Canada is one of the wealthiest countries and most powerful countries in the world. Renowned for its untouched natural beauty, Canada also snags a spot as a major tourist destination. But this country, like Rome, was not built in a day. It has taken the leadership of several notable individuals to bring Canada to where it is today.
Here are seven best Canadian prime ministers who helped make the Great White North great:
1. Sir John Alexander Macdonald
Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada. He was born in Scotland. When he was a boy, his family immigrated to Kingston, Ontario. He was a lawyer, politician, and a businessman. He was elected as prime minister twice (1867-1873 and 1878-1891).
During his first administration, he became known as a “Nation Builder.” Under his first administration, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia became part of the original Confederation. In his second term, he introduced the National Policy, a system that protected products that were manufactured in Canada by imposing high tariffs on foreign imports, especially products coming from the United States.
2. Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a lawyer, journalist, and politician. He was born in Québec and practiced law in Montréal. He was elected as Canada’s prime minister from 1896-1911. Laurier fervently promoted national unity at a time of worsening cultural conflict. He strongly supported the development and expansion of Canada and encouraged immigration to Western Canada. He supported the construction of a transcontinental railway and oversaw the inclusion of Alberta and Saskatchewan as provinces.
Laurier believed that Canada should be free from British rule in the future. Guided by this belief, he resisted the effort expended by the British who were moving towards centralizing economic, military, and political control of its empire.
3. William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King was born in Berlin, Ontario. He served as the prime minister of Canada from 1921-1930, and from 1935-1948. Like his predecessor, Wilfrid Laurier, King was a member of the Liberal Party. King strongly advocated for Canadian autonomy in relations with the British. He contributed to the definition of the status of “dominions.” This led to the British dominions being defined and recognized as autonomous by members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
After World War II, King introduced unemployment insurance in Canada. He also led a reconstruction program that was based on Keynesian Economics, which included policies on family allowances and health insurance.
4. Louis St. Laurent
Louis Stephen St. Laurent was a lawyer and politician. He was born to a poor family in Québec; but he grew up to become a prominent corporation lawyer and even served as the head of the Québec Bar and as the president of the Canadian Bar Association. He was the prime minister of Canada from 1948-1977.
Some of the most important events of his administration include:
● The enactment of hospital insurance
● The addition of Newfoundland into the Confederation
● The participation of Canada in the Korean War
● The approval of provincial equalization payments
● The extension of old-age pensions
5. John George Diefenbaker
John George Diefenbaker lived in Saskatchewan with his family. He studied in the University of Saskatchewan. After serving in the army during World War I, he completed his law degree. He first practiced in Wakaw, but eventually moved to Prince Albert.
Diefenbaker was a renowned defence lawyer. He served as Canada’s 13th prime minister from 1957-1963. He was determined to grant civil rights to everyone, which eventually led to the Canadian Bill of Rights.
6. Pierre Elliot Trudeau
Pierre Elliot Trudeau was born to an affluent family in Montréal. He received his law degree from the University of Montréal, and practiced law for 10 years. He specialized in civil liberties and labour cases. As Justice Minister and Attorney General, he famously commented that, “There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Trudeau served as the prime minister of Canada from 1968-1979, and again from 1980-1984. During his term, diplomatic relations with China were established and relations with France was greatly improved. His administration was also marked by the following:
● Constitutional independence from the British Parliament
● Defeat of the French separatist movement
● Formulation of a new constitution
● Additions to the bill of rights
7. Justin Pierre James Trudeau
Justin Pierre James Trudeau was born in Ottawa. He is the son of the late Pierre Trudeau. Since he was born, the younger Trudeau has been exposed to the world of politics. He pursued a degree in education and spent much of his younger years working as a teacher, nightclub bouncer, radio host, and a snowboard and white water rafting instructor.
Justin Trudeau is the current prime minister of Canada (as of 2018). He has gained a remarkable reputation, earning the admiration of many people around the world. So far, the accomplishments of his administration include:
● The reintroduction of the Interim Federal Health Program
● Granted more leave time for those who need to care for sick family members
● Lowered the taxes on the middle class
● Allowed government scientists to speak openly to the media about their work
● Created the first gender-balanced Cabinet in the history of the country
There are many great men who contributed to the development of Canada. Under the leadership of the current prime minister and those to succeed him, Canada may continue as one of the world’s superpowers.