Who was the greatest Prime Minister Canada never had?

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ScotianGuy1981
Who was the greatest Prime Minister Canada never had?

Until yesterday, Robert Stanfield (former Premier of Nova Scotia, former leader of the Progressive Conservative) held this honour according to pundits. However, the new name in this debate is Jack Layton( former Toronto city councillor, fomer leader of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, former leader of the New Democratic Party). 

Who you do you believe is the person most deserving is this title? (Other names are welcome of course). 

Issues Pages: 
lil.Tommy

I was also under the impression that Tommy Douglas held that honour? the Greatest Canadian was also one of the best PM's we never had.

West Coast Greeny

I'd throw Broadbent and Gilles Duceppe in there as well

- Stanfield
- Broadbent
- Douglas (though he wasn't exactly respected by the other side of the political spectrum, that's for sure)

- Layton

- Duceppe

I'm not totally familiar with Stanfield, but I think Layton stands on top of this list. 

JeffWells

She was never the leader of the party, let alone the Official Opposition, but I'd like to add Rosemary Brown's name to the list.

Fidel

Canada's greatest prime minister will be a future one who creates a prosperous sovereign country independent of ownership and control by absentee corporate landlords and marauding international capital. She, or he, will be remembered as Canada's first democratically elected leader of a true majority of the Canadian people and not just a puppet of Bay Street carpet baggers or any other non-elected power brokers, like we've had in Ottawa non-stop since 1867.

6079_Smith_W

If we are talking about "what if" moments, I wonder what would have happened if Thomas Scott had not been executed, and if Riel had been able to take his seat in the commons, and the terms of Manitoba confederation had been honoured. 

As for the top job, I wonder what Gabriel Dumont would have done with it, since he was not only a better military leader, but a more pragmatic politician than Riel was.

And Dumont's advice to Riel that they resist the  (1870)  Canadian invasion I don't even want to speculate where that might have lead. Suffice it to say that Riel's decision to not heed that advice probably determined the future of our country.

Sean in Ottawa

Stephen Lewis

Newfoundlander_...

John Manley.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I'd have liked to see a coalition government formed by a party led by Unionist and another party led by Stockholm.  I'm not sure if it would've been great, but it would've been entertaining.

Fidel

Tommy Douglas, Stephen Lewis, Ed Broadbent, Jack Layton etc. The list is a long one of wonderful people on the left trained and educated in political science and economics etc, and who aspired to lead a country without influence and control by a non-elected financial-industrial oligarchy in international solidarity with one another.

What we've had in Ottawa instead is a long history of lawyers and business types not trained or educated, nor self-inspired from the heart to lead a country. What we've had in Ottawa since 1867 is a long list of yes-men and bribed hirelings whose real constituents have worked to subvert any notions for legitimate democratic process by their unwritten rules for dollar democracy. They have no soul and no heart. Corrupt stooges like Steve Harper can only dream of being admired and referred to on a first name basis by millions, like Jack still is even in passing. Vicious toadies for the empire like Steve Harper will never be renowned for their compassion or democratic integrity, or for connecting with a crowd of people not paying $500 dollars a plate to listen to their snivelling and grovelling to US power and the corporatocracy the way Steve Harper is paid to.

6079_Smith_W

@ Fidel

In other words, the best (or least worst) you can see is for Warren Buffett to take over as CEO.

 

Debater

Ed Broadbent

Fidel

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ Fidel

In other words, the best (or least worst) you can see is for Warren Buffett to take over as CEO.

