Friday, July 07, 2006

What If Politics

Judging from the feedback, I’ve decided to follow up last year’s “Greatest Prime Minister” contest with a “Greatest Prime Minister…We Never Had”. The question is simple “Which politician who never rose to the highest office would have made for our finest Prime Minister?”.

I’m still toying around with format, but I suspect there will be an open round with four groups (likely geographic regions), to narrow the field down to eight. At that point, the candidates will be bracketed and will face off one-on-one in knock out matches until a winner is crowned.

Unlike with Greatest PM, the field is close to infinite here so I’m opening the floor up for nominations. Below are a few of the candidates who I think should be included; any other suggestions will be added to the list for first round. So let's hear some names of who you think would have made for a great Prime Minister if given the chance.

Robert Stanfield
Joey Smallwood
Frank McKenna
John Crosbie
Joseph Howe
Allan MacEachen
George Murray
Jean Lesage
George Etienne Cartier
Ernest Lapointe
Rene Levesque
Lucien Bouchard
Ed Broadbent
Mitchell Sharp
Paul Martin Sr.
CD Howe
Oliver Mowat
Bill Davis
David Lewis
Agnes McPhail
Flora MacDonald
John Manley
Sheila Copps
John Bracken
Preston Manning
Tommy Douglas
JS Woodsworth
HH Stevens
Lloyd Axworthy
Peter Lougheed
Ernest Manning
Nellie McClung


  • John Manley. Ace in Industry, perfect in Foreign Affairs (especially after 9/11), and delivered a very strong budget in Finance.

    He also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister responsible for Crown Corporations, and the cabinet-level economic development portfolios for Quebec, Western Canada, and Atlantic Canada.

    By Blogger JP, at 12:55 a.m.  

  • I nominate Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    I also nominate Stephen Lewis, the Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

    By Blogger robedger, at 1:26 a.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger The Frog Lady, at 1:54 a.m.  

  • I've got three nominees:
    1) Dalton Camp - the only guy in the Tory party with the guts to bring down Dief. Unfortunately, Conservatives try to avoid choosing leaders with an IQ above room temperature, which ruled him out permanently.
    2) John Morgan (better known as "Mike from Canmore") was hilarious on Air Farce (back when Air Farce was actually funny.) I think he'd have been a fun PM.
    3) Jack Pickersgill. Oxford-educated. Former Clerk of the Privy Council. Advisor to PMs from Mackenzie King to Pearson. He certainly had the brains for the job. Heck, Pearson even gave him the title "Rt. Honourable." What does that tell ya?

    Great idea, BTW - look forward to seein' the results!

    By Blogger The Frog Lady, at 1:58 a.m.  

  • 1. Samuel Tilley
    2. Ernest Lapointe
    3. Henri Bourassa
    4. OD Skelton

    By Blogger Political Nobody, at 2:44 a.m.  

  • I would probably say Bill Davis here. Although a Tory, he was a consensus builder rather than a divisive type so I think he would have been a good leader to unite the country. Some other names you might want to consider adding although I don't necessarily endorse these are:

    1. Mike Harris
    2. Ralph Klein
    3. Jean Charest
    4. Frank McKenna
    5. Sheila Copps
    6. Rene Levesque (If you could name Bouchard you could put him on as well)
    7. Clyde Wells
    8. Elijah Harper (he was one of the ones who helped kill the Meech Lake Accord)

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 3:04 a.m.  

  • Henri Bourassa... very interesting thought.

    By Blogger Dan McKenzie, at 3:21 a.m.  

  • Just out of curiousity, why has no one named George Brown?

    The guy did propose the co-alition government that gave us our first Parliament.

    By Blogger TrustOnlyMulder, at 6:21 a.m.  

  • Interesting to see Lesage on the list. I remember reading once that various federal Liberals encouraged him to jump to the national scene at different times, but he didn't have the stomach for it. One glaring omission: Jean Marchand. The legendary leader of the Asbestos Strike was widely considered Pearson's heir in '68, but his poor English opened a path for PET.

    By Blogger Michael, at 6:36 a.m.  

  • I'll second the suggestions of Elija Harper and George Brown.

    I'd add Frank R. Scott and Thomas Darcy McGee.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 7:58 a.m.  

  • Here are mine....

    Roy Romanow
    Gary Filmon
    John Murney

    By Blogger tobefair, at 8:25 a.m.  

  • Just for fun: Stockwell Day.

    By Blogger RGM, at 8:33 a.m.  

