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Today in History (August)


1897 – Sir William Fielding brings in a heavy tariff, but with reciprocal provisions

1946 – Harry Truman establishes Atomic Energy Commission

1952 – William Bennett sworn in as British Columbia’s 25th Premier

1972 – Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein have their first Watergate article published


HAPPY BIRTHDAY Bob Rae, 21st Ontario Premier, Liberal Party of Canada leader

1782 – George Washington creates honorary Badge of Distinction

1864 – Thomas D’Arcy McGee organizes goodwill tour of Atlantic Canada to promote Confederation

1909 – Abraham Lincoln pennies first minted

1943 – John Kennedy’s PT-boat 109 sinks at Solomon Islands

1945 – Harry Truman ends Potsdam Conference with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin

1961 – Leslie Frost resigns as Ontario Premier

1969 – Richard Nixon visits Romania

1988 – Joe Clark lights candle at Rekindle the Light Festival protesting apartheid

1990 – George H. W. Bush orders troops to Saudi Arabia

2005 – Paul Martin appoints 5 new Senators


HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lord Aberdeen, 7th Governor General of Canada

1863 – Abraham Lincoln asked to suspend draft in New York
1923 – Baseball games cancelled to honour the death of Warren Harding
1948 – Franklin Roosevelt advisor Alger Hiss accused of being a Communist
1961 – Tommy Douglas elected leader of New Democratic Party
1981 – Ronald Reagan gives striking air traffic controllers 48 hours to get back to work
2001 – George W. Bush signs the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act Extension Act into law
2005 – Paul Martin announces Michaelle Jean as Canada’s new Governor General
2015 – Barack Obama unveils his Clean Power Plan
2015 – Barack Obama gives Isabel Allende the US Presidential Medal of Freedom
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
1753 – George Washington becomes a Master Mason
1943 – George Drew and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party win election
1955 – Dwight Eisenhower authorizes money for building new CIA headquarters
1960 – John Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights approved by Parliament
1977 – Jimmy Carter establishes Department of Energy
1991 – Robert Bourassa re-joins constitutional talks
2009 – Bill Clinton meets with Kim Jong-il
1861 – Abraham Lincoln signs the first federal income tax, 3%, into law
1919 – William Lyon Mackenzie King elected leader of Liberal Party
1960 – Arthur Meighen passes away
1974 – Richard Nixon admits he withheld information about Watergate break-in
1981 – Ronald Reagan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers
2003 – John Hamm and the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party are re-elected
2004 – Bill Clinton has a book signing in Toronto
2014 – Barack Obama signs the Iron Dome Bill, providing military aid to Israel
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lord Lorne, 9th Duke of Argyle, 4th Governor General of Canada
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Paul Hellyer, former Liberal cabinet minister
1858 – John A. Macdonald-George-Etienne Cartier government resigns for one day
1930 – William Lyon Mackenzie King resigns as Prime Minister
1965 – Lyndon Johnson signs Voting Rights Act
1986 – Bill Vander Zalm sworn in as British Columbia’s 28th Premier
1991 – Jean Charest announces new Aulavik National Park
1991 – Bob Rae recognizes First Nations right to self government
1996 – Bill Clinton imposes sanctions on non US companies investing in Libya and Iran
2002 – Joe Clark announces resignation as leader of Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
1782 – George Washington creates the Purple Heart
1858 – George-Etienne Cartier adopts confederation as part of party platform
1858 – John A. Macdonald-George-Etienne Cartier ministry re-sworn in after one day resignation
1865 – Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau joins John A. Macdonald’s ministry as co-premier
1867 – Sir John A. Macdonald begins campaigning in first post-confederation election
1929 – William Lyon Mackenzie King dedicates Peace Bridge
1930 – Richard Bennett invited to form a government
1948 – Louis St. Laurent wins leadership of Liberal Party
1959 – Abraham Lincoln Memorial penny goes into circulation
1975 – Pierre Trudeau announces intent to set up 200 mile economic coastal zone
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Joan Mondale, wife of former Vice-President
1922 – John Bracken sworn in as Manitoba’s 11th Premier
1944 – Maurice Duplessis and the Union National win Quebec election
1945 – Harry Truman signs UN Charter
1968 – Richard Nixon nominated for President by Republicans
1973 – Spiro Agnew denies that he took kick backs from contracts while in Maryland
1974 – Richard Nixon announces he will resign at “noon tomorrow”
1982 – Pierre Trudeau gives one finger salute to protesters
1987 – Pierre Trudeau attends wedding of Rene Simard and Marie-Joseph Taillefer
1996 – Jean Chretien appoints a former Prime Minister as Canadian consul general in Los Angeles
1996 – Kim Campbell named as Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles
1996 – Jean Chretien appoints Jean-Louis Roux as Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
2005 – George W. Bush’s Energy Policy Act is passed by Congress calling the oil sands a strategic continental resource
2013 – Barack Obama names Ben Bradlee as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jacques Parizeau , 26th Quebec Premier
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Gomery, headed commission investigating sponsorship scandal