 

Buffet was a laff-riot on Charlie Rose recently. He sang praises of American capitalism up and down while criticizing the EU for handing over the powers of money creation to a dictatorial European central bank. And it really is the most neoliberal, and most dictatorial financial regime ever conceived. But while buffet was praising American capitalism and criticizing Europe, he fawns over the fact that the US Government never gave up its right to government-created money. And GCM is a lot more characteristic of socialism than capitalism. Buffet might as well have been plugging for a revival of Soviet era GOSBank! The comments leaking out of the USSA these days have become a steady supply of laffs a minute. lol! What's really sad, though, is the fact that our corrupt stooges in Ottawa tied Canada's economic wagon of fortunes to that mess with FTA and NAFTA. Our bozos just follow instructions from Warshington most of the time.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Actually, if he'd have been able to govern in accord with to the values expressed in his songs, I'd nominate Bruce Cockburn as the greatest prime minister Canada hasn't had.

Hunky_Monkey

I wonder what type of Prime Minister Audrey McLaughlin would have made...

Fidel

Audrey all by herself would be worth a thousand of these idiots in phony majority power any day of the week.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

That's true.

Stockholm

West Coast Greeny wrote:

I'd throw Broadbent and Gilles Duceppe in there as well

- Stanfield
- Broadbent
- Douglas (though he wasn't exactly respected by the other side of the political spectrum, that's for sure)

- Layton

- Duceppe

I'm not totally familiar with Stanfield, but I think Layton stands on top of this list. 

It's not that I don't respect Gilles Duceppe in many ways but let't be serious - how can an unrepentant separatist who makes no bones about only wanting to promote the interest of Quebec and who brags about not giving a shit about anyone or anything in the rest of Canada someone who could in any way shape or form be some who could have been a good PM of Canada. I think that to even be considered as a "best PM Canada never had" a minimum qualification has to be supporting the existence of Canada in the firstt place, no?

Anonymouse

Louis RielWink

 

Seriously, though, Agnes Macphail.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Stephen Lewis

David Lewis not his sycophant son. 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

Actually, if he'd have been able to govern in accord with to the values expressed in his songs, I'd nominate Bruce Cockburn as the greatest prime minister Canada hasn't had.

I might have agreed until he sang, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" for the imperial troops stationed in Kandahar.   He seems to have become a true Xian warrior willing to promote the great crusade against Islam. 

knownothing knownothing's picture

Tommy Douglas for sure! But even he didn't relegate the Liberals to the back corner of the house like Jack did.

6079_Smith_W

Anonymouse wrote:

Louis RielWink

Actually I was serious. Riel was elected to the House of Commons three times. He was just never allowed to take his seat. Most importantly, he practiced the politics of unity - drawing different cultures and potential enemies together in a time of crisis - rather than the politics of division, which was the strategy of the Canada's first PM.

Unfortunately he was defeated - primarily by the racism and colonial ambition of others, but also by several of his own bad decisions.

I know Dumont never moved in eastern political circles, but he was a diplomat - helping his father negotiate peace treaties (REAL treaties) when he was still young, a community leader who knew that his people were going to have to adapt to life after the buffalo, and he spoke seven languages. His military foes recognized his great skill. I think that goes for his skill as a politician too, even though (perhaps BECAUSE) he never worked in the parliamentary system.

 

6079_Smith_W

knownothing wrote:

Tommy Douglas for sure! But even he didn't relegate the Liberals to the back corner of the house like Jack did.

Are we going to get into that? Really I think he was doing them a favour by showing them the true lay of the land. After all, I expect he learned a few things by starting his tenure from that same spot.

What was he suposed to do, serve them tea and hold their hands?

and @ NS

I heard that interview too.

Funny, my respect for him (already considerable) went up a decade or so ago when I learned that he is a marksman, and would actually know what to do with that rocket launcher, rather than just singing about things he did not understand.

 

 

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Funny, my respect for him (already considerable) went up a decade or so ago when I learned that he is a marksman, and would actually know what to do with that rocket launcher, rather than just singing about things he did not understand.

 So you have a lot of respect for the SS and the Navy Seals?  How about the Israeli army, I hear they know how to shoot their weapons as well?

I thought he understood the horrors of war but his Kandahar visit told me he was just writing lyrics about things he knew nothing about.