  • Donald MacDonald was a minister in the TRudeau cabinets of the early 70's.

    He was well respected and very competent in several cabinet portfolios.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L.A., at 9:00 a.m.  

  • Former Ontario premier, and federal Liberal Leader Edward Blake, the only man to be offered the Prime Ministership, and turn it down.

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 9:11 a.m.  

  • Don't count Jean Charest out yet. He will be done in Québec by next year if he loses the prov. election or in 3-4 years if he wins it.

    Give him a few years of rest and some time on the treadmill to regain his former shape, and he suddenly becomes a very strong candidate to recapture the federal seat of Sherbrooke as a Conservative.

    By Blogger Draft Winston Chan, at 11:21 a.m.  

  • One question on ground rules...

    Are we considering how nominees would perform in our time or in their own? For example - in considering Louis Riel, should I base my vote on how his leadership would have impacted Canada in 1880 or how it would impact Canada today?

    My preference would be to use the modern context, as this would allow for better head-to-head comparisons and also for consideration of leaders (Moses?) whose lives pre-date confedration.

    By Blogger pan-canadian, at 11:22 a.m.  

  • Anyway, onto my suggested list:

    - John Crosbie
    - Brian Tobin
    - Joe Volpe (ha ha)
    - Ed Broadbent
    - Bret "The Hitman" Hart
    - Barbara MacDougall
    - Deborah Grey
    - Pierre Marchand
    - Wayne Gretzky

    By Blogger Draft Winston Chan, at 11:25 a.m.  

  • 1. Ernest Lapointe
    2. Joe Ghiz
    3. James Gardiner

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:42 a.m.  

  • Preston Manning is the best Premier that Alberta never had.

    I also think he would have made a great PM.

    By Blogger Sean, at 11:52 a.m.  

  • I would definitely second the nomination of Brian Tobin, but I would question your judgement at recommending Mr. Gretzky. Although nobody would question his athletic credentials, Wayne is quite far to the right politically (of course, being the smart guy that he is, usually keeps those things to himself.) He is, however, quoted in today's Globe as saying that "I happen to think that [Bush] is a wonderful man and he believes what he is doing in Iraq is right, I back him 100 per cent." (pg A2 in the last quarter of MacGregor's column). Definitely not the kind of thing I would want to hear from a politician in this country.

    By Blogger electgerardkennedy, at 12:02 p.m.  

  • I'm still on the fence about the non-politicos like Gretzky and Brett Hart and I would lean against including them. Of course, with the "Michael Ignatieff precedence" maybe it's not as far fetched as some might have thought. At the very least backroom boys like Dalton Camp and policy people like Jack Pickersgill certainly deserve inclusion, even though I forgot them in my main list.

    For the time being, I think Charest and Stock should be left off, just because they're young enough that they could still rise to the top. People like Manley and McKenna have pretty much ruled it out with their pass at the current leadership so I don't mind including them.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:09 p.m.  

  • Eddie Goldenberg!

    But then he sort of "was" prime minister.

    Actually, why did Eddie put up Bob Rae instead of himself? Bob Rae can't possibly win. If Goldenberg wants to be PM "again", maybe he should stop playing the puppetmaster.

    By Blogger godot10, at 1:15 p.m.  

  • Also...remember most everyone thought Paul Martin was the greatest prime minister we never had for the longest time.

    By Blogger godot10, at 1:19 p.m.  

  • ROBERT STANFIELD . . . we would have avoided the disasterous, marxist PET.
    His disasterous WAGE AND PRICE CONTROLS, HIS NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY (when he bought oil companies from his friends for billions that were worth millions), HIS SOCIALIST IDEALS that created enormous inflation and national debt in the 70's.
    Stanfield was an intelligent businessman, would have run a much better ship and we would be benefiting today had Canadians elected him.
    Instead we went for Charisma!!! The LPC hired my girl friends to jump up and down and cheer for Pierre and the rest is history.

    By Blogger EX-NDIP, at 1:20 p.m.  

  • Here's a few Man/Sask. Suggestions

    Gary Doer
    Roy Romonow
    Gary Filmon
    Lloyd Axworthy
    Izzy Asper
    Duff Roblin
    Reg Alcock (HA!)

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 1:36 p.m.  

  • McKenzie King's grandmother.

    By Blogger FRANCISM, at 2:05 p.m.  

  • Rock????

    By Blogger TDH Strategies, at 2:13 p.m.  

