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Archive for the ‘Abbott’ Category

July41873: Several Canadian newspapers publish a telegram sent by Sir John A. Macdonald during last year’s election campaign to CPR solicitor (and future Prime Minister) John Abbott begging for more campaign funds. “I must have another ten thousand,” urged Macdonald. “Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me.”

It isn’t a plea that can be misconstrued and turns out to be the smoking gun the Liberals have been looking for since the Pacific Scandal broke three months ago. The pressure will build and by year’s end Macdonald will avoid a non-confidence vote by resigning — the only Prime Minister ever to do so.

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mar121860: A legislative committee agrees to give the Quebec riding of Argenteuil to Conservative John Abbott. He lost the Province of Canada election two years earlier to fellow Conservative Sydney Bellingham by 200 votes, then promptly contested the result, accusing his opponent of bringing in voters who didn’t own property or live in the riding.

In the 1874 election, Abbott wins by four votes. His opponent, Liberal Lemuel Cushing succeeds in having the results declared void and wins the by-election. That, too, is voided and a second by-election is won by Thomas Christie. Abbott loses to Christie in the 1878 election, challenges the results and beats Christie in a by-election two years later. No surprise, that is also declared void. He wins an 1881 by-election by acclamation and Argenteuil’s history of challenged results and voided elections comes to an end.

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AbbottGraduating from  the University of McGill College in 1854 as a Bachelor of Civil Law, John Abbott later became the first Canadian Prime Minister with a university degree. He was typical of most of the country’s leaders who earned law degrees – 10 Prime Ministers in all.

Five PMs did not have a university degree (Macdonald, Mackenzie, Thompson, Bowell and Borden), while Mackenzie King had five.

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Twenty Prime Ministers in all have had their official portraits hung in the Centre Block. Only the two most recent — Paul Martin and Stephen Harper — await their turns.

There is no set schedule for determining when a Prime Minister will have his or her portrait painted and added to the collection. Two PMs — Sir John A. Macdonald and William Lyon Mackenzie King — had their portraits done while still in office. Two others — Sir John Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell — waited more than 100 years for their canvases to be done. Both were unveiled in 2002.

Only two artists have more than one portrait in the collection. John Wycliffe Lowes Forster painted Alexander Mackenzie and Sir John Thompson, while Kenneth Keith Forbes painted Sir Robert Borden and R.B. Bennett.

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There were three. Sir John Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell both served as Prime Minister while sitting in the Senate as that chamber’s government leader. Arthur Meighen became a Senator six years after his final term as PM. After sitting in the red chamber for a decade, he resigned so that he could again run for Parliament as the reinstalled Leader of the Conservative party. He lost the 1942 by-election and later that year  stepped down as party leader

R.B. Bennett didn’t sit in the Canadian Senate, but did acquire a seat in the British House of Lords after becoming Viscount Bennett.

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Only Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker served in the armed forces, as part of the Canadian Army in the First World War. Pearson was hit by a bus during a London air raid and sent home with leg wounds. Diefenbaker returned home after being hit in the back with a shovel while digging trenches in France.

Four early Prime Ministers served in the militia. Sir John A. Macdonald was called up to help quell the Rebellion of 1837, but saw no action. Sir John Abbott served in a volunteer regiment and later commanded the Argenteuil Rangers. Other members of the militia were Alexander Mackenzie and Mackenzie Bowell.

PMs who served as Canada’s militia or defence minister were Macdonald, Bowell and Kim Campbell.

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Five of the seven Prime Ministers still living are Roman Catholics. Although, historically, most Catholic leaders tended to be French Canadians, that profile began to disappear by the late 1970s. Of the five living Catholic PMs — Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin — only one is French Canadian.

For the record, we have had 9 Roman Catholics (the others are Thompson, Laurier, St. Laurent, Trudeau), 4 Anglicans (Abbott, Tupper, Borden, Campbell), 3 Presbyterians (Macdonald, Meighen, King), 3 Methodists/Uniteds (Bowell, Bennett, Pearson), 2 Baptists (Mackenzie, Diefenbaker), and 1 Christian & Missionary Alliance (Harper) in the Prime Minister’s office.

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