List of Prime Ministers of Canada

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Canada's Prime Ministers from 1867 to 1967

The Prime Minister of Canada is an official who serves as the primary Minister of the Crown, chairperson of the Cabinet, and thus Head of Government of Canada. Officially, the Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor General of Canada, but by constitutional convention the Prime Minister must have the confidence of the House of Commons. Normally, this is the leader of the party caucus with the greatest number of seats in the House, but if that leader lacks support of the majority in the House, the Governor General can appoint another leader who has the support of a majority, or may dissolve parliament and call a new election. By constitutional convention, a prime minister holds a seat in parliament, and since the early 20th century this has more specifically meant the elected House of Commons.[1]

The office is not outlined in any of the documents that constitute the written portion of the Constitution of Canada; executive authority is formally vested in the sovereign and exercised on his or her behalf by the Governor General. The prime ministership is part of Canada's constitutional convention tradition. The office was initially modelled after the job as it existed in Britain at the time. Sir John A. Macdonald was formally commissioned by Lord Monck on 24 May 1867 to form the first Canadian Government under Confederation. On 1 July, 1867 the First Ministry assumed office.[2]

The date for which a Prime Minister begins his or her term has been determined by the date that he or she is sworn into his or her portfolio, as an oath of office as Prime Minister is not required.[3] However, starting in 1957 the incoming Prime Minister has sworn an oath as Prime Minister; as of 2006, this tradition has continued.[3] Before 1920, the Prime Ministers' resignations were accepted immediately by the Governor General, and the last day of the ministries were the date he died, or the date of resignation.[3] Since 1920, the outgoing Prime Minister has only formally resigned when the new government is ready to be formed.[3] The Interpretation Act of 1967 states that "where an appointment is made effective or terminates on a specified day, that appointment is considered to be effective or to terminate after the end of the previous day."[3] Although, traditionally, the outgoing Prime Minister formally resigns only hours before the incoming ministry swears their oaths, both during the day, the ministries are effectively changed at midnight, the night before. Some sources, including the Parliament of Canada, apply this convention as far back as 1917.[4]

Prime Ministers[edit]