  • If we are going to be tossing around silly choices like Rock, Manley and Tobin, we might as well through Copps in the mix as well.

    Maybe they need their own sub-pool of "ex-Chertien Ministers that somehow thought they could be Prime Minister"

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 2:17 p.m.  

  • Allan MacEachen, Marc Lalonde

    By Blogger SteelCityGrit, at 2:17 p.m.  

  • Technically, John Manley could still be PM some day. Should we restrict it to people who are either deceased/finished their political careers?

    If not, I nominate both Mike Harris and Bernard Lord.

    By Blogger Toronto Tory, at 2:26 p.m.  

  • TT; Mike Harris is in his 60s, so we can probably safely add him to the list. Lord I'd rather not since he could certainly still make a leadership run. The problem with looking for "retired" policians is that the comeback is a very common occurence in Canadian politics. We would have assumed Bob Rae's political career was done a year or two ago.

    I think the best bet is to go on a case by case basis and not include anyone who still has an outside chance of becoming PM.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:54 p.m.  

  • The fact you would even include an intellectual lightweight like Sheila copps pretty much indicates this is not a serious posting.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 4:12 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Christopher Young, at 4:23 p.m.  

  • Hum, maybe too little known outside Quebec (or even inside), but what about Geroge-Émile Lapalme ?

    By Blogger Christopher Young, at 4:26 p.m.  

  • james; I certainly wouldn't pick Sheila as the winner, but as a 20 year politician who has run for 3 leaderships and was a former Deputy PM, she's certainly worthy of being included on the nomination list.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:27 p.m.  

  • As a western Manitoban, I'm impressed you've even heard of John Bracken, let alone thrown him on your list. But if you're going to toss his name in, you also have to go with Sir Clifford Sifton — Laurier's Western right-hand man and architect of the plan to bring thousands of people to settle Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba before Uncle Sam snatched it.

    I'd also nominate Duff Roblin and Ed Schreyer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:12 p.m.  

  • Definitely think this team should be on there:

    -Roy Romanow
    -Alexa McDonough
    -Audrey McLaughlin
    -Stephen Lewis
    -Ed Broadbent
    -David Lewis
    -Tommy Douglas
    -J.S. Woodsworth

    Since ya know, dippers are always the best leaders we never had...for now. ;)

    By Blogger bza, at 8:01 p.m.  

  • CalgaryGrit,

    A premier unlike any other. Stepped up to the plate and started the Conservative legacy in Alberta that has now resulted in an Albertan at 24 Sussex. Peter Lougheed. The reason Alberta has no sales tax and the first politician I ever met.


    By Blogger Peter, at 8:59 p.m.  

  • I'll nominate The Rgt. Hon. Don Mazankowski.

    By Blogger TMS, at 9:57 p.m.  

  • Preston Manning and Oliver Mowat.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 12:26 a.m.  

  • oh, forgot to mention dave barrett and Major James Coldwell to round out the dipper lineup.

    By Blogger bza, at 1:01 a.m.  

  • CG wrote:
    "james; I certainly wouldn't pick Sheila as the winner, but as a 20 year politician who has run for 3 leaderships and was a former Deputy PM, she's certainly worthy of being included on the nomination list."

    CG...since when does longevity indicate competence? You yourself state you wouldn't pick her as a winner, so why did you pick her for the list. If you want to really know who most would think would have been a great PM...then narrow your list down to people who you think have what it takes to be one. Forget the "nostalgia" of long time Liberals or other politicians.....and focus on the competent ones.

    Look at Harper.....he had no experience, and he's wiping the floor with you guys because he's competent....intelligent, and people who actually listen to what he says understand he is also honest.

    If we're going to try and discuss the lost talent we have missed...stick to people who had/have actually talent, not just longevity.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 1:22 a.m.  

  • A little short on BC content, I think. Here're a few off the top of my head:

    Dippers-in-chief Mike Harcourt and Dave Barrett might've had interesting high-level federal careers, particularly if the latter had won the federal NDP leadership rather than McLaughlin.

    The mind wilts at what shenanigans W.A.C. Bennett might've gotten up to on a national stage. Might the man who tried and failed to build a monorail to the Yukon have succeeded with a federal budget behind him?

    Larry Campbell. It might have let CBC make "Da Vinci's PMO." Seriously, though, fascinating character, brilliant man.

    For shits and giggles, we could throw Bill Vander Zalm or Glen Clark into the mix. Are we trying to have the most high-powered ladder, or the most entertaining one?