1870 – George-Etienne Cartier negotiates Imperial Loan Act for Canadian defences
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt meets with Winston Churchill in Newfoundland
1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency
1974 – Gerald Ford sworn in as President
1988 – Peter Pocklington trades Wayne Gretzky
2001 – George W. Bush announces federal funding for research of embryonic stem cells
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Herbert Hoover, 34th US President
1838 – Crown disallows Lord Durham’s ordinance banishing rebels without trial
1891 – Hector Langevin retires
1910 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier drives the first spike on the Alberta Central Railway
1921 – Franklin Roosevelt stricken with polio
1935 – John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, appointed Governor General of Canada
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill hold second meeting in Newfoundland
1953 – Louis St. Laurent and the Liberal Party win election
1960 – John Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights becomes law
1963 – Estes Kefauver passes away
1981 – Richard Nixon library in San Clemente closes
1996 – Jack Kemp announced as Republican Vice-Presidential candidate
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Alexa McDonough, former leader New Democratic Party of Canada, Nova Scotia NDP
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King welcomes Winston Churchill and US President to Quebec Conference
1943 – Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to Quebec Conference by Canadian Prime Minister
1984 – Ronald Reagan says signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes
1997 – Jean Chretien warns Quebec Premier about the partitioning of Quebec
1997 – Lucien Bouchard warned by the Prime Minister about the partitioning of Quebec
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Roy Romanow, 12th Saskatchewan Premier
1919 – The Prince of Wales arrives in St. John’s on official visit
1955 – Dwight Eisenhower raises minimum wage to $1.00 an hour
1986 – Brian Mulroney & Premiers agree that Quebec be subject of constitutional talks
1992 – Michael Wilson signs NAFTA
2015 – Jimmy Carter reveals he has cancer
1863 – George-Etienne Cartier’s Militia Act includes all males aged 18-60
1868 – Wilfrid Laurier marries Zoe Lafontaine
1886 – Sir John A. Macdonald drives in last spike of Esquimault-Naniamo railway in BC
1950 – Harry Truman gives military aid to Bao-Dai regime in Vietnam
1953 – Dwight Eisenhower establishes Government Contract Compliance Committee
1990 – Gilles Duceppe wins by-election becoming first elected Bloc Quebecois MP
1991 – Dan Quayle makes speech attacking lawyers
1992 – Donald Cameron announces that Nova Scotia Power Corp. is fully privatized
1862 – Abraham Lincoln receives first group of Blacks to confer with US President
1914 – Richard Bennett financed Princess Patricia’s Own Light Infantry leave for European front
1937 – William Lyon Mackenzie King sets up Rowell-Sirois Commission
1941 – Franklin Roosevelt & Winston Churchill sign Atlantic Charter
1942 – Dwight Eisenhower named commander for invasion of North Africa
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King opens Quebec conference
1974 – Robert Stanfield announces resignation as PC Party leader
1980 – Jimmy Carter officially re-nominated for President by Democrats
2007 – Stephen Harper announces a new cabinet
1861 – Abraham Lincoln sends reinforcements to Missouri
1881 – Sir John A. Macdonald’s Act to Provide for the Extension of the Boundaries of the Province of Manitoba comes into effect
1930 – William Lyon Mackenzie King urged to accept Rowell-Sirois recommendations
1971 – Richard Nixon announces 90 day freeze on wage & prices
1986 – Ronald Reagan supports replacement for Challenger space shuttle
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Arthur Meighen, 9th Prime Minister of Canada
1861 – Abraham Lincoln bans trade with Confederacy
1910 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier opens first Pacific National Exhibition
1913 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier greeted by 10 000 in St-Hyacinthe
1956 – Adlai Stevenson nominated for president by Democratic Party
1979 – John Diefenbaker passes away
1991 – George H. W. Bush declares that recession is near an end
1999 – John Hamm sworn in as Nova Scotia’s 25th Premier
1911 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier kicks off re-election campaign in Three Rivers
1936 – Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale win Quebec Election
1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King meets with US President on North American defence
1940 –  Franklin Roosevelt meets with Canadian Prime Minister on North American defence
1943 – William Lyon Mackenzie King hosts US President & Winston Churchill at War Conference
1943 – Canadian Prime Minister hosts Franklin Roosevelt & Winston Churchill at War Conference
1943 – George Drew sworn in as Ontario’s 14th Premier
1961 – John Kennedy establishes Alliance for Progress
1987 – Bill Vander Zalm opens the Mascot Gold Mining Company’s open pit mine
1988 – George H. W. Bush nominated for president by Republican Party
1998 – Bill Clinton admits to an “improper physical relationship” with an intern
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rosalynn Carter, former first lady
HAPPY BIRTHDAY William R. Bennett, 27th British Columbia Premier
1938 – William Lyon Mackenzie King & US President dedicate Thousand Islands Bridge
1938 – Franklin Roosevelt & Canadian Prime Minister dedicate Thousand Islands Bridge

