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Posts Tagged ‘John A. Macdonald’

July61885: The government of Sir John A. Macdonald passes the Dominion Franchise Act, moving the criteria for voting eligibility from the provinces to Ottawa. As a result, some groups who have had the vote in parts of the country – widows, spinsters and some indigenous groups – lose it.

Concern about letting indigenous peoples vote was heightened by the recent Northwest Rebellion in western Canada. The influence of British Columbia also ensured that ‘Asiatics’ and ‘Chinamen’ would be excluded. Many, but not enough, MPs were in favour of expanding voter eligibility. Macdonald was for the idea, but  unwilling to push for it. Opposition Leader Wilfrid Laurier objected to opening it up. In 1898, responsibility for eligibility will return to the provinces.

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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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MacdonaldIn 2004, three of Canada’s Prime Ministers made the 50 Most Important Leaders in History listed in the annual National Geographic Almanac of World History. Quite an achievement in a list that starts with the mythological first Chinese Emperor Fuxi (anywhere from 29,000 BCE to 12,000 BCE) and ends with South Africa’s Nelson Mandella.

The three Canadian leaders: Sir John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King and — are you ready? — Kim Campbell. See the whole list here.

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mar271865: John A. Macdonald mails a letter to the President of the Grand Trunk Railway, Edward Watkin, letting him know that the land west of Lake Superior “is of no present value to Canada”.

It’s a view that changes dramatically for him in the next few years. His vision of a Canada stretching to the Pacific Ocean pushes him to purchase the vast land holdings of the Hudson’s Bay Company from which he creates Manitoba. It also guides his determination to build a transcontinental railway, which closes the deal on British Columbia’s entry into Confederation.

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feb191877: Prayers are included in the House of Commons routine for the first time.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the initiative occurs during the government of Alexander Mackenzie, a devout Baptist. The Leader of the Opposition Sir John A. Macdonald, on the other hand, is an occasional Presbyterian – unless he attends church  with his Anglican wife Agnes.

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feb141860: John A. Macdonald, the Attorney General of Canada West, holds a huge Valentine’s Day party at the St. Louis Hotel in Quebec. Of the 1,000 people he invited, 800 turn out for the celebration, paying $1 each to mingle with the elite.

The best part of the evening for Macdonald is having his secretary’s sister, Agnes Bernard make an appearance. He first met her two years earlier in Toronto, but it will be another seven years before they marry.

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MackenzieNewspaper editors among past PMs were Alexander Mackenzie (Lambton Shield), Mackenzie Bowell (Belleville Intelligencer), Charles Tupper (British Colonist), and Wilfrid Laurier (Le Défricheur).

John A. Macdonald founded the Toronto Mail, William Lyon Mackenzie King edited the government’s Labour Gazette, Pierre Trudeau was heavily involved with Cité libre, Joe Clark wrote for the Albertan and various other publications, and John Turner edited his high school and university papers.

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