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Allan Ezra Gotlieb, public servant (born 28 February 1928 in Winnipeg, MB; died 18 April 2020 in Toronto, ON
Sir Charles Tupper
Sir Charles Tupper, prime minister, premier of Nova Scotia 1864–67, doctor (born 2 July 1821 in Amherst, NS; died 30 October 1915 in Bexleyheath, England). Charles Tupper led Nova Scotia into Confederation while he was premier. Over the course of his lengthy political career, he served as a federal Cabinet minister and diplomat, and briefly as prime minister of Canada — his 10-week term is the shortest in Canadian history. He was the last surviving Father of Confederation.
George Coles, premier of Prince Edward Island (1851–54, 1854–59, 1867–68), distiller, brewer, merchant, farmer (born 20 September 1810 in Prince Edward Island; died 21 August 1875 in Charlottetown Royalty, PE).
Joseph “Joey” Roberts Smallwood, CC, premier of Newfoundland (1949–72), journalist (born 24 December 1900 in Mint Brook, NL; died 17 December 1991 in St. John's, NL). The leading proponent of Confederation in Newfoundland in the 20th century, Joey Smallwood played an important role in bringing the province into Confederation in 1949. He served as Newfoundland and Labrador’s first premier for nearly 23 years, and is sometimes referred to as “the last Father of Confederation.” During his lifetime, he was also called “the only living Father of Confederation.”
Premiers of Nova Scotia
Jody Wilson-Raybould (“Puglaas” or “woman born of noble people” or “woman with integrity” in Kwak’wala), politician, lawyer (born 23 March 1971 in Vancouver, BC). Jody Wilson-Raybould is the independent MP for Vancouver Granville. She was federal minister of justice, attorney general and minister of veterans affairs in the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Prior to her career in federal politics, she was a BC crown prosecutor, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and member of the BC Treaty Commission. As Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister, Wilson-Raybould introduced groundbreaking legislation, including Bill C-14 on medically assisted dying, C-16 on gender identity and human rights, and C-45, The Cannabis Act. She has helped to build bridges between First Nations communities and the Canadian government and is committed to helping Indigenous peoples seek self-government and gain equality in education, health care and legal rights.
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Inuk Member of Parliament (born 4 November 1993 in Baker Lake, NU). In 2019, Qaqqaq became, at age 25, Nunavut’s youngest MP in history, and the first from the New Democratic Party (NDP) since Nunavut became a territory in 1999. Before entering politics, Qaqqaq was a public speaker and activist who raised awareness of the various crises that Inuit face (suicide, food insecurity, housing, climate).
His willingness to allow French law and custom in the courts further alienated the merchants and led to his recall in April 1766 and he left Canada in June. Though charges were dismissed, he did not return to Canada though he retained nominal governorship until April 1768.
Balarama Holness, professional football player, jurist, political activist, social entrepreneur (born 20 July 1983 in Montreal, QC). Balarama Holness put a wayward youth behind him to become a Grey Cup-winning professional football player with his hometown Montreal Alouettes. He then pursued a career as a jurist and political organizer and ran for mayor of the borough of Montréal-Nord in 2017. His community organizing efforts led to two separate reports (in 2019 and 2020) that acknowledged the existence and extent of systemic racism in the province, while also recommending solutions. In 2021, Holness ran to become mayor of Montreal but was defeated.
Jagmeet Singh “Jimmy” Dhaliwal, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada 2017–present, MP, MPP, lawyer (born 2 January 1979 in Scarborough, ON). Jagmeet Singh served as an Ontario MPP from 2011 until 2017, when he won the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP). This made him the first racialized leader of a major national political party in Canada. He was also the first turban-wearing Sikh elected to the Ontario legislature. Singh has consistently rated higher than other federal party leaders in public opinion polls but has yet to translate that into national electoral success. He has been the Member of Parliament for Burnaby South since 2019.
