List of Prime Ministers of Canada

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Canada's Prime Ministers during its first century.

The Prime Minister of Canada is an official who serves as the primary minister of the Crown, chair 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 elected 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, the governor general can appoint another leader who has that support 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 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 modelled after that which existed in Britain at the time. Sir John A. Macdonald was commissioned by the Viscount Monck on 24 May 1867 to form the first government of the Canadian 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, since 1957, the incoming prime minister has sworn an oath as prime minister.[3] Before 1920, 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] Thus, although 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
Term of office Electoral mandates (Parliaments) Political party Min. Refs
1
Sir John A Macdonald circa 1878 retouched.jpg
Sir John A. Macdonald
(1815–1891)
MP for Kingston, ON
1 July 1867

5 November 1873
Liberal-Conservative Party 1st [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
7 November 1873

8 October 1878
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1873
2nd [6][7]
Pacific Scandal; Creation of the Supreme Court; Establishment of the Royal Military College; Created the office of the Auditor General
(1)
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
17 October 1878

6 June 1891
Liberal-Conservative Party 3rd [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
16 June 1891

24 November 1892
Liberal-Conservative Party 4th [10][11]
Minister without Portfolio; Succeeded on Macdonald's death due to objections to the Catholic John Thompson. In ill health; retired. First of only two prime ministers to serve while in the Senate.
4
John Thompson.jpg
Sir John Thompson
(1845–1894)
MP for Antigonish, NS
5 December 1892

12 December 1894
Liberal-Conservative Party 5th [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
21 December 1894

27 April 1896
Conservative Party (historical) 6th [14][15]
Minister of Customs; Minister of Militia and Defence; Manitoba Schools Question. Last prime minister to serve while in the Senate.
6
Chas Tupper - GG Bain.jpg
Sir Charles Tupper
(1821–1915)
Did not serve in Parliament while Prime Minister
1 May 1896

8 July 1896
  • Appointment (no parl't)
Conservative Party (historical) 7th [16][17]
Minister of Customs, Minister of Railways and Canals; 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
11 July 1896

6 October 1911
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1887
8th [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
10 October 1911

11 October 1917
Conservative Party (historical)
Named leader in 1901
9th [19][20][21]
12 October1917

10 July 1920
Unionist Party 10th
First World War; Military Service Act; Conscription Crisis of 1917; Union government; National Research Council; Introduction of income tax; Nickle Resolution; Women's suffrage; Suppression of Winnipeg General Strike; Canada sits at the Paris Peace Conference, signs the Treaty of Versailles and joins League of Nations.
9
Arthur Meighen-.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
10 July 1920

29 December 1921
National Liberal and Conservative Party
Named leader in 1920
11th [22][23]
Solicitor General of Canada, Minister of Mines, Secretary of State for Canada, Minister of the Interior, Superintendant Indian Affairs; Grand Trunk Railway placed under control of Canadian National Railways.
10
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for York North, ON until 1925
MP for Prince Albert, SK
29 December 1921

28 June 1926
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1919
12th [24][25]
Minister of Labour; Chanak Crisis; lower tariffs; reinstated Crowsnest Pass Agreement; 1923 Imperial Conference; Halibut Treaty; Continued after 1925 with third party Progressive support until resigning after his request for an election was refused by Governor General Lord Byng.
(9)
Arthur Meighen-.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
29 June 1926

25 September 1926
Conservative Party (historical) 13th [22][26]
Appointed as a result of the King–Byng Affair.
(10)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for Prince Albert, SK
25 September 1926

7 August 1930
Liberal Party 14th [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
7 August 1930

23 October 1935
Conservative Party (historical)
Named leader in 1927
15th [28][29]
Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance; Great Depression; Imperial Preference; Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission; Canadian Wheat Board; Creation of the Bank of Canada.
(10)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
MP for Prince Albert, SK until 1945
MP for Glengarry, ON
23 October 1935

15 November 1948
Liberal Party 16th [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
15 November 1948

21 June 1957
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1948
17th [31][32]
Minister of Justice, Secretary of State for External Affairs; Dominion of 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
21 June 1957

22 April 1963
Progressive Conservative Party
Named leader in 1956
18th [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
22 April 1963

20 April 1968
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1958
19th [35][36]
Secretary of State for External Affairs; Bomarc missile program; Federal involvement in 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; Unification of the Armed Forces; Canadian Centennial Celebrations.
15
Pierre Trudeau (1975).jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
MP for Mount Royal, QC
20 April 1968

3/4 June[*] 1979
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1968
20th [37]
Minister of Justice; "Trudeaumania"; "Just Society"; October Crisis and Use of the War Measures Act; Official Languages Act; Establishment of relations with Communist China; Victoria Charter; Creation of Petro-Canada; Membership in the G7; Metric Commission.
16
Joe Clark 1976.jpg
Joe Clark
(b. 1939)
MP for Yellowhead, AB
4 June 1979

