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Archive for May, 2016

may241879: For the second time, former prime minister Alexander Mackenzie refuses a knighthood offered by Queen Victoria. And just in case you think he wasn’t serious about rejecting a peerage offered by Britain, he’ll turn down the offer a third time in two years.

Not all politicians feel the same about the honour. On this very same day, the ‘Sir’ designation is gratefully received by Charles Tupper, Minister of Railways & Canals. In 1895, he’ll become Prime Minister for two months.

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ChretienIt helps to have thick skin if you’re contemplating serving as Prime Minister of Canada. One only has to look at the many books about recent leaders that take a negative — even hostile — stance. In fact, in the past 50 years the number of diatribes about PMs has kept pace with the number of dispassionate biographies.

Here’s a sampling:

  • His Pride, Our Fall: Recovering from the Trudeau Revolution 
  • Breaking Faith: The Mulroney Legacy of Deceit, Destruction and Disunity
  • Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal
  • Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?
  • Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is Remaking Canada by Stealth

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may211964: The cabinet of Lester Pearson approves his favoured design for a Canadian national flag. It’s three red maple leaves flanked by blue vertical bars. But his proposed flag is about to get a very rough ride.

The opposition leader, John Diefenbaker, is adamantly against it, as are many members of the Canadian Legion. By the fall, the flag design will have morphed into one red leaf between two red bars. A marathon flag debate in the House of Commons in December will result in the revised flag’s adoption.

PearsonPennant

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may191909: The federal departments of the Postmaster General and Labour become separate jurisdictions. In making the change, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier needs a new minister responsible for labour. He taps MP William Lyon Mackenzie King for the post.

Of course, it is all by design. Knowing the previous fall that the department would acquire stand-alone status, Mackenzie King stepped down as Deputy Minister of Labour and ran successfully as a Liberal candidate in the federal election of October 26, 1908.

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