THE PRIME MINISTERS OF CANADA 6th edition
From John A. Macdonald to Justin Trudeau
Jean Chevrier, Denis L. Daigneault,
Jeanne Poulin and
Gerald C. Gummersell, Editors
$29.95 (taxes included)
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
Former Governor General of Canada
In Canada, we have created a country based on social equality. While it is still a work in progress, neither perfect nor complete, it is a glorious experiment. It is not centered in an elite or a self-serving majority but in a society of minorities who learn from each other and who agree, in the words of Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, that “there can be no privileged caste in Canada outside and above the mass of its people.”
Our trajectory to nationhood began some 400 years ago when French, English and Aboriginal joined in a small circle of mutual benefit and need. Since then, the circle has widened to welcome native-born and immigrant and we have collaborated in building a pluralistic society that Pierre Elliott Trudeau envisioned would make Canada “the envied seat of a form of federalism that belongs to tomorrow’s world.”
The part played by Canada’s leaders in our political awakening begins with Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin whose reform alliance introduced responsible government and the principles that have guided our best accomplishments. These two men, along with Joseph Howe who brought democracy to Nova Scotia, promoted the democratic ideal of elected representatives serving an educated citizenry.
Our prime ministers have guided our country’s destiny by adhering to the ethics that give responsible government its integrity, and by responding with restraint and moderation to the difficulties posed by a complex population and geography. Their success in good governance has given us political captains who have helped chart our evolution, from the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 to the creation of Nunavut and the Nisga’a treaty in 2000. Their commitment to advance the collective well-being was expressed by Joseph Howe in his dictum, “The only questions I ask myself are, What is right? What is just? What is for the public good?” and reflects a fundamental principle that has become a national characteristic.
As we look at our nation’s history, we see how Canada has been influenced by the character and actions of our prime ministers. Their limitations and their mistakes are lessons in nation building for all of us. But the solid principles that have informed their terms of office—their egalitarian assumptions, their reliance on a reasoned, rather than coercive, call to unity and justice—have assisted our nation in its most admirable accomplishment, that of being a working democracy.
I am grateful to those who contributed to this book. To its readers, I offer my hope that it will encourage you to read more about Canada’s leaders and its history. We have, from an elite-driven colonial past, created a prosperous, generous place, a country that has moved from ethnocentrism to a creative and dynamic inclusiveness, and our leaders have played a central part in this transformation. Our role as citizens in this democracy is not separate from that of our politicians. Together, we are engaged in establishing ideals that my predecessor Lord Alexander encouraged Canadians to pursue, those “… moral and spiritual values which form the character of a people and make them truly great.”
Michael Bliss (John A. Macdonald) was University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. His many books include Right Honourable Men: The Descent of Canadian Politics from Macdonald to Chrétien. He passed away on May 18, 2017.
John M. Bumstead (Alexander Mackenzie), was a professor of history and Fellow of St. John’s College, has written extensively on Scottish and Canadian history. He passed away on January 25, 2020.
Carman Miller (John Abbott) is Emeritus Professor of history and former Dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University.
P. B. Waite (John Thompson) was Professor Emeritus at the history Department at Dalhousie University and has written several books of Canadian history. He passed away on August 24, 2020
Jacques Monet, s.j. (Mackenzie Bowell) is Emeritus Professor of history at Regis College at the University of Toronto, and Historian at the Archive of the Jesuits in Canada, Montreal.
David M. L. Farr (Charles Tupper) was Professor Emeritus of history at Carleton University; he wrote on the 19th-century relationship between Canada and Great Britain. He passed away on October 3, 2016.
Réal Bélanger (Wilfrid Laurier) is a retired Professor of socio-political history of Canada and Quebec at Laval University and is co-director of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada.
Robert Craig Brown (Robert Borden) was Emeritus Professor of history at the University of Toronto and a former president of the Canadian Historical Association. He passed away on September 22, 2016
J. L. Granatstein (Arthur Meighen) is a historian and former Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum.
H. Blair Neatby (W. L. Mackenzie King), was Professor Emeritus at Carleton University; he was a specialist in Canadian political history. He passed away on March 11, 2018.
Larry Glassford (R. B. Bennett) is a Professor at the University of Windsor where he teaches history and the politics of education.
Bernard Chevrier (Louis St. Laurent) is a historian, author and former federal public servant.
Bill Waiser (John Diefenbaker), is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan and a specialist in western and northern Canadian history.
John English (Lester B. Pearson) taught history at the University of Waterloo, authored a two-volume biography of Lester Pearson, and is an editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
Ramsay Cook (Pierre Elliott Trudeau) was Professor of history at York University and is general editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. He passed away in Toronto on 14 July 2016.
Patrick Brennan (Joe Clark) is Associate Professor Emeritus of history at the University of Calgary specializing in 20th-century Canadian political and military history.
Robert Bothwell (John Turner) is the author of the Penguin History of Canada and several books on foreign relations and teaches at the University of Toronto.
Norman Hillmer (Brian Mulroney) is Professor of history and international affairs at Carleton University and co-author of Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada’s Leaders.
Patricia Roy (Kim Campbell) is Emeritus Professor of Canadian history at the University of Victoria.
Desmond Morton (Jean Chrétien) taught history at McGill University and was the founding director of the McGill Institute for the study of Canada. He passed away in Montreal on September 5th 2019.
Michael Behiels (Paul Martin) is a professor of modern Canadian History at the University of Ottawa and is a former chair of its Department of History.
Dimitry Anastakis (Stephen Harper) is L.R. Wilson/R.J. Currie Chair in Canadian Business History at the Rotman School and the Department of History at the University of Toronto.
Jacques G. Ruelland (Justin Trudeau) taught philosophy at Collège Édouard-Montpetit and history at the University of Montreal. He is a museologist and has close to fifty books to his credit.