2/3 March[*] 1980
Progressive Conservative Party
Named leader in 1976
21st [38]
Youngest Canadian PM. Defeated in a motion of no confidence on first budget.
(15)
Pierre Elliot Trudeau-2.jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
MP for Mount Royal, QC
3 March 1980

29/30 June[*] 1984
Liberal Party 22nd [37]
Quebec referendum, 1980; Access to Information Act; Patriation of the Canadian Constitution; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; National Energy Program; Canada Health Act; Western alienation.
17
John Tuner Cropped.jpeg
John Turner
(b. 1929)
Did not serve in Parliament while Prime Minister
30 June 1984

16/17 September[*] 1984
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1984
23rd [39]
Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance; 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
17 September 1984

24/25 June[*] 1993
Progressive Conservative Party
Named leader in 1983
24th [40]
Cancellation of the National Energy Program; Meech Lake Accord; Petro-Canada privatization; Canada-US Free Trade Agreement; Introduction of the Goods and Services Tax; Charlottetown Accord; Gulf War; Oka Crisis; Environmental Protection Act; North American Free Trade Agreement; Airbus affair.
19
Kim Campbell.jpg
Kim Campbell
(b. 1947)
MP for Vancouver Centre, BC
25 June 1993

3/4 November[*] 1993
Progressive Conservative Party
Named leader in 1993
25th [41]
Minister of Justice, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Minister of National Defence, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; 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
4 November 1993

11/12 December[*] 2003
Liberal Party
Named leader in 1990
26th [42]
Minister of Finance, Minister of Indian Affairs, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, Minister of Justice and Energy Minister, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of National Revenue, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada; Red Book; Harmonized Sales Tax; 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; Invasion of Afghanistan; Opposition to the Invasion of Iraq; Sponsorship scandal; Kyoto Protocol; Gomery Inquiry.
21
Paul martin 2004.jpg
Paul Martin
(b. 1938)
MP for LaSalle—Émard, QC
12 December 2003

5/6 February[*] 2006
Liberal Party
Named leader in 2003
27th [40]
Minister of Finance; Minority government. Civil Marriage Act; Kelowna Accord; Rejection of US Anti-Missile Treaty; Sponsorship scandal; Gomery inquiry; G20; Atlantic Accord; Martin and his father Paul Martin Sr have the honorific title of Right Honourable
22
Stephen-Harper-Cropped-2014-02-18.jpg
Stephen Harper
(b. 1959)
MP for Calgary Southwest, AB
6 February 2006

3/4 November[*] 2015
Conservative Party
Named leader in 2004
28th [43]
Accountability Act; Softwood Lumber Agreement; Afghanistan Mission; Québécois nation motion; Apologies for Residential Schools and Head Tax; 2008 Financial crisis; Coalition crisis; Afghan detainee issue; Parliamentary contempt; Withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol; Repeal of the Long-Gun Registry; Senate expenses scandal.
23
Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto-2-crop.jpg
Justin Trudeau
(b. 1971)
MP for Papineau, QC
4 November 2015

Incumbent
Liberal Party
Named leader in 2013
29th [44]
Son of 15th Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; simultaneously Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth; second father and son pair with honorific title of Right Honourable
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[45] and 1984,[46] Clark,[47] Turner,[48] Mulroney,[49] Campbell,[50] Chrétien,[51] Martin,[51] and Harper.[51]

Timeline[edit]

Justin Trudeau Stephen Harper Paul Martin Jean Chrétien Kim Campbell Brian Mulroney John Turner Joe Clark Pierre Trudeau Lester B. Pearson John Diefenbaker Louis St. Laurent R. B. Bennett William Lyon Mackenzie King Arthur Meighen Robert Borden Wilfrid Laurier Charles Tupper Mackenzie Bowell John Sparrow David Thompson John Abbott Alexander Mackenzie (politician) John A. Macdonald

Living former prime ministers[edit]

As of September 2016, there are seven 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 have died in office.

Name Term of office Date of birth
Joe Clark 1979–1980 (1939-06-05) 5 June 1939 (age 77)
John Turner
1984
(1929-06-07) 7 June 1929 (age 87)
Brian Mulroney 1984–1993 (1939-03-20) 20 March 1939 (age 77)
Kim Campbell
1993
(1947-03-10) 10 March 1947 (age 69)
Jean Chrétien 1993–2003 (1934-01-11) 11 January 1934 (age 82)
Paul Martin 2003–2006 (1938-08-28) 28 August 1938 (age 78)
Stephen Harper 2006–2015 (1959-04-30) 30 April 1959 (age 57)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]