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, CM, politician, public servant, community leader (born 15 April 1931 in Bernard Harbour, NT [NU]; died 23 January 2009 in Cambridge Bay, NU). Maksagak was the first woman and Inuk to serve as the commissioner of the Northwest Territories. A vocal and engaged advocate for Inuit affairs, she contributed to efforts to establish Nunavut as Canada’s third territory in the 1990s. In March of 1999, she was chosen as the first commissioner of the newly created Nunavut territory; her term lasted until March 2000. Maksagak returned to a formal political role in November 2005, when she was appointed deputy commissioner of Nunavut. In addition to her political career, Maksagak performed advocacy work, focusing on Inuit and, more broadly, Indigenous initiatives, such as improving access to social services.
Henry Arthur Smitheram
Henry Arthur Smitheram, "Butch," politician, public servant (b at Penticton, BC 8 Jan 1918; d at Keremeos, BC 14 Mar 1982). Smitheram was a nonstatus Indian, his Okanagan mother having lost her status upon marrying his English father.
Régis Labeaume, mining executive, businessman, politician, 37th mayor of Québec City (2007-2021), born 2 May 1956 in Roberval, QC). During his leadership of Québec City, Labeaume attracted businesses and high-profile entertainers to his city, but he did not succeed in bringing back a coveted National Hockey League franchise.
Henry Wise Wood
Henry Wise Wood, farmer, farm leader (born 31 May 1860 on a farm near Monroe City, Missouri; died 10 June 1941 in Calgary, AB). Henry Wise Wood was one of the most powerful agrarian and political figures in Alberta from 1915 until his death in 1941. A member of a Christian sect that emphasized the need for Christian ethics in economic activities, he served as president of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) from 1916 to 1931. Wood declined to become premier of Alberta in 1921 but played a powerful role in determining the government's policies and programs. He was a leader in the wheat pool movement that swept rural Alberta in 1923–24. He also helped develop the federal Progressive Party platform.
Herbert Greenfield, farmer, politician, businessman, premier of Alberta 1921–25 (born 25 November 1867 in Winchester, England; died 23 August 1949 in Calgary, AB). Herbert Greenfield immigrated to Canada in 1892. He established a homestead north of Edmonton in 1906. By 1921, he was president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and an interim vice-president of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA).
30 Political Leaders
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that have helped define our identity, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.
Ezekiel (Ezechiel) Hart, politician, entrepreneur, militia officer (born 15 May 1770 in Trois-Rivières, Province of Quebec, died 16 September 1843 in Trois-Rivières, Province of Canada). He holds the distinction of being the second Jew to be elected to a political office in the British Empire (see Imperialism). He was also the first in Canada. Despite his business acumen and good standing in the community, Hart was not permitted to take his seat in Lower Canada’s Legislative Assembly, owing to his Jewish faith. This spurred a public debate on Jewish participation in politics. Ultimately, this concluded with an act granting political rights to Jews in Lower Canada in 1832. (See also Anti-Semitism in Canada.)
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, prime minister of Canada 1921–26, 1926–30 and 1935–48 (born 17 December 1874 in Berlin [Kitchener], ON; died 22 July 1950 in Kingsmere, QC). William Lyon Mackenzie King was the dominant political figure in an era of major changes. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948, and Prime Minister of Canada for almost 22 of those years. King was Canada’s longest-serving prime minister. He steered Canada through industrialization, much of the Great Depression, and the Second World War. By the time he left office, Canada had achieved greater independence from Britain and a stronger international voice. It had also implemented policies such as employment insurance.
Lionel Pretoria Conacher, multi-sport athlete, politician (born 24 May 1900 in Toronto, Ontario; died 26 May 1954 in Ottawa, Ontario). Deserving of his nickname, “the big train”, Lionel Conacher was Canada’s greatest all-round athlete. He was named Canada’s Athlete of the Half Century in 1950. He also served as an MPP and as Ontario athletic commissioner, as well as a federal Member of Parliament. One of only three players to win both a Stanley Cup and a Grey Cup, Conacher was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955), the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1963), the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame (1966) the Hockey Hall of Fame (1994) and Canada’s Walk of Fame (2022). The award for Canada’s male athlete of the year is named in his honour.