6079_Smith_W

I think I said what I said, NS, and things I didn't say,  ...well I didn't say them.

I also heard the interview (if we are talking about the same CBC radio piece) and figured at the time that some might find iteven more challenging that Cockburn's religious beliefs.

But having non-politicians brought into this list reminds me of a very smart move made by Sarah Polley when she was challenged to a debate (over cuts to arts funding, I think it was) . She accepted, but offered someone who had a greater understanding of the issue to debate in her stead. 

(and sorry, I have looked for the source on that, but haven't been able to find it yet)

Knowing when to delegate, thus avoiding a personal punching match and keeping what is most important -  the issue -  at the forefront. I don't know how she would do as PM, but that was a brilliant and unexpected political move.

 

Sean in Ottawa

You are upset that Cockburn sang that song?

Maybe he went there BECAUSE he could sing that song. Because he thought they needed to hear that song.

When was the last time you heard it or read the lyrics?

If you read them I think you would respect a guy who invited to play for the "troops" would play that anti-war song warning them about killing kids?

What about this line do you have trouble with being played there? "I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states"

the song is not glorifying violence it is about the anger you feel when civilians are killed and tortured.

Here are the lyrics-- I am sure in this context Cockburn whose commitment to social justice ought not to be questioned, would agree to:

 

Here comes the helicopter -- second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they've murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher...I'd make somebody pay

I don't believe in guarded borders and I don't believe in hate
I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation -- or some less humane fate
Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher...I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice -- at least I've got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher...Some son of a bitch would die

 

Sean in Ottawa

Bruce Cockburn's words:

" Yeah,well, there are people in them, you know? Which is something that - the thing is, the weird thing about it is they stop looking like people because of what they're doing. I guess that's what makes it so easy to want to shoot them down because they [snickers] make- - -they make you feel like they forfeited their humanity somehow. But they're pawns in it. Anyway, this song is all about that. The one thing I must stress in case anybody's under any delusion that this is so, is that this is not a call to arms. This is, this is a cry..."

-- from an intro to the song at a gig at the Cotati Cabaret, Cotati, Sonoma County, California.

*****

Jamie Frederick:"...and if you had a rocket launcher would you really not hesitate?"

BC: "If I had a rocket launcher? Well I guess it depends on the context, you know? If I had a rocket launcher and I was in that refugee camp at the time that I thought of that song, yes, I would use it, but I would hope I never find myself in that situation."

-- from "Intimate & Interactive with Bruce Cockburn" (phone-in show with live audience, hosted by Michael Williams. Interviewer: Jamie Frederick. Location: MuchMusic (Canadian music video channel). Airdate: 29 October 1991. Submitted by Dave Macklin.

 

12 January 1992

"These people were dealing with this fear every day -- Guatemalan helicopters would fly over the camps, maybe drop a bomb on them, or some soldiers would kidnap some of the refugees, take them into the woods and chop them up," says Mr. Cockburn. "You know the scene at the end of the movie 'Apocalypse Now?' That's nothing compared to what I saw."

-- from "A Rising Northern Star: Canadian Bruce Cockburn Wins More U.S. Converts" by Brad Buchholz, Dallas Morning News, 12 January 1992. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

http://cockburnproject.net/songs&music/iiharl.html

 

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

When was the last time you heard it or read the lyrics?

If you read them I think you would respect a guy who invited to play for the "troops" would play that anti-war song warning them about killing kids?

What about this line do you have trouble with being played there? "I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states"

the song is not glorifying violence it is about the anger you feel when civilians are killed and tortured.

I have a dozen of his albums. So save me the condescending, moralistic mini-lecture.  I read as well as you do.  You whine a lot about people attacking you for no reason.  Passive aggressive is all that comes to mind when I read your gratuitous personal insults.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

He went to support our troops engaged in an imperialist occupation.  What don't you understand about that? He failed to see that our troops are supporting a stinking torture state and are not on the side of peace. 

