Archive for December 11th, 2012

john p.macdonald

John A. MacDonald (1815-1891)
The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century.Macdonald was designated as the first Prime Minister of the new nation, and served in that capacity for most of the remainder of his life, losing office for five years in the 1870s over the Pacific Scandal (corruption in the financing of the Canadian Pacific Railway). After regaining his position, he saw the railroad through to completion in 1885, a means of transportation and freight conveyance that helped unite Canada as one nation. Macdonald is credited with creating a Canadian Confederation despite many obstacles, and expanding what was a relatively small colony to cover the northern half of North America. By the time of his death in 1891, Canada had secured most of the territory it occupies today.

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal believes that Macdonald’s true monument is Canada itself: “Without Macdonald we’d be a country that begins somewhere at the Manitoba-Ontario border that probably goes throughout the east. Newfoundland would be like Alaska and I think that would also go for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. We’d be buying our oil from the United States. It would diminish our quality of life and range of careers, and our role in the world would have been substantially reduced.”
Macdonald’s biographers note his contribution to establishing Canada as a nation. Swainson suggests that Macdonald’s desire for a free and tolerant Canada became part of its national outlook: “He not only helped to create Canada, but contributed immeasurably to its character.” Gwyn said of Macdonald,
his accomplishments were staggering: Confederation above all, but almost as important, if not more so, extending the country across the continent by a railway that was, objectively, a fiscal and economic insanity … On the ledger’s other side, he was responsible for the CPR scandal, the execution of Louis Riel, and for the head tax on Chinese workers. He’s thus not easy to scan. His private life was mostly barren. Yet few other Canadian leaders—Pierre Trudeau, John Diefenbaker for a time, Wilfrid Laurier—had the same capacity to inspire love.(ack: wikipedia)

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