Canada has had a vibrant history of political leadership, with some of the most iconic Canadian Prime Ministers at the helm.
Over the years, numerous Canadian Prime Ministers have made significant contributions to making Canada a better place.
From Pierre Trudeau to Justin Trudeau, these Canadian Prime Ministers have made immense contributions to make Canada a better place for all its citizens.
From shaping Indian affairs to spearheading reformations in the Liberal Party or simply restoring public confidence in politics, these leaders have left an indelible mark on Canadian culture and politics.
Here are the 10 Best Canadian Prime Ministers
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at some of the best Canadian Prime Ministers.
We will explore their contribution to making Canada a more prosperous nation and how their legacies continue to shape our country today.
1. Sir John A. Macdonald (1867-1873, 1878-1891)
Founding father and first Prime Minister, he played a key role in creating the Canadian Confederation, unifying the country with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and implementing the National Policy.
Macdonald was instrumental in drafting the British North America Act, which would eventually create the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
His leadership contributed to the development of Canada’s government, economy, and infrastructure system.
2. Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911), One of the Canadian Prime Ministers
Serving as Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911. He supported policies that promoted economic growth, such as expanding railways across the country.
Laurier’s approach to foreign policy also allowed Canada to assert itself more independently within the British Empire.
Known for his compromise skills and policies that promoted trade, Laurier focused on developing natural resources.
Increasing economic prosperity while navigating between French and English Canada.
3. Robert Borden (1911-1920)
Sir Robert Laird Borden, a prominent figure in Canada, took over as Chancellor of Queen’s in 1924, succeeding Sir Edward Wentworth Beatty. From 1911 to 1920, Borden served as Canada’s prime minister, providing leadership during World War I and playing a crucial role in guiding the young nation toward greater autonomy from Britain.
Under his tenure, notable achievements included the introduction of income tax and women’s suffrage.
During World War I, Borden’s leadership was instrumental in securing Canada’s autonomy from Britain through participation in the Imperial War Cabinet.
Moreover, his administration successfully advocated for Canada to sign the Treaty of Versailles independently and secure a seat in the League of Nations, further solidifying its international presence.
Borden’s political career began when he was elected to Parliament in 1896, and by 1901, he had assumed leadership of his party.
As Leader of the Opposition, he championed the idea that political nominations should be based solely on merit, advocating for the elimination of cronyism within the government.
Furthermore, Borden recognized the importance of essential infrastructure for the country’s development.
He advocated for the government’s involvement in providing fundamental services such as electricity, telephone networks, and railroads.
These facilities were crucial for the nation’s progress.
4. William Lyon Mackenzie King (1921-1930, 1935-1948)
Mackenzie King, the longest-serving Canadian prime minister, exhibited astute leadership during critical periods such as World War II and the Great Depression.
Importantly, he recognized the paramountcy of occupying the political centre ground, understanding that it was vital for achieving and maintaining political success.
Furthermore, King believed in delicately balancing the needs of French and English Canada to foster true national unity within the country. Notably, his administration achieved a range of enduring social policy accomplishments.
First and foremost, King actively promoted Keynesian economics to mitigate the adverse effects of the Great Depression and successfully rebuild Canada’s economy after World War II.
Additionally, his tenure witnessed the establishment of a comprehensive national system of unemployment insurance in 1940, providing a vital safety net for Canadian workers.
Moreover, King’s government created several federal agencies tasked with addressing pressing societal needs, including housing, health, welfare, and veterans affairs.
These measures underscored King’s unwavering commitment to the well-being and welfare of the Canadian population.
By implementing these progressive policies, he sought to provide much-needed support and stability during economic hardship and elevate Canada’s overall quality of life.
5. Richard Bennett (1930-1935)
During the Great Depression, Bennett introduced a minimum wage and unemployment relief programs that would later expand under subsequent governments, playing an important role in stabilizing Canada’s economy.
6. Lester B. Pearson
Pearson served as Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968 and emerged as a strong advocate for peacekeeping efforts during his time at the United Nations before becoming Prime Minister.
Domestically, he achieved significant milestones by introducing universal healthcare and creating the Canada Pension Plan.
He contributed to the creation of NATO and the United Nations.
He was, of course, a key player in ending the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956.