You can't be a man of peace and bring comfort and succour to an occupying army. 

All the quotes in your second post are from long before he sold his soul to NATO.

Sean in Ottawa

Sarah Polley is incredible.

I don't know if she would want the job but wow-- I'd be proud of a country that would have her as PM.

6079_Smith_W

Northern Shoveler wrote:

You can't be a man of peace and bring comfort and succour to an occupying army. 

Actually that is just the thing - you can.

You don't fight hatred with hatred, especially when it comes to those who are at the bottom end of the food chain, and especially not in a conflict which is very complex.

(since although I know things have changed utterly, I remember before September 2001 wondering when something would be done about the horrible abuses in that country)

My neighbour is a soldier who has served over there. He knows I don't support the mission, and the fact is his approach to his work there is pretty balanced IMO. I let my children play with his kids, and I treat him the same as I would treat any of the other neighbours on my block.

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sarah Polley comes from a well off professional family and because of those family connections she has been in front of a camera since the age of four.  Yes she would make an excellent leader of a social democratic party.  She has the right skill set.  

Sean in Ottawa

For fuck's sake NS you were attacking Cockburn for singing that song-- why not let the words of the song be there?

And really-- why have a fit just because someone does not agree with your attack on a third person.

Let's be clear -- your problem, you said, was that he sang that song. I challenged you on it based on the song.

If your problem is actually that he went there in the first place -- then you could have led with that. And if you want to say he sold his sold to NATO-- sure-- I don't know the guy personally but you should provide evidence for that. If that had been your complaint I would not have criticized and instead looked in to it.

But no-- your complaint was that he sang that song-- and it explains the anger of people wanting to shoot back at an invading army.

If you are such a democrat then you ought to take disagreement better than this.

As for your shit about saying you have all his albums-- well you wrote your post as if the song meant something else as if you don't know it or what it means because you sure did not mention the idea that the song would be hypocritical in view of whatever support you claim he was offering. But you came here assuming everyone is aware of his "support" but in fact all I got out of it was he was given an opportunity to play for the troops and choose that particular song -- and in that context I would say -- good for him.

Now stop being such a jerk and document your point rather than presume some kind of mind meld type transfer.

There is nothing wrong with singing that song there to those people.

If he said or did more to support the war there then share that first and if he did you would be right there. I should not have to do your research to support your point because you are too lazy to do it yourself or because you lay a trap like that where you make a stupid point like the one you did based on something you are not sharing.

I have met Cockburn a few times and he has certainly done some free concerts at NDP fundraisers and helped out-- you need to do more than presume he is the enemy -- you need to document that with something stronger than you have here.

Sean in Ottawa

Nice touch NS-- showing what kind of person you are. Good job.

Shows that you can pick a fight where there was only a disagreement.

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

For fuck's sake NS you were attacking Cockburn for singing that song-- why not let the words of the song be there?

And really-- why have a fit just because someone does not agree with your attack on a third person.

Let's be clear -- your problem, you said, was that he sang that song. I challenged you on it based on the song.

If your problem is actually that he went there in the first place -- then you could have led with that. And if you want to say he sold his sold to NATO-- sure-- I don't know the guy personally but you should provide evidence for that. If that had been your complaint I would not have criticized and instead looked in to it.

But no-- your complaint was that he sang that song-- and it explains the anger of people wanting to shoot back at an invading army.

If you are such a democrat then you ought to take disagreement better than this.

As for your shit about saying you have all his albums-- well you wrote your post as if the song meant something else as if you don't know it or what it means because you sure did not mention the idea that the song would be hypocritical in view of whatever support you claim he was offering. But you came here assuming everyone is aware of his "support" but in fact all I got out of it was he was given an opportunity to play for the troops and choose that particular song -- and in that context I would say -- good for him.

Now stop being such a jerk and document your point rather than presume some kind of mind meld type transfer.