1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King & US President sign Joint Board of Defence agreement

1940 – Franklin Roosevelt & Canadian Prime Minister sign Joint Board of Defence agreement
1992 – Constitutional talks begin in Charlottetown
2011 – Simon de Jong passed away
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Bill Clinton, 42nd US President
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tipper Gore, former US 2nd lady
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Fred Thompson, former US Senator
1872 – Election riot in Montreal between supporters and opponents of George-Etienne Cartier
1961 – Lyndon Johnson visits West Berlin
1968 – Lester Pearson appointed head of World Bank commission on aid to developing countries
1976 – Gerald Ford wins Republican presidential nomination
1977 – Rene Levesque offers English education in Quebec for French Education in other provinces
1984 – Ronald Reagan nominated for president by Republican party
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ron Paul, former US Congressman
1781 – George Washington begins moving troops for fight against Cornwallis
1872 – George-Etienne Cartier meets with Monsignor Bourget
1941 – William Lyon Mackenzie King arrives in England
1964 – Marian Pearson & US first lady open Roosevelt Campobello International Airport
1964 – Lady Bird Johnson & Canadian first lady open Roosevelt Campobello International Airport
1964 – Lyndon Johnson signs Economic Opportunity Act
1972 – Dave Barrett sworn in as 26th British Columbia Premier
1974 – Gerald Ford assumes office
1974 – Nelson Rockefeller selected to be Vice-President
1982 – John Munro wins libel suit against Toronto Sun
1983 – Robert Bourassa announces return to politics
1858 – Abraham Lincoln & Stephen Douglas have first debate
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, arrives in Quebec City
1945 – Harry Truman ends Lend Lease program
1999 – Glen Clark resigns as British Columbia Premier
2002 – Jean Chretien announces he will not seek a 4th term
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, opens the Quebec Bridge
1925 – Lester Pearson marries Maryon Elspeth Moody
1950 – Louis St. Laurent calls emergency session of Parliament regarding rail strike
1956 – Dwight Eisenhower & Richard Nixon renominated by Republican convention
1979 – John Diefenbaker laid to rest at University of Saskatchewan campus
1984 – Ronald Reagan & George H. W. Bush renominated by Republican convention
1990 – George H. W. Bush calls up military reserves
1992 – Brian Mulroney & the Premiers sign the Charlottetown Accord
2011 – Jack Layton passes away
1939 – William Lyon Mackenzie King warns cabinet of possible war in Europe
1941 – William Lyon Mackenzie King booed by Canadian troops in England
1944 – Dwight Eisenhower meets with Generals Montgomery & Bradley
1947 – Harry Truman’s daughter Margaret gives first public singing concert
1956 – John Kennedy’s newborn daughter passes away
1957 – Tommy Douglas opens Saskatchewan portion of Trans-Canada Highway
1958 – Robert Bourassa marries Andree Simard
1972 – Republican convention renominates Spiro Agnew for Vice-President
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rene Levesque, 23rd Quebec Premier
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mike Huckabee, 44th Arkansas Governor
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gary Filmon, 19th Manitoba Premier
1936 – Franklin Roosevelt gives FBI expanded authority to pursue fascists & communists
1954 – Dwight Eisenhower signs Communist Control Act
1967 – John Robarts announces French secondary schooling for Ontario
1990 – Brian Mulroney sends destroyers to Persian Gulf to participate in Gulf War
2005 – Paul Martin formally acknowledges wrong doings against Ukrainian-Canadians during World War I
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hector Langevin, Father of Confederation