He successfully presented the UN with the concept of a peacekeeping force that could be deployed with enough authority and firepower to deter warring parties while diplomats looked for a peaceful solution.
Several significant, albeit highly symbolic, contributions to the conversation about Canadian identity were made by Pearson.
First, and most significantly, he was in charge of starting the Flag Debate, which gave rise to the Maple Leaf flag, which replaced the Red Ensign.
The now-familiar red-and-white flag became the unanimous favourite among those who backed the concept of a new flag.
His preferred version, which had two blue borders on a white centre with three red maple leaves, was criticized as the “Pearson Pennant” and did not receive support.
7. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, One of the Canadian Prime Ministers
Pierre Trudeau was a charismatic leader who served as Canada’s prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.
His policies were instrumental in fostering Canadian unity and implementing progressive measures.
Moreover, Trudeau prioritized multiculturalism and bilingualism as crucial components of national cohesion.
He officially established French and English as federal languages by introducing official bilingualism.
In addition, he embraced multiculturalism as an official policy, recognizing and celebrating the diversity within Canada.
Furthermore, Trudeau’s influence extended to the realm of individual rights. He enacted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms through the Constitution Act of 1982.
Ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and liberties for all Canadians by these acts.
Trudeau’s tenure was characterized by strong economic growth alongside significant social change, as he spearheaded the modernization of Canadian society.
His progressive policies promoted inclusivity and safeguarded individual freedoms, leaving an indelible impact on the country.
8. John Diefenbaker
Born on September 18, 1895, in Neustadt, Ontario, and passing away on August 16, 1979, in Ottawa, Ontario, John George Diefenbaker served as Canada’s 13th prime minister from 1957 to 1963.
After his family settled on a small farm in Saskatchewan in 1903, he pursued education at the University of Saskatchewan following his secondary school in Saskatoon.
Subsequently, he returned to school and obtained a legal degree in 1919, commencing his legal career.
Diefenbaker’s political interest emerged early on, leading him to run for various positions, including the Saskatchewan legislature and the House of Commons.
However, despite his efforts, he consistently placed last in those contests.
It was not until 1940 that he was selected to serve in the House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party.
Prior to embarking on his political career, Diefenbaker worked as a dedicated defence attorney and advocate for civil rights.
Throughout his campaigns, he passionately championed the idea of “One Canada,” advocating for a unified nation where individuals were treated equally regardless of their religion, colour, or geography.
Diefenbaker’s impact extended beyond his time as prime minister. Holding the highest number of seats in the House of Commons, he secured a notable tenure as one of Canada’s lawmakers.
Noteworthy achievements during his tenure include promoting the Canadian Bill of Rights and appointing Canada’s first female cabinet minister.
Indigenous senator, welcoming the country’s first Chinese- and Ukrainian-Canadian members of parliament, and granting First Nations people the right to vote.
9. Justin Trudeau
The world took notice in 2015 as Trudeau marched up the driveway at Rideau Hall carrying the nation’s first-ever gender-balanced federal cabinet, which would include 15 men and 15 women.
Since making that initial move, the Liberals under Trudeau have worked to pass laws requiring pay parity in the federal sector, gender-neutralizing the national anthem.
Thus enshrining safeguards for transgender individuals in the law, and mandating gender-based analysis be done on significant legislation.
Immigration has been a major issue for the Liberals over the past four years, from taking in more than 40,000 Syrian refugees to the known “#Welcome to Canada” tweet.
Canada welcomed more refugees into its country in 2018 than any other nation.
10. Stephen Harper
He’ll be remembered as one of Canada’s most successful prime ministers in the country’s history.
It will be a legacy that will be highlighted by history.
He oversaw an administration that, in terms of domestic policy, was remarkably effective in keeping the country on course during the worst global recession since the Great Depression. He minimized taxes.
When there was a global credit crisis, he filled the spending pump, but when there was no longer a need for this kind of expenditure, he helped us get out of the deficit.
He did not experience the crises that other nations did.
In conclusion, Canada has been fortunate to have had several remarkable Prime Ministers throughout its history, each contributing to the development and progress of the nation in their own unique ways.
While it is challenging to determine the “best” Prime Minister of Canada, as it ultimately depends on individual perspectives and priorities, certain leaders have left a lasting impact on the country.
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