest honor of being a knight to the Queen, for his work on creating unity. Canada started as only 4 provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with British Columbia and Manitoba joining shortly after. British Columbia wanted a railroad to join all the provinces together and Macdonald answered this request by pushing for the Canadian Pacific Railroad to be built. This railway linked the populated eastern provinces to the unpopulated west. Many of the cities in the west grew up around these CPR stations and it successfully linked Canadians to each other and eventually to the world. This great man was also responsible for the creation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to protect you while you sleep and the first national park of Canada in Banff, Alberta to make sure our beautiful park areas stay that way for future generations. You often hear people wondering why many Canadians do not feel as 'patriotic' as our American neighbours. With there being only one course in Canadian History required in high schools and few national historic holidays, you do not need to wonder very long. February is considered by many to be one of the coldest and hardest months to deal with in Canada. This is greatly due to the fact there are no national holidays and nothing to celebrate or look forward to. Do we need a holiday to recognize this great man? Do Canadian children know these things about the first leader of our country? Did you? Isn't it time we feel proud to be Canadians not only for what we do, but also for what we have done.
Amanda Blain

Actually I would prefer to have a holiday in February, as was championed by Peter Gzowsky and named "Chinook Day". The intention of that day was to celebrate Canadians who have made important contributions to our country. Each year, we could spotlight a different person to honour on that day --- perhaps a Prime Minister or perhaps someone like Peter or Agnes McPhail or Tommy Douglas. It would give each of us a chance to learn more about the broad range of people who have influenced our history and our lives and it would be much more interesting for all of us to than it would be if we limited the day's honouree to one of our prime ministers. In addition, it would also allow us to honour great Canadians of both genders who come from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. Given the diversity of our wonderful country, such a holiday would be more representative of Canada than a day which honours only prime ministers (Some of whose contributions may be considered extremely dubious.) Think of the fun and the learning to be had, if all Canadians were invited to send in their nominations for the honouree of the year. We might actually get both adults and children actively involved in an on-going national contest of significance the result of which we could all celebrate on the actual holiday. I hope someone is listening to this idea.
Arei

Jean Chrétien is my favourite Prime minister. You have to give him credit he is truly a Canadian as he shows distain for his critics, displays subtle arrogance and constantly has his foot in his mouth.
Robin Massé

Since all Canadians have a different favorite, we should just have a Prime Minister's Day as a holiday, honouring all Prime Ministers who have gone before us, on that holiday.
Leo Gardiner

Instead of a holiday that honours all prime Ministers, I'm in favour of one in honour of Sir John A. Macdonald, only. Why, because he was our first and because he had something our current Prime Minister does not have; "a vision of the country, for the country."
David Mackel Smith.

The February long week-end should commemorate Peter Gzowski.
Allan Good

I think it is a great idea to honor our prime ministers, Canada doesn't do enough to acknowledge our history and the people who make it. My favourite prime minister would have to be Sir Wilfrid Laurier as he was a distant relative of my father's family and mine.
Amanda Richards

I think only those of us who even know who the previous Prime Ministers were should be allowed to partake in the celebration. This would probably not include me, since I am Canadian born. We studied Canadian history and briefed over a few of the Prime Ministers in grade 5 or 6, then spent most of our time learning about the rest of the world. At this point (I am 32 now), you ask me who I think should be the first PM to be honoured or who I think is my favourite. Well, I can tell you who is not my favourite and who shouldn't be honoured at all, but aside from that, I remember more about the dead U.S. Presidents than I do our own history and culture.
David Meikle

Sir John A. MacDonald was instrumental in the construction of the CPR, which tied the colonies together. Without Macdonald,drunk or sober, we might not have a Canada. Lester B. Pearson was the brain behind the United Nations' peace keeping program, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Pearson was also a key player in giving us a health care system, and our flag. I suggest that we use the first two letters from Macdonald, Pearson and Leaf, and honour all three by naming February 2, MAPELE-Pronounced maple- Day.
William Bedford

Jean Chretien for his for vision and sense of humour
Suzette Vinci-Irwin

Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He had a something... Gusto, Go get them attitude. He was colorful and always gave us something to talk about out of the norm. Politics is boring. He made it exciting.... I Vote yes to the holiday in honor of Pierre.
Gloria Collins

First of all change the holiday name. I don't want to celebrate the last four prime ministers. The favorite was actually Dief.
Shaun Gorman

I like the poll that you are doing on whether or not we should honour our past Prime Ministers because I think that we should. They have made what our country is today, which is something that I proudly stand behind. But I think instead of these people being referred to as dead prime ministers we should look at them as past prime ministers. Sure they are dead but the memories and the contributions that they have left this country with are from being dead. These are the people that have molded this great nation into something that I think all Canadians are proud of. So instead of using the word dead I think that we should use words like past or remembered prime ministers to show our country and the rest of the world that these leaders are dead but there memory lives on.
David Priest