Abbreviation key: No.: Incumbent No., Min.: Ministry
Colour key:
Provinces key: AB: Alberta, BC: British Columbia, MB: Manitoba, NS: Nova Scotia, ON: Ontario, QC: Quebec, SK: Saskatchewan
No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
District
Min. Term of office Electoral mandates (Parliaments) Political party Refs
1
(1 of 2)
Sir John A Macdonald circa 1878 retouched.jpg
Sir John A. Macdonald
(1815–1891)
MP for Kingston, ON
1st 1 July
1867
5 November
1873
Liberal-Conservative Party [2][5]
Minister of Justice; Integration of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory into Canada; Manitoba Act; Red River Rebellion; British Columbia and Prince Edward Island join confederation; Creation of the North-West Mounted Police; Resigned over Pacific Scandal
2
Alexander McKenzie3.jpg
Alexander Mackenzie
(1822–1892)
MP for Lambton, ON
2nd 7 November
1873
8 October
1878
Liberal Party [6][7]
Pacific Scandal; Creation of the Supreme Court; Establishment of the Royal Military College; Created the office of the Auditor General
1
(2 of 2)
Sir John A Macdonald circa 1878 retouched.jpg
Sir John A. Macdonald
(1815–1891)
MP for Victoria, BC until 1882
MP for Carleton, ON until 1887
MP for Kingston, ON
3rd 17 October
1878
6 June
1891
Liberal-Conservative Party [8][9]
National Policy; Railway to the Pacific; North-West Rebellion; Hanging of Louis Riel. Died in office (stroke).
3
Johnabbott.jpg
Sir John Abbott
(1821–1893)
Senator for Quebec
4th 16 June
1891
24 November
1892
Liberal-Conservative Party [10][11]
Succeeded on Macdonald's death due to objections to the Catholic John Thompson. In ill health; retired.
4
John Thompson.jpg
Sir John Thompson
(1845–1894)
MP for Antigonish, NS
5th 5 December
1892
12 December
1894
Liberal-Conservative Party [12][13]
Minister of Justice; First Catholic Prime Minister. Manitoba Schools Question. Died in office (heart attack).
5
SirMackenzieBowell.jpg
Sir Mackenzie Bowell
(1823–1917)
Senator for Ontario
6th 21 December
1894
27 April
1896
Conservative Party (historical) [14][15]
Manitoba Schools Question.
6
Chas Tupper - GG Bain.jpg
Sir Charles Tupper
(1821–1915)
Did not serve in Parliament while Prime Minister
7th 1 May
1896
8 July
1896
  • Inter-election appt. (no parl't)
Conservative Party (historical) [16][17]
Oldest Canadian PM. Aimed to defeat Patrons of Industry, but dominated by Manitoba Schools Question. Never sat in parliament as Prime Minister.
7
Laurier-sm.jpg
Sir Wilfrid Laurier
(1841–1919)
MP for Quebec East, QC
8th 11 July
1896
6 October
1911
Liberal Party [18][19]
Manitoba Schools Question; Boer War; Alberta and Saskatchewan created; Creation of the Royal Canadian Navy; Reciprocity with the US; Department of External Affairs established; First French Canadian Prime Minister, removed the right of status Indians to vote.
8
Sir Robert Laird Borden, 1915.png
Sir Robert Borden
(1854–1937)
MP for Halifax, NS until 1917
MP for Kings, NS
9th 10 October
1911
11 October
1917
Conservative Party (historical) [19][20][21]
10th 12 October
1917
10 July
1920
Unionist Party
First World War; Military Service Act; Conscription Crisis of 1917; Creation of Union government; Creation of the National Research Council; Introduction of income tax; Winnipeg General Strike; Nickle Resolution; Women's suffrage; Canada demands and is granted a seat at the Paris Peace Conference, signs the Treaty of Versailles and joins League of Nations.
9
(1 of 2)
Arthur Meighen-.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
11th 10 July
1920
29 December
1921
National Liberal and Conservative Party [22][23]
Grand Trunk Railway placed under control of Canadian National Railways.
10
(1 of 3)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for York North, ON until 1925
MP for Prince Albert, SK
12th 29 December
1921
28 June
1926
Liberal Party [24][25]
Chanak Crisis; lower tariffs; reinstated Crowsnest Pass Agreement; 1923 Imperial Conference; Halibut Treaty; Meighen had won a plurality of seats in the 1925 election, but King continued in office with the unofficial support of the third party Progressives until corruption scandal in the Department of Customs and Excise led to his government's defeat on a confidence vote. The King-Byng Affair saw the Governor General refuse King's request for a new election causing him to resign and Meighen to be invited to form a government.
9
(2 of 2)
Arthur Meighen-.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
13th 29 June
1926
25 September
1926
Conservative Party (historical) [22][26]
Appointed as a result of the King–Byng Affair.
10
(2 of 3)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for Prince Albert, SK
14th 25 September
1926
7 August
1930
Liberal Party [24][27]
Balfour Declaration; Introduction of old age pensions; first Canadian envoys with full diplomatic status sent to foreign countries (USA, France, Japan); Great Depression.
11
Richard Bedford Bennett.jpg
R. B. Bennett
(1870–1947)
MP for Calgary West, AB
15th 7 August
1930
23 October
1935
Conservative Party (historical) [28][29]
Great Depression; Imperial Preference; Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission; Canadian Wheat Board; Creation of the Bank of Canada.
10
(3 of 3)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for Prince Albert, SK until 1945
MP for Glengarry, ON
16th 23 October
1935
15 November
1948
Liberal Party [24][30]
Creation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; National Film Board of Canada; Unemployment Insurance Act of 1940; Nationalization of the Bank of Canada; Second World War; Conscription Crisis of 1944; Canada's entry into the United Nations; Trans-Canada Airlines; Gouzenko Affair.
12
Louisstlaurent.jpg
Louis St. Laurent
(1882–1973)
MP for Quebec East, QC
17th 15 November
1948
21 June
1957
Liberal Party [31][32]
Newfoundland joins confederation; right of appeal to Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ended; Canada's entrance into NATO; Suez Crisis; Creation of the United Nations Emergency Force; London Declaration; Newfoundland Act; Equalization; Trans-Canada Highway; St. Lawrence Seaway; Trans-Canada Pipeline; Pipeline Debate.
13
John G. Diefenbaker.jpg