HAPPY BIRTHDAY George Wallace, 45th Alabama Governor, independent Presidential candidate
1919 – Edward, Prince of Wales, visits Toronto City Hall
1940 – William Lyon Mackenzie King urged to release French gold to British
1943 – Franklin Roosevelt makes first “official” visit to Canada by a US President
1950 – Harry Truman orders army to take control of railways to avert a strike
1984 – Brian Mulroney tells Liberal leader “you had an option” in election debate
1991 – Jean Charest announces money to protect ozone layer
2003 – Jean Chretien signs agreement providing self government to Tlicho First Nation in Northwest Territories
2009 – Ted Kennedy passes away
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, 15th Governor General of Canada
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Geraldine Ferraro, former member US House of Representatives
1834 – John A. Macdonald begins practising law in Kingston
1872 – Sir John A. Macdonald sends the telegram that led to Pacific Scandal
1936 – Maurice Duplessis sworn in as Quebec Premier
1939 – William Lyon Mackenzie King sends personal peace appeals to Hitler, Musolini & President of Poland
1961 – John Diefenbaker opens the International Hockey Hall of Fame at CNE
1964 – Lyndon Johnson nominated for President by Democrats
1996 – Bill Clinton signs welfare reform into law
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States
1984 – Ronald Reagan announces the Teacher in Space program
1991 – Brian Mulroney announces Royal Commission on Native Issues
1991 – Brian Mulroney urged to call conference on the economy by Premiers (minus Quebec)
2008 – Barack Obama nominated for President by Democratic Party
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Paul Martin, Canada’s 21st Prime Minister
1872 – George-Etienne Cartier loses seat of Montreal East
1945 – William Lyon Mackenzie King meets with Charles de Gaulle in Ottawa
1981 – Ronald Reagan’s shooter John Hinkley pleads innocent
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John McCain, AZ Senator
1864 – Sir John A. Macdonald leaves Quebec for Charlottetown
1917 – Sir Robert Borden’s Military Service Act receives royal assent
1917 – Sir Robert Borden passes the Soldier Settlement Act
1917 – Earl Grey passed away
1964 – Dick Cheney marries Lynne Ann Vincent
1968 – Hubert Humphrey nominated for President by Democratic Party
1969 – William Bennett and the British Columbia Social Credit win re-election
1983 – Brian Mulroney wins Central Nova by-election
1992 – Robert Bourassa gets Quebec Liberal Party to approve Charlottetown Accord
1996 – Bill Bennett found guilty of insider trading by British Columbia securities commission
2002 – Glen Clark acquitted of charges that led to his resignation
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Don Getty, Alberta’s 11th Premier
1873 – Lord Dufferin issues Order-In-Council constituting the Northwest Mounted Police
1944 – Maurice Duplessis sworn in as Quebec Premier
1968 – Pierre Trudeau cancels Winter Works Program
1971 – Peter Lougheed and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party win election
1972 – Dave Barrett and the British Columbia New Democratic Party win election
1979 – Jimmy Carter attacked by a rabbit on a canoe trip
1990 – Brian Mulroney appoints 5 new Senators
1935 – Franklin Roosevelt signs act preventing export of arms to belligerents
1993 – Brian Mulroney completely bans all cod fishing
2015 – Barack Obama re-designates Mount McKinley as Denali
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Remembering Herb Gray

A week after we lost Jim Flaherty, we lost Herb Gray.  Mr. Gray hadn’t served in the House of Commons since 2002.  However, for the previous 40 years, he was a fixture as a Member of Parliament from Windsor.  The discussions over Mr. Gray, his career, and his legacy, were less than those of Mr. Flaherty.  That, I contend, had more to do with the passage of time than anything else.