There is nothing wrong with singing that song there to those people.

If he said or did more to support the war there then share that first and if he did you would be right there. I should not have to do your research to support your point because you are too lazy to do it yourself or because you lay a trap like that where you make a stupid point like the one you did based on something you are not sharing.

I have met Cockburn a few times and he has certainly done some free concerts at NDP fundraisers and helped out-- you need to do more than presume he is the enemy -- you need to document that with something stronger than you have here.

Geez Sean settle fucking down.

I do not have to follow your flipping view of what my posts should say.  I said since he sang that song in Kandahar.   I don't write long winded posts like you do.  Actually I don't think any one else does.  I am not going to emulate your posting style no matter how much you would like me too.  I will not write 1000 words of dense verbiage going around and around a point when that point can be made in a few words.  So stop telling me I should.

If you don't like one of my post then say so or ignore it but please spare me your moralistic lectures. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Gordon Lightfoot Smile

 

(all I know about his politics is that he's been a life-long peace activist)

Unionist

Rick Mercer.

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Norman Bethune was the best PM Canada never had.

Anonymouse

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Anonymouse wrote:

Louis RielWink

Actually I was serious. Riel was elected to the House of Commons three times. He was just never allowed to take his seat. Most importantly, he practiced the politics of unity - drawing different cultures and potential enemies together in a time of crisis - rather than the politics of division, which was the strategy of the Canada's first PM.

Unfortunately he was defeated - primarily by the racism and colonial ambition of others, but also by several of his own bad decisions.

I know Dumont never moved in eastern political circles, but he was a diplomat - helping his father negotiate peace treaties (REAL treaties) when he was still young, a community leader who knew that his people were going to have to adapt to life after the buffalo, and he spoke seven languages. His military foes recognized his great skill. I think that goes for his skill as a politician too, even though (perhaps BECAUSE) he never worked in the parliamentary system.

 

Oh sorry, I didn't see that someone had already put Louis Riel. The whole killing people thing isn't my bag, otherwise I agree!

6079_Smith_W

@ Anonymouse

no problem. I thought you might have missed it. And I'm not into execution myself. But I can see how he might have been in a difficult position as the head of a provisional govenrment with the wolves at the door.

And the fact is that Scott did murder someone in a fairly gruesome fashion, so by the rules of the day he was asking for it.

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

double post

Sean in Ottawa

NS- I looked just a little bit into this.

Cockburn has stated he thinks the war is unwinnable and acknowledged Canadians do not support the mission. He distinguishes between support for the troops and the mission -- a point you can disagree with if you like.

As for his purpose in going-- his brother is there as a soldier.

Now here is a discussion criticizing him for what he has said and done re Afghanistan-- this not the simple singing of that song. This is what should have been advanced:

http://www.poleconanalysis.org/2009/09/afghanistan-et-tu-bruce1.html

His words I have a lot of difficulty with-- the singing of the song-- could just as easily have been a protest and to advance that alone without more support was unreasonable of NS -- and that is before his over-the-top response to me. I could well have agreed with the attack on Cockburn if it had been backed up with this.

I think you need to provide more than NS did to be able to attack someone who has been a strong progressive voice. And when asked to back up your attack do more then to turn and attack another babbler.

But then NS prefers to be called an asshole since mere disagreement he thinks is passive aggressive--

He wants you down in the gutter with him -- leaves little choice because polite disagreement does not work for him-- he does not even recognize it -- he does not understand it -- cannot tolerate it. The personal fight is the only way he can disagree and he has no respect for people who show respect for people even while disagreeing with what is said-- to attack someone's message or point is a terrible thing according to NS-- you need to go for the jugular-- none of this debate shit just slang the person directly or be called passive aggressive-- don't try to think  about the discussion -- here is a chance to prove you can be an asshole and call another person one in whatever imaginative and highly personal way you can.