    Other half-joking half-serious nominees might include Bill Aberhart, Paul Hellyer and Maurice Duplessis. I mean, they were conceivable, right?

    By Blogger Tom, at 12:49 p.m.  

  • Definitely Stephen Lewis.

    By Blogger Wendy, at 1:14 p.m.  

  • Definitely Stephen Lewis.

    By Blogger Wendy, at 1:14 p.m.  

  • Stockwell Day!!!!

    By Blogger daveberta, at 2:27 p.m.  

  • Maurice Duplessis

    By Blogger Michael, at 5:05 p.m.  

  • tom; I was planning to toss Hellyer and a few other "joke" candidates in.

    Stockwell, I'm still on the fence about because, from age alone, he'd be too young to proclaim that he can never be Prime Minister. But that's a pretty safe bet at this point.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 7:20 p.m.  

  • I'm not sure if you had him on the list but what about Robert Winters? As i recall he almost beat Trudeau at the convention that picked Trudeau to be Prime Minister. Considering he had a totally different agenda its an interesting what if?

    By Blogger Chris, at 8:04 p.m.  

  • I have one name for you... WARREN KINSELLA!!!

    Seriously, my vote goes to Preston Manning... he'd have made a great PM.

    By Blogger Christian Conservative, at 10:02 p.m.  

  • Sorry to flood this post with comments, but yeah, MJ Coldwell should definitely be on this list. The CCF's popularity was pretty massive in the 40's.

    There was even a gallups poll in 1943 that put the CCF (29%) ahead of the Liberals (28%), and the Conservatives (27%). Things could have turned out different, this was the first victory of the CCF in Sask and in Ontario they were the official opposition. Even the Conservative leader was defeated in a federal by-election.

    By Blogger bza, at 11:28 p.m.  

  • Tommy freakin' Douglas. Gimme a break. A drunken fascist who stole the "medicare" idea from the 17 (?) other countries that did it first. Loser.

    By Blogger Dave, at 3:09 a.m.  

  • Angus MacLean.

    Making It Home: Memoirs of the Honourable J. Angus MacLean

    If you can get your hands on a copy of this book you'll find that it's a very worthwhile read.

    By Blogger Paul MacPhail, at 4:14 p.m.  

  • I can not believe ha this does not have Ralph Klein but it has Sheila Copps and Lloyd Axworthy.

    By Blogger Brad, at 4:59 p.m.  

  • I nominate the great and often forgotten ADÉLARD GODBOUT.

    Not well known outside of La Belle Province, this Liberal Québec Premier (1939-1944) gave women the right to vote, started the nationalization of hydro power and instituted mandatory education for Québec kids. No small task in 1940's Québec.

    Mackenzie King wanted HIM to go to Ottawa to succeed Ernest Lapointe; when Godbout refused, King turned to Louis St-Laurent.

    Godbout also had the rare distinction of not being a lawyer...

    By Blogger Alter Boys, at 12:42 a.m.  

  • Bracken is really well known in Tory circles, especially among the former PC types (like me), for the Progressive party connection.

    By Blogger Toronto Tory, at 12:12 p.m.  

  • Interesting choices.

    I should have this up and running sometime next week but feel free to keep e-mailing in suggestions to be included.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:40 p.m.  

  • No Roy Romanow. Shame.

    By Blogger Shaky, at 8:59 p.m.  

  • Hands down, Romeo Dallaire is a must!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:25 p.m.  

  • Deb Grey!

    You have to admire her tenacity in helping to bring down Stockwell Day. Look at the result!

    By Blogger Hatrock, at 3:55 p.m.  

  • I have two nominees to recommend:

    Gordon Tootoosis
    Pierre Berton

    By Blogger Chet, at 4:39 p.m.  

  • Edward Blake.
    Oliver Mowat.
    David Real Caouette.
    Joseph Adolphe Chapleau.
    Henri Bourassa.
    Daniel Johnson.
    Preston Manning.
    Ernest Manning.
    Adelard Godbout.
    Maurice Duplessis.

    By Blogger Jarrett, at 11:58 p.m.  

  • Finance Minister Paul Martin Jr.


    By Blogger Alan, at 10:56 a.m.  

  • Talbot Mercer Papineau should win this pool hands-down if anyone knows their Canadian history.

    By Blogger Ned Noodle, at 11:15 a.m.  

  • Do you know something about Mr. Manley that we don't or do you have the power of clairvoyance?

    By Blogger scott, at 5:27 p.m.  

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