Herb Gray was the first Jewish person to hold a cabinet post in the Canadian Government.  In today’s society, that may not sound like much, but at the time, it was a considered a huge deal.  In the period following the resignation of John Turner and the selection of Jean Chretien, Mr. Gray led the Liberal party in the House.  He continued to lead it until Mr. Chretien won a seat in the House of Commons.

Regardless of ones political leanings, it should be agreed that the success of government is, in large part, dependent upon a strong opposition to hold it in check.  From 1984 through 1993, an historically long period for the Liberal party in opposition, Herb Gray ensured a strong opposition.  Even when his party was down to 40 seats after the 1984 election, Herb Gray followed his leader into battle each and every day, ensuring that the Mulroney government was held to account.

Under Jean Chretien, he rose to the job of Deputy Prime Minister.  He was the first person to hold that position without holding another ministry.  He articulated the government’s positions on a wide variety of issues.  He was the first man of the house.

He managed to stay out of the leadership battles that plagued the Liberal party.  None knew where his allegiance lay.  He was under suspicion from all sides.  He always performed.  His allegiance was to Canada first, last and always.  Then, to the people of Windsor.  Then to his party, and then to his leader.  He would support his leader, because it was good for the party.  He supported his party, because he felt that they were best for the people of Windsor.  If it was good for Windsor, it was definitely good for Canada.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Gray on a number of occasions when I was younger.  One story he tells stands out in my memory…

“I was driving home with my wife after serving as the guest speaker at an event.  I thought that I had done an especially good job that evening.  The crowd laughed, they cheered, they rose to their feet.  I was really feeling good about the performance I had given.  I turned to my wife and said, “there are a lot of great people in the world”.  There was a moment of silence.  Then she turned to me and responded, “there’s one less than you think there is”.”

That was Herb Gray.  Yes poking fun at his opponents, but always poking fun at himself.  Well Mr. Gray, with your loss, there’s one less great person in the world  You will be missed.  Thank you for the love you showed our country and thank you for your contribution to our public service.

Share your thoughts on Herb Gray in the comment section below.

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Jim Flaherty Remembered

The parliament of Canada lost one their own last week with the passing of former Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty.  I know that I’ve said that I wouldn’t discuss current politics in my blogs.  However, with his passing, Jim Flaherty no longer belongs to the present…Jim Flaherty now belongs to history.  I will discuss his life in politics, his record and his legacy.  I will conclude with the story of the one time I was fortunate enough to meet him.

Mr. Flaherty’s life in politics has been discussed at length in the past number of days.  For that reason, I will only touch on it.  He was first elected to Queen’s Park as part of the Mike Harris win in 1995.  He was re-elected in 1999 and 2003.  He held a number of cabinet posts including treasurer.  He left provincial politics to run federally.  In 2006, the same election that brought Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to power, saw Jim Flaherty elected to the House of Commons.  He was the first and, until 3 weeks ago, the only Minister of Finance to serve under Stephen Harper.

Jim Flaherty was a true believer in smaller government and he acted to put in place policies that would fulfill that belief.  As a member of the Harris government, he sought to make government smaller and less intrusive in the private sector.  He brought this passion to the federal scene.  When faced with the economic crises, he recognized a need for the government to step in.  But, the intervention was geared towards helping the private sector create jobs.  And, he had a plan to wind down the dramatic increases in government spending.  He retired as he brought the budget back into balance.

What is his legacy?  He was one of the longest serving finance ministers in Canadian history.  In that time, he faced numerous challenges.  If one word were used to describe his tenure, it would be “fairness”.  He implemented the campaign promise on lowering the GST, even though a majority of economists that it a bad idea.  He did so because it treated everyone the same…it was fair that everyone’s purchases would drop by an equal amount  He reversed the promise on income trusts.  He did this because the government wasn’t prepared to maintin revenues on the backs of families.  Corporations had to pay their fair share.  He created the tax-free savings accounts.  As a former investment professional, I believe that these are actually BETTER savings methods than RRSPs (this is not intended as investment advice…for investment advice, consult a professional).  Everyone could put money aside and not worry about the tax consequenses in the future.  Tax free, meant tax free.