I guess with attitudes like these it is remotely possible that NS could somehow completely fail to realize I was not being passive aggressive and am not actually. I am either pissed and directly aggressive or I am not. I was merely discussing the issue at hand believing from what he said that he must not know the song.

NS-- you are a person you can get along with fine as long as you agree but who will slang you to shit if you don't -- and then pretend that your disagreement was personal from the start in order to justify when he turned it that way. Great NS you made it personal. congrats. It is a big failure of mine here-- I write answers to what is said and don't pay much attention to who is speaking. Ideas interest me personal fights disgust me and I hat being baited into them by people wandering looking for a fight like NS.

I need to remember that there are assholes seeking personal fights around here so that I should not just post debating a topic but should realize there are people wanting a personal fight at every opportunity. My mistake you fucking jerk and again congrats for making this the fight it is.

ETA: Cool how you tell me to settle down after YOU pick a fight with words like this:

"I have a dozen of his albums. So save me the condescending, moralistic mini-lecture. I read as well as you do. You whine a lot about people attacking you for no reason. Passive aggressive is all that comes to mind when I read your gratuitous personal insults. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS"

NS-- I might be wrong maybe you don't actually want a fight afterall-- perhaps you just want to do drive by attacks and then get all touchy when someone dishes anything back to you.

 

6079_Smith_W

Northern Shoveler wrote:

Norman Bethune was the best PM Canada never had.

Really?

Well-off family

white anglo

soldier

abuser of women

arrogant

drunk

Not my personal assessment, but if we want to do this based on purity tests, he doesn't pass muster.

 

 

 

Caissa

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."
~Jack Layton (1950-2011)

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..jean claude parrot

 

Sean in Ottawa

I agree Lou-- it is the idea that this is a person who could ahve done it-- perhaps should have. Broadbent too fits it in the minds of many becuase it seemed to come so close in 1987-8 and then slip away. I think now that Jack Layton has done it people might be able to acknowledge how close Broadbent came as well-- those polling numbers he had -- given better timing could have been historical.

I don't think we would include on this list the names of people who never declared an aspiration for the position or those it was completely impossible to imagine.

Lefauve

I think that the best prime minister is yet to come, it the one who will manage to lower all tension between the province.

Roberteh

David McNally (Ryerson university professor), although, I just met him the other month - I have always found his writings clear and concise. 

I think rather than having a Prime Minister, it would nice to have a collegium of people from across the social sector directly elected by their constituents as well as the ridings system (w/ recall legislation) then have the Parliament elect the Prime Minister.  Right now the Canadian cabinet resembles its American counterpart with all power focused in the hands of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and all government is suborninated to them.  Rather we need to see power more difused.

 

Thanks Jack...you said it much better than I could ever had...

Caissa wrote:

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."
~Jack Layton (1950-2011)

 

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

If you believe the 'best Prime Minister' is someone you personally find inspiring and would like to see in that position, than most of the names mentioned here are fine ones to suggest.

However, I like to think of the title of 'best PM we never had' should go to the person whom Canadians as a whole feel missed the brass ring for some (perhaps unfair) reason.  Being a great Prime Minister should mean inspiring millions, not just a few.  And I personally feel that for this title in particular, it should be someone whom Canadians feel some regret at not electing.  Many people felt that way about Stanfield, they thought him a fine man, but preferred Trudeau and therefore didn't vote for him.

With that criteria in mind, I think Jack is a great candidate for the title.  Given a few more years of life, he may well have made it to 24 Sussex, but fate played her hand and we were denied the chance to see if it could happen.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sean I said; "I might have agreed until he sang, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" for the imperial troops stationed in Kandahar."

I don't know why that has caused you so much pain. Get fucking over it.  I don't need to cite anything to state my opinion of a celebrity.  Who do you think you are to tell me I can't post my opinions about a public personality especially in a thread that is a basically a popularity contest.

Kiss

ygtbk

Moxy Früvous, obviously.

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