I vote yes, I believe it should also be called Sir John A. Macdonald day. Because of him we are a country, he has done the things he said he would. He didn't only say things he thought everyone whould want to hear. He did what he said he would do.
Deana

I vote yes for the holiday, and it should be called "Sir John A. Macdonald Day". And we haven't had a good Prime Minister since. There are two of us of voting age in this household so count us both in, make that two of us.
Cory

We forgot all our greatest First Nation leaders originally and Canadians should honour dead First Nation leaders because they were enough nice to give our land away that didn't belong to white people in government. It will never be the same for First Nation's generations. In return, We should creative our own Flag for Canada so other countries remember that Canada's first land was First Nations.
Thelma

A break in February would help the winters we get in this northern climate, especially on the Prairies. And who knows, this may be one thing we get from the PM other than taxes and ignoring the west....
L. M. LArson

They should all be commemorated
Sally Albert

Instead of naming this proposed holiday "Prime Minister's Day", let's consider "Canadian History Day" as a more appropriate name. In this way, we can celebrate all things that make Canada and it's past so unique. Personally, I am embarrassingly aware of my own lack of understanding regarding Canadian political leaders and events, and the marks they have made on history. As a school teacher, I am also aware that students are not taught any Canadian history until Grade 5. In high school, many Canadian history classes are optional. The end result is a nation that knows more about U.S. pop culture than our own country's history! I would appreciate a day dedicated towards making the Canadian population more "history savvy", and the chance to make my students more aware of this country we call home.
Rolande

A long weekend in the winter would be terrific, as we have aside from Christmas not one single holiday during the winter season, when we truly need a day off.
L Roberton

Trudeau is my pick as best PM, but that's not what I want to say here; instead of a national holiday honouring Prime Ministers (and find a Canadian who can name them all), why not have a provincial holiday in each province, all occurring on the same day, named after a noteworthy person from that province? Nova Scotia could have Joseph Howe day, Saskatchewan could have Louis Riel Day, etc. We could even have fun with it- Quebec could of course have Maurice DuPlessis Day; PEI could have Anee of Green Gables Day, as there's really nobody of note from PEI; Newfoundland should have Mary Walsh or Tommy Sexton Day....... And let's face it, another good reason for not having a Prime Minister's Day: does Brian Mulroney really deserve a holiday named after him?
David Green

I would say Mr. Pearson is my favorite PM, because his efforts brought Canada such a positive international reputation. I have read that Canada has the fewest official holidays, and I know we definitely need more, especially in February.
Gaylene

Instead of prime ministers' day, I would suggest the commemoration of Louis Riel, a true Canadian patriot and loyalist who was hung by our illustrious prime minister Macdonald for trying to assert democratic rights and equal treatment of the races. Don't prime ministers do enough horn-blowing on their own behalf?
Taivo Evard

I have to admit that I am not much into politics, but am very proud to be a Canadian. I would not trade this fact for the world! I would like to say that as a 21-year-old female and a reservist, 16 Medical Company, Regina, SK, that I am very happy with our current prime minister. Especially how he handled the Sep 11 United States terrorist attackes. He offered help and was ready to do more if asked
Bree Thauberger

Hi, I guess I am in agreement with Peter Gzowski in that I would prefer a "Chinook Day" - or a family day. I am not really into a prime minister day.
Gwen Moncayo

Sir John A. MacDonald is my favourite Prime Minister, because he laid most of the groundwork for our political way of life.
Joan Little

Pierre Trudeau. He added a touch of pizzazz to Canada. We need to have a February holiday to honour our prime ministers and to give Canadians a much needed break in the middle of winter. What better way to celebrate?
Doreen Frankland

Actually commenting on the choice of days to commemorate our Prime Ministers. From a tourism perspective, it would be wise to select a different weekend than the similar President's Day long weekend. Since many Americans spend their holiday in Canada tourism is already 'up' on this weekend. Canadians would benefit from having the addition of a holiday on a separate weekend.
Lee-Ann

Sir John A Macdonald We in Kingston have been trying for years to have a day in Feb. designated for Macdonald. He was first prime minister and Kingston was his capital. We have a lot of opposition from others mainly in Quebec for some reason..
L.E. Woods

I think a better idea is what Morningside suggested: "Chinook Day" Peter Gzowski's listeners suggested this. If it was to be a Prime Minister - then it should be our first Prime Minister, Sir. John A Macdonald to reflect the beginnings of this country.
C. Fawcett

I don't think enough Canadians remember all that we learn in school about Canadian Prime Ministers. We need to focus on Canadian history more and all the accomplishments of our Prime Ministers. Our roots may be European but we are definitely Canadians.
Leanne Juer

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