Then came the global economic crises.  Though nothing in Canada caused the problems, Canada was not immune.  Jim Flaherty had a plan.  By now, everyone in Canada knows of “Canada’s Economic Action Plan”.  He worked more closely with the Governor of the Bank of Canada than had ever been done before.  Canada’s fiscal and monetary policies were married to ensure growth; to ensure opportunity for all Canadians.  Spending was dramatically increased.  Record deficits were reached.  Jim Flaherty had become the ultimate Keynesian.  Unlike previous Keynesians, he had a plan to eliminate the deficits.  And, he did it.  He was an acknowledged leader in the world.

The reason that emotions ran high so high across the political spectrum is that everyone acknowledged his belief in fairness.  As some opposition members acknowledged, even where we disagreed, he always took the time to listen.  He truly believed that the policies he was bringing forward were to the benefit of the people of Canada.  No greater legacy can exist for a politician.

I only met Jim Flaherty one time.  This is that story.  I was one of the 350 people invited to attend the state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.  Before the dinner, there was a reception.  In the room were most members of the government of Canada, many opposition leaders and members (I was right behind Jack Layton on the way to the receiving line).  There were 5 former Ontario Premiers and a former Prime Minister.  There were military leaders, police chiefs, fire chiefs and aboriginal leaders.  Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor and a future Governor General….And me.  While I wasn’t alone in not being a “leader” in some field, looking around the room, there weren’t many of us.  I commented that, of the 350 guests, I probably ranked dead last in importance (though, that didn’t detract from my being there).  While standing there, in awe of my surroundings, but, not socializing with anyone, Jim Flaherty and his wife came up to me and introduced themselves.  He took the time to introduce himself to someone who, no doubt, appeared to feel he was out of place (I was the only one staring with bulging eyes of those around me).  He took the time to talk with me.  He treated me as an equal, though, clearly I was not…especially in that room.  He could have spoken with his former bosses, Premiers Harris or Eves.  Instead, he was talking to me.  It was largely him asking me about myself, but, as recent stories has confirmed, he really cared about people.  Not for a moment did he make me feel like a lesser.  He seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying.  That was Jim Flaherty.  A man who worked with the most powerful people in the world, was at home with everyone.  No opinion was rejected outright.   No person turned away.  He embraced all.

Share your thoughts and memories of Jim Flaherty in the comment section below.

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Bill’s 6: Greatest Prime Ministers Canada NEVER Had

The first of my political 6 seemed quite popular with everyone.  And, they’re fun to write.  Sooooo….this week, I’m going to pick the 6 greatest Prime Ministers that Canada never had.  First, the ground rules…It cannot be someone that led a party in an election.  Voters had the option of making them Prime Minister and decided against it (sorry Tommy Douglas and Robert Stanfield).  They cannot have sought a party leadership and lost…same reason (sorry Bob Rae and Jim Prentice).  They cannot be young enough that they could still, conceivably, become a party leader and Prime Minister (sorry Frank McKenna and Gary Doer).  This last one also fits into my, “not gonna discuss contemporary politics” rule.  To sum up, the only people I considered were people that never sought to be Prime Minister and likely never will. (this doesn’t preclude my making another list later on though…it’s my blog and I can do what I want to)

6.  Clyde Wells – Clyde Wells was the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland that, more than anyone else, is blamed for the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord constitutional package.  He demonstrated an ability to garner a great deal of attention for himself.  He managed a competent government in Newfoundland.  He had a national exposure not normally associated with a NL Premier.  He was, however, a polarizing figure.  No one was blaze about him.  He was loved or he was reviled.  He never sought the top job.  He went on to serve as the chief justice of the Newfoundland Supreme Court.

5.  Bill Davis – Bill Davis was the long time Premier of Ontario.  When the federal Progressive Conservative leadership race began in 1983, it was assumed he would make the leap.  He didn’t have a great relationship with other of his fellow PC premiers.  The government he led was the classical “red tory”.  To paraphrase Mackenzie King, “interventionist when necessary, but not necessarily interventionist”.  He didn’t seek the job with the federal party and retired as premier 2 years later.  For Bill Davis items CLICK HERE!

