Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
Gregory Selinger, 21st premier of Manitoba 2009-2016, MLA, city councillor, social worker (born 16 February 1951 in Regina, SK). Manitoba’s economy grew during Selinger’s seven years as premier, but he faced a public backlash over an increase in sales tax and an internal revolt from his party.
Dennis Michael John “doc” O’Keefe, teacher, municipal politician, mayor of St. John’s 2008–present (born 20 April 1944 in St. John’s, NL). A retired school teacher, and a city council member since 1997, O’Keefe is a consumer-and cruise ship industry-advocate known for his approachability, and his daily walks of the streets of St. John’s.
Frank Arthur Calder, OC, Nisga’a politician, chief, businessman (born 3 August 1915, Nass Harbour, BC; died 4 November 2006 in Victoria, BC). Frank Calder was the first Indigenous member of a Canadian legislature, elected in 1949 during the BC general election. Calder is best known for his role in the Nisga’a Tribal Council’s Supreme Court case against the province of British Columbia (commonly known as the Calder case), which demonstrated that Aboriginal title (i.e., ownership) to traditional lands exists in modern Canadian law.
Frank Joseph McKenna, PC, OC, ONB, lawyer, politician, businessman, diplomat, premier of New Brunswick 1987–97 (born 19 January 1948 in Apohaqui, NB). McKenna became premier in only the second complete election sweep in Canadian history. Once called the "tiny, perfect premier," his decade in office was marked by a heavy focus on job creation. Despite his popularity in Liberal Party circles, he rejected an opportunity to run for the leadership of the federal party, in favour of corporate directorship.2
Floyd Roland, mechanic, politician, premier of Northwest Territories 2007 to 2011, mayor of Inuvik 2012 to 2015 (born 23 November 1961 in Inuvik, NWT). Roland sat in the Northwest Territories legislature for 12 years before becoming premier on 18 October 2007. His premiership was marred by a scandal over an affair between Roland and a clerk of the legislature.
Gloria Mary Maureen George, Indigenous politician, activist and public servant (born 24 July 1942 in Hubert, BC). A tireless advocate for non-status Indians, George was elected president of the Native Council of Canada in 1975, becoming the first and only woman to lead a major Indigenous political organization.
David Nathan Alward, civil servant, consultant, politician, diplomat, premier of New Brunswick 2010–14 (born 2 December 1959 in Beverly, Massachusetts). Alward was a federal civil servant, and a private consultant, before making the move to provincial politics in 1999. He was elected premier of New Brunswick on 27 September 2010 and governed for four years. After his defeat in 2014, he was named Canada’s consul general in Boston.
Observing the grim results of industrial capitalism in Canada and Britain, Woodsworth concluded that his church's stress upon personal salvation was wrong. Moving from middle-class pulpits to a city mission, All People's, Winnipeg, he worked with immigrant slum dwellers 1904-13.
George Brown played an instrumental role in establishing Confederation. As leader of the Clear Grits (forerunner of the Liberal Party) in Canada West, he set aside political differences and allied with his Conservative rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1864, with whom he pitched Confederation to the Atlantic colonies at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. From 3 February to 13 March 1865, politicians in the Province of Canada debated the terms of Confederation, offering some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the union of British North American colonies. In the following speech, delivered before the legislature of the Province of Canada on 8 February 1865, Brown explains his reasons for supporting Confederation.
Stephen McNeil, business owner, politician, 28th premier of Nova Scotia, 2013 to present (born 10 November 1964 in Halifax, NS). Few observers expected much from refrigerator repairman Stephen McNeil when he was first elected to the Nova Scotia legislature in 2003. But he surprised pundits when he became leader of the Liberal Party, and was twice elected premier, winning majority governments in 2013 and 2017.
Wabanakwut Kinew, hip hop artist, broadcaster, university administrator, author, politician (born 31 December 1981 in Kenora, ON). An Ojibwa activist and public intellectual, Wab Kinew began his career as a musician and rapper with the hip hop group Dead Indians. He gained national attention through his radio and television journalism for the CBC, including 8th Fire, a television series on Indigenous issues. Kinew’s 2015 memoir, The Reason You Walk, was a national bestseller and finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize. In 2016, Kinew was elected to the Manitoba legislature, despite controversial tweets and rap lyrics that dogged his campaign. In 2017, he announced his intention to seek the leadership of the Manitoba New Democratic Party.
Piita Irniq (formerly known as Peter Irniq and Peter Ernerk), cultural proponent, artist, public servant, commissioner of Nunavut (born 1947 at Lyon Inlet, NT [now Nunavut]). Irniq represented the Keewatin region in the Council of the Northwest Territories from 1975 to 1979. From 2000 to 2005, he served as the second commissioner of Nunavut . Irniq has worked to preserve and promote Inuit culture and languages.
Brian Vincent Tobin, PC, OC, politician, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 1996-2000 (born 21 October, 1954 in Stephenville, NF). Before serving as Newfoundland and Labrador's sixth premier, Tobin became a hero in the province when, as a federal cabinet minister, he defended the turbot fishery against foreign overfishing. Nicknamed “Captain Canada,” he was also a strong advocate of national unity during Québec's 1995 referendum on sovereignty.
William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, teacher, radio evangelist, premier of Alberta from 1935 to 1943 (born 31 December 1878 in Hibbert Township, Perth County, ON; died 23 May 1943 in Vancouver, BC). An important influence in religious sectarianism in Western Canada, Aberhart led the world’s first Social Credit government, which dominated Alberta politics until 1971.