Posts Tagged ‘Lester B. Pearson’

Leadership and legacies.

Friday, July 17th, 2020

This was prodded by a reader. He asked me to search my mind for leaders of Canada’s federal parties and determine what I would consider their legacy to the country.

It was a somewhat disappointing search. While hardly a recent leader, I started with Sir John A. Macdonald. It is a rare person who can believe in a country and then make it happen. Sir John was hardly perfect and he left many problems for future generations. He gave our country a kick start.

The legacy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier is the essential difference between Canada and the United States. Sir Wilfrid was a thinker and he gave us the basis of the liberalism of Canada. He also established Canada as a country in its own right and the working relationship between Quebec and the rest of the country.

It was William Lyon Mackenzie King who established the basics of the country’s social welfare system. He might have been the quirkiest prime minister but he brought us through the Second World War.

I have a special place for Lester B. Pearson. The Auto Agreement that he put together with the United States was the forerunner of the Canada/U.S. free trade. And his two liberal minority governments were the hardest working and passed Canada’s Medicare, the Student Loan program, the Canada Pension Plan, our distinctive maple leaf flag and effectively abolished capital punishment.

I should also note that Mr. Pearson picked the man who followed him: Pierre Trudeau. Pierre’s legacy was his humour, his intellect and his honesty in office, as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His son Justin is not much like him.

The last prime minister on the list was handed his legacy by Pierre Trudeau’s Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Economic Prospects for Canada. It fell on Brian Mulroney to carry out free trade with the United States.

We have had five prime ministers since then. Can you name them all?

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