4.  Roy Romanow – Roy Romanow was the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan.  Prior to that, he was the provinces Minister of Justice.  He held that position in the early 80’s, during the talks that led to the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution.  He led a middle of the road government, while still holding to his New Democratic Party roots.  Every time the leadership of his federal party opened up, he was considered a contender.  He never took the leap.  After retiring, he was asked by Prime Minister Jean Chretien to look into Canada’s health care system (who better than the former leader of the province and party that brought socialized medicine to Canada).  The Romanow Report is still referenced by leaders today.  For Roy Romanow items CLICK HERE!

3.  Clarence (C. D.) Howe – C. D. Howe served as a federal cabinet minister under Prime Ministers Mackenzie King and St. Laurent.  He was the king of the cabinet table.  He had his hands in every department.  He knew everything that was going on.  No one had a greater knowledge of the inner workings of the Canadian government before, or since him.  Yet, he never wanted, nor sought the top job for himself.  And, in 1957, he would lose his seat, forever leaving public life.

2.  Stephen Lewis – This is likely to be the most “controversial” choice on the list.  He was never a provincial premier.  He was never a minister in any government.  He did, however, lead the Ontario NDP to official opposition status.  He brought the governing Tories to a minority position.  He achieved successes in opposition.  He demonstrated a profound knowledge of most areas of public policy.  And, when the federal leadership opened up, he backed away.  He would, however, bring his vast knowledge to serve Canadians in another manor…as Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations.

1.  Peter Lougheed – Peter Lougheed is the father of the 43 year (and counting) Progressive Conservative party dynasty in Alberta.  Elected to the Premier’s office in 1971, he went to work modernizing Alberta.  He updated resource agreements to ensure Alberta taxpayers got their fair share.  He advanced the health care system.  He set up a “rainy day” fund, to ensure money was available in the future.  Twice the federal party asked him to run.  Twice he said no.  Instead, he retired to the private sector.  For Peter Lougheed items CLICK HERE!

It’s not an exhaustive list, and, no doubt it could easily include so many others, including people who never sought elected office.  Next week, I’ll do the same for the US.

What are your thoughts?  Share your comments below.

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Bill’s 6: Biggest Political Bone-Head Moves (Canada)

As promised when I launched the I am introducing a new feature to my blog.  Bill’s 6 will be top 6 lists on a variety of topics.  This week is the first.

In putting this list together, I want to point out that I specifically chose not to include areas of public policy.  Governments are elected to enact legislation and I have no desire to open a debate on the merits of those policies.  That goes beyond what I’m doing with this list (besides…it could anger people and the intent of this particular list is entertain).  Also, when I launched the site, I noted that I wasn’t going to include contemporary politics.  Therefore, I am not including anything on the list about anyone or anything that could in any way be considered as a part of current politics (again…don’t want to anger people about current events).  I hope that you enjoy…

6.  H. H. Stevens and the Reconstruction Party of Canada – Stevens left the governing Conservative Party and formed the Reconstruction party in 1935.  While his party finished third in the popular vote in the 1935 election, Stevens was the only person elected.  The party folded in 1938 when Stevens rejoined the Conservatives.  Had he not left and formed his own party, there’s a good chance, given that he was still held in high esteem for his work in areas such as the Price-Spreads Commission, he might have been tapped to lead the Conservatives after the debacle of the 1935 election.  Had this happened, he may, very well, have become Prime Minister.  A personal opinion, but, not one without some merit (also a personal opinion).

5.  Ontario Election Ads (1999 & 2003) – This one is a multi-partisan slam.  In 1999, the Ontario Liberals ran an ad that showed leader Dalton McGuinty using the line “I’m not up for the job” multiple times.  While not the intent of the ad, repetition is the key to advertising.  It’s the line that stuck and one that the PC government repeated numerous times.  Turnabout is fair play.  In 2003, the Ontario PC government of Ernie Eves aired an ad that talked of the Premier’s handling of crises such as sars and the power outage.  While the attempt was to show leadership during difficult times, it actually had the effect of reminding voters of the crises that occurred under Eves.  Media matters and these were two CLASSIC fails.

