Archive for May, 2010

1969 — Ottawa’s National Arts Centre was a Centennial project launched by the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson. Boasting four theatres, the centre was built on a Rideau Canal property that was the site of a former Ottawa city hall.

Centennial celebrations are over for at least a year when the National Arts Centre is finally completed. Canada has a new Prime Minister, so it is Pierre Trudeau who opens the complex. Referring to the House of Commons, he notes that “after a few visits to the centre, we should be able to improve our own performances in that other publicly supported playhouse across the street.”


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1961 — Donald Fleming, Canada’s Finance minister, tells James Coyne that his contract as Governor of the Bank of Canada won’t be renewed. In fact, he says that the cabinet of the John Diefenbaker government wants Coyne to resign.

The Board of the Bank of Canada follows suit by formally requesting his resignation, but on June 13, Coyne refuses to do so. In the summer, the House of Commons passes a bill enforcing Coyne’s dismissal. It goes to the Senate where a committee rejects it. Coyne then resigns, indicating that the Senate’s action has vindicated his honour.

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1891 — Customs minister, Mackenzie Bowell visits his old friend and leader, Sir John A. Macdonald who is recuperating at his Earnscliffe home after suffering a stroke two days ago. Later in the day, Macdonald has a second, more severe stroke that paralyzes the right side of his body.

Neither man is in the Commons when the Liberals introduce a motion condemning Sir Charles Tupper for campaigning during the recent election while serving as Canada’s High Commissioner to London.

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1964 — Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson meets secretly with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in New York City. Some of the discussion at that meeting becomes public seven years later through the release of the Pentagon Papers.

A memo in the Papers indicates that Canada was likely aware of Johnson’s plan to bomb North Vietnam half a year before it actually happened. Pearson opposed the use of nuclear weapons generally but appeared to be okay with targeted punitive bombing strikes.

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1977 — Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife of six years, Margaret, agree to separate at her initiative. Two months earlier, Margaret decided to leave Trudeau for a 90-day trial separation. During that time she made news after seen partying with the Rolling Stones in Toronto.

As part of the permanent separation, a news release from Trudeau’s office indicates that Margaret “reliquishes all privileges as the wife of the prime minister and wishes to leave the marriage and pursue an independent career.”

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1973 — Montreal lawyer Brian Mulroney marries Mila Pivnicki, the daughter of Dimitrije and Bogdanka Pivnicki who emigrated from Yugoslavia in 1958.

Mulroney first met the Sir George Williams University student playing tennis at the Mount Royal Tennis Club. Although he was 15 years older than Mila, Mulroney introduced himself and asked her out.

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1882John Thompson was Premier of Nova Scotia for just 54 days in 1882. Like most of his political jobs, it was one he neither sought nor wanted. In fact, earlier this month, he had tendered his resignation as a member of the Nova Scotia Assembly.

But the unpopular premier, Simon Holmes, had just resigned and Thompson appeared to be the only viable alternative to lead the Conservatives to the polls. It isn’t enough to stem Tory unpopularity. Thompson’s government loses to the Liberals, while he hangs on to his own seat by a mere 63 votes.

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