John Diefenbaker
(1895–1979)
MP for Prince Albert, SK
18th 21 June
1957
22 April
1963
Progressive Conservative Party [33][34]
Avro Arrow cancellation; Coyne Affair; Cuban Missile Crisis; NORAD; Canadian Bill of Rights; Allowed status aboriginals to vote in federal elections 1960; Alouette 1 satellite programme.
14
Lester B. Pearson 1957.jpg
Lester B. Pearson
(1897–1972)
MP for Algoma East, ON
19th 22 April
1963
20 April
1968
Liberal Party [35][36]
Bomarc missile program; Introduction of Canadian universal healthcare; Canada Pension Plan; Canada Student Loans; Creation of a new Canadian flag; Auto Pact; Rejection of troop deployment to Vietnam; Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism; Creation of the Canadian Forces; 1967 Canadian Centennial celebrations.
15
(1 of 2)
Pierre Trudeau in 1968.jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
MP for Mount Royal, QC
20th 20 April
1968
3/4 June[*]
1979
Liberal Party [37]
Minister of Justice; "Trudeaumania"; "Just Society"; October Crisis; Use of the War Measures Act; Official Languages Act; Establishment of relations with China; Banned the sale of nuclear technology to India and Pakistan, both NPT non-signatories, after India used plutonium from Canada's CIRUS reactor for conducting its Smiling Buddha nuclear test; Creation of Petro-Canada; Membership in the G7; Metric Commission.
16
Joe Clark 1976.jpg
Joe Clark
(b. 1939)
MP for Yellowhead, AB
21st 4 June
1979
2/3 March[*]
1980
Progressive Conservative Party [38]
Youngest Canadian PM. Defeated in a motion of no confidence on tax proposals.
15
(2 of 2)
Pierre Trudeau in 1968.jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
MP for Mount Royal, QC
22nd 3 March
1980
29/30 June[*]
1984
Liberal Party [37]
Introduction of the NEP; Quebec referendum, 1980; Access to Information Act; Patriation of the Canadian Constitution; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Canada Health Act; Western alienation.
17
Fmr CDN PM John Turner.jpg
John Turner
(b. 1929)
Did not serve in Parliament while Prime Minister
23rd 30 June
1984
16/17 September[*]
1984
Liberal Party [39]
Trudeau Patronage Appointments. Never sat in parliament as Prime Minister.
18
Mulroney.jpg
Brian Mulroney
(b. 1939)
MP for Manicouagan, QC until 1988
MP for Charlevoix, QC
24th 17 September
1984
24/25 June[*]
1993
Progressive Conservative Party [40]
Cancellation of the NEP; Meech Lake Accord; Air India bombing; Canada-US Free Trade Agreement; Introduction of the GST; Charlottetown Accord; Good relations with Ronald Reagan; Petro-Canada privatization; Gulf War; École Polytechnique massacre; Oka Crisis; Environmental Protection Act; NAFTA; Airbus affair.
19
KimCampbell.jpg
Kim Campbell
(b. 1947)
MP for Vancouver Centre, BC
25th 25 June
1993
3/4 November[*]
1993
Progressive Conservative Party [41]
First female Prime Minister of Canada. Defeated and lost her seat in 1993 election.
20
Jean Chretien 2010.jpg
Jean Chrétien
(b. 1934)
MP for Saint-Maurice, QC
26th 4 November
1993
11/12 December[*]
2003
Liberal Party [42]
Red Book; HST; Quebec referendum, 1995; Clarity Act; Assassination attempt; Kosovo War; 1997 Red River Flood; Social Union Framework Agreement; Creation of Nunavut Territory; Youth Criminal Justice Act; Shawinigan Handshake; Invasion of Afghanistan; Opposition to the Invasion of Iraq; Sponsorship scandal; Kyoto Protocol; Gomery Inquiry.
21
Paul Martin in 2011 crop.jpg
Paul Martin
(b. 1938)
MP for LaSalle—Émard, QC
27th 12 December
2003
5/6 February[*]
2006
Liberal Party [40]
Minority government. Civil Marriage Act; Kelowna Accord; Rejection of US Anti-Missile Treaty; Sponsorship scandal; Gomery inquiry; G20; Atlantic Accord.
22
Stephen Harper by Remy Steinegger.jpg
Stephen Harper
(b. 1959)
MP for Calgary Southwest, AB
28th 6 February
2006
Incumbent Conservative Party of Canada [43]
Federal Accountability Act; GST Reduction; Afghan Mission Extension; Chuck Cadman Affair; Québécois nation motion; Apology for Chinese Head Tax; Israel-Lebanon Conflict; Veterans' Bill of Rights; Residential Schools Apology; Financial crisis of 2007-2010; 2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute; 2009 Budget; Abousfian Abdelrazik; 2009 flu pandemic; Canadian Afghan detainee issue; CF-35 procurement deal; Overturned the 1974 ban on the sale of nuclear technology to NPT non-signatory nations by signing a nuclear deal with India; Parliamentary contempt; Withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol; Withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan; Repeal of the Long-Gun Registry; Succession to the Throne Act, 2013; Canadian Senate expenses scandal; Office of Religious Freedom.
Min. Minority government
LS Party won the election, but prime minister lost own seat
* The Interpretation Act of 1967 states that "where an appointment is made effective or terminates on a specified day, that appointment is considered to be effective or to terminate after the end of the previous day." Under the Act, Prime Ministers' tenures are therefore credited as having concluded at the end of their last full day in office (the earlier date given), although their resignation was received by the Governor General on the following day. This provision applies to Trudeau in 1979[44] and 1984,[45] Clark,[46] Turner,[47] Mulroney,[48] Campbell,[49] Chrétien,[50] and Martin.[50]

Living former Prime Ministers[edit]

As of October 2014, there are six living former Prime Ministers of Canada, the oldest being John Turner (born 1929). The most recent former Prime Minister to die was Pierre Trudeau (1968–1979, 1980–1984), on 28 September 2000. John A. Macdonald (1867–1873, 1878–1891) and John Thompson (1892–1894) are the only serving Prime Ministers to die in office.

Name Term of office Date of birth
Joe Clark 1979–1980 (1939-06-05) 5 June 1939 (age 75)
John Turner 1984 (1929-06-07) 7 June 1929 (age 85)
Brian Mulroney 1984–1993 (1939-03-20) 20 March 1939 (age 75)
Kim Campbell 1993 (1947-03-10) 10 March 1947 (age 67)
Jean Chrétien 1993–2003 (1934-01-11) 11 January 1934 (age 80)
Paul Martin 2003–2006 (1938-08-28) 28 August 1938 (age 76)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]