4.  1972 “The Land is Strong” – This was the slogan for the 1972 Liberal party of Canada campaign of Pierre Trudeau.  Only, no one knew what it meant, and, many voters actually didn’t agree.  The Liberals managed to hold onto power with 109 seats to the Progressive Conservative’s 107.  The land may have been strong, but the campaign slogan was not.

3.  Joe Clark and the PC Party Leadership (1983) – In 1983, 33.1% of Progressive Conservative delegates supported dumping their leader Joe Clark and holding a leadership convention.  This meant that 66.9% of delegates supported Mr. Clark and his continued leadership (in simple terms, over 2/3 supported him).  However, for Mr. Clark, this wasn’t enough.  He resigned the leadership and announced that he would be a candidate to replace himself.  In the end, he would lose the leadership and his chances of regaining the Premiership of the nation.  He didn’t have to go, but, for some reason, he left.

2.  Lester Pearson’s “suggestion” to John Diefenbaker – Soon after winning the leadership of the Liberal party of Canada, new leader, Lester Pearson, rose in the House of Commons and demanded that new Prime Minister John Diefenbaker turn the government over to the Liberals without bothering to call an election because that’s what Canadians really wanted.  Diefenbaker, riding high in the honeymoon of his recent election, decided to ask the voters, themselves, what they really wanted.  He called an election and won 208 seats, the largest ever won by a party in an election up to that point.  Guess Pearson was wrong about what Canadians wanted.

1.  The 1993 PC Party Election Campaign – When brainstorming this list, I noticed that a number of items from the Progressive Conservative party of Canada’s 1993 election campaign were on my list.  It only made sense, then, to make their whole campaign, the biggest bone-head move in Canadian political history.  The campaign kicked off with party leader Kim Campbell informing Canadians that elections were not the time to discuss important issues.  During the campaign, she would take time off for a “mini-vacation” with her boyfriend.  She would be demolished in the debate by her unwillingness to answer questions about the country’s deficit.  The party also aired (though only once) an ad that mocked the Liberal leader’s physical condition.  In the end, the country sent the ultimate message (and one that reinforces my choice)…the party only won 2 seats.

Do you agree with my choices?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.  Next week, I’ll do my US list.

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The Passion of the Pierre (Trudeau that is)

A little while back I was out at a bar with some friends. As often happens when I’m out with friends (and beer is involved) a political discussion broke out. We happened upon the topic of Pierre Trudeau. One person went on about the evil that was Pierre Trudeau; another spoke of his greatness. The discussion was heated, with me in the middle. Almost 30 years have passed since he’s left office, and, yet, he still invokes great passion and debate (a fact that hasn’t been hurt by the rise of his son to the leadership of The Liberal Party of Canada).

But what provokes the passions on both sides? As I said, from my spot in the middle, he had an agenda and was going to implement it…regardless of what others thought.

Many dislike him because of certain of his economic choices. He was a clear supporter of Keynes (though, in his defense, so was his primary opponent Robert Stanfield). He believed in an activist government; one that played a significant roll in the economy. Policies such as wage and price controls (6 & 5) were anathema to the right, as were the ever increasing deficits. Conversely, many strong supporters of Keynesian policies applauded the expansion of the government, the efforts taken to control inflation and his choices to fight economic downturns with ever increasing spending.

Many individuals dislike his liberalization of social policies in Canada. Without going into the specifics, many of the social policies had already moderated before he brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (more on that after). On the other side, there are many more who applaud his expansion of rights (again, before the Charter).

Which brings us to the constitution. In 1982, he brought it home with an enshrined Charter of Rights and Freedoms after numerous attempts. Many who dislike him, cite his preoccupation with the constitution. Setting that argument aside, the debate centers on what it is the Charter has done to Canada. Some believe that it places more power in the courts, taking it out of the hands of the elected people’s representatives. Others suggest that it’s the ultimate protector of the people from their governments.

So, who is right, and who is wrong. In fact (again, from my spot in the middle), both sides are right…and that’s precisely why people still discuss, argue and debate the legacy of Pierre Trudeau.

What are your thoughts? I welcome your comments.