Friday, September 09, 2005

When Nation Builders Collide

For the third consecutive round, Pierre Trudeau finds himself in the most hotly contested battle. This time, John A. MacDonald is his opponent. While I skipped the profiles last weekend due to a labour day getaway, I'm pleased to profile the Trudeau/MacDonald clash today. Remember, you can vote once each day until Tuesday at noon.

Trudeau vs Macdonald

Famous Lines
PET: "Reason over Passion", "The State has no place in the bedroom of the nation", "Fuddle-Duddle"
John A: "The public prefers John A. drunk to George Brown sober",

Reader Comments
PET: "Hey, Macdonald pursued policies harmful to the west too (tariffs and all). At least Trudeau has the Charter going for him." - BlueGrit.
John A: "I'm not sure about Macdonald vs. Trudeau. The thing is, if you remember Sir John A.'s true record, the corruption in his government, and the principles he had... But I'll probably still pick him anyway. Major impact and all that." - The Tiger

Quotes About
PET: "In Pierre Trudeau, Canada has at last produced a political leader worthy of assassination." -Irving Layton
John A: "Every succeeding prime minister has to be matched against John A. and only a few stand the comparison...Several of them have been better humans than Macdonald, none has been greater." -Gordon Donaldson

Crowning Glory
PET: Charter of Rights and Freedoms, winning the Referendum
John A: Birth of the nation, CPR

Infamous For...
John A: CPR scandal

PET: The War Measures Act
John A: The hanging of Louis Riel

Lost One Election...
PET: To Joe Clark?
John A: To Alexander Mackenzie?

Bastards and Boneheads Ranking
PET: Bastard Maximus Supremos: "He was never intimidated by anyone. He could have stared down Medusa herself. Shrill provincial premiers, rock-throwing hooligans, angry-voiced Albertans, rabble-rousing separatists: no one was able to shake him. Almost singlehandedly, he moulded the image of Canada into the type of nation he wanted it to become: bilingual, rational, just society based on the ideals of freedom and individual autonomy. In other words, a country just like him."
John A: A Bastard,Through and Through: "He took bribes. He drank too much. He wrapped himself in the British flag. And when all is said and done, he built this nation of ours. 'You'll never die John A!' the crowds yelled. 'You'll never die!'. And they were right."

Before and After
PET: Made dramatic changes to the criminal code as Justice Minister to modernize Canadian law. Killed Meech following his retirement.
John A: Helped orchestrate the coalition which brought Canada together.

For More Info
Cerberus has some good background here. And, of course, there's always Wikipedia: PET, John A.


  • MacDonald pursued policies harmful to the West? I suppose that would be the railroad.

    By Blogger Simon Pole, at 8:51 p.m.  

  • Well, the tarrif was never very popular in the West since it's intent was to help Ontario business.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:01 p.m.  

  • The simple fact is that Trudeau can't compare to MacDonald, for the exact reasons that Ferguson writes in Bastards and Boneheads- without Trudeau, Canada would exist. He changed it, but it would exist. Without MacDonald, in all likelihood that pipedream of a railroad never would have happened, and BC and Alberta would be in the US.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 a.m.  

  • When assessing historical significance the argument that X is greater than Y because X preceded Y is a non-sequitur because it can always be trumped by W preceded X and so on.

    So if Macdonald had not put the country together, Trudeau would not have had a country to reform. So what? If Baldwin, Lafontaine, Howe and the rest of the boys hadn't created the pieces, they wouldn't have existed for Macdonald to bring together.

    But if there hand't been governors like Simcoe and Carleton and Durham the work of Baldwin et al. would have been completely different or non-existant.

    Just keep following the argument back to Cartier and Hudson, then Elizabeth I, then Magna Carta and the Norman invasion etc. etc.

    If one is going to engage in the excercise of judging 'historical significance,' or whatever one want to call it, one has to try to do so on an objective standard of contemporay impact.

    Otherwise you may as well give credit to that first homo sapien who walked up-right and leave it at that.

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