List of prime ministers of Canada

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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. Twenty-three people have served as prime minister. 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 the 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]

Model[edit]

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 their 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 the United Kingdom at the time. 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]

Term[edit]

The date for which a prime minister begins their term has been determined by the date that he or she is sworn into their 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] Two prime ministers have died in office: John A. Macdonald (1867–1873, 1878–1891), and John Thompson (1892–1894). All others have resigned, either after losing an election or upon retirement.

Prime ministers[edit]

Abbreviation key: No.: Incumbent number, Min.: Ministry, Refs: References
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)
Term of office Electoral mandates (Assembly) Political party Riding Cabinet Ref.
1
(1 of 2)
Macdonald1872.jpg
John A. Macdonald
(1815–1891)
1 July
1867
5 November
1873
Liberal–Conservative MP for Kingston, ON 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 MacKenzie - portrait.jpg
Alexander Mackenzie
(1822–1892)
7 November
1873
8 October
1878
Liberal
(named leader in 1873)
MP for Lambton, ON 2nd [6][7]
Pacific Scandal; Creation of the Supreme Court; Passage of the Indian Act; Establishment of the Royal Military College; Created the office of the Auditor General

(2 of 2)
Sir John A Macdonald circa 1878 retouched.jpg
John A. Macdonald
(1815–1891)
17 October
1878
6 June
1891
Liberal–Conservative MP for Victoria, BC
(1878–1882)
MP for Carleton, ON
(1882–1887)
MP for Kingston, ON
(1887–1891)
3rd [8][9]
National Policy; Railway to the Pacific; North-West Rebellion; Hanging of Louis Riel. Died in office (stroke).
3
Johnabbott.jpg
John Abbott
(1821–1893)
16 June
1891
24 November
1892
Liberal–Conservative Senator for Quebec 4th [10][11]
Minister without Portfolio; Succeeded on Macdonald's death due to objections to the Catholic John Thompson. In ill health; retired. First prime minister born in what would become Canada, and first of only two prime ministers to serve while in the Senate.
4
Sir John SD Thompson.jpg
John Thompson
(1845–1894)
5 December
1892
12 December
1894
Liberal–Conservative MP for Antigonish, NS 5th [12][13]
Minister of Justice; First Catholic Prime Minister. Manitoba Schools Question. Died in office (heart attack).
5
Hastings County Archives HC01485 (35445640115).jpg
Mackenzie Bowell
(1823–1917)
21 December
1894
27 April
1896
Conservative Senator for Ontario 6th [14][15]
Minister of Customs; Minister of Militia and Defence; Manitoba Schools Question. Last prime minister to serve while in the Senate and last prime minister not to be born in Canada or pre-Canada until Turner.
6
Chas Tupper - GG Bain.jpg
Charles Tupper
(1821–1915)
1 May
1896
8 July
1896
Conservative Did not hold a seat in legislature 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
The Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier Photo C (HS85-10-16873) - medium crop.jpg
Wilfrid Laurier
(1841–1919)
11 July
1896
6 October
1911
Liberal
(named leader in 1887)
MP for Quebec East, QC 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
Robert Borden
(1854–1937)
10 October
1911
10 July
1920
Government (Unionist)
(named leader in 1901)
MP for Halifax, NS
(1911–1917)
MP for Kings, NS
(1917–1920)
9th
(1911–17)
10th
(1917–20)
[19][20][21]
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
(1 of 2)
Arthur Meighen-.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
10 July
1920
29 December
1921
Conservative
(named leader in 1920)
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB 11th [22][23]
Solicitor General of Canada, Minister of Mines, Secretary of State for Canada, Minister of the Interior, Superintendent Indian Affairs; Grand Trunk Railway placed under control of Canadian National Railways.
10
(1 of 3)
King1922.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
29 December
1921
28 June
1926
Liberal
(named leader in 1919)
MP for York North, ON
(1921–1925)
MP for Prince Albert, SK
(1925–1926)
12th [LS] [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.

(2 of 2)
Former PM Arthur Meighen.jpg
Arthur Meighen
(1874–1960)
29 June
1926
25 September
1926
Conservative MP for Portage la Prairie, MB 13th [22][26]
Appointed as a result of the King–Byng Affair.

(2 of 3)
William Lyon Mackenzie King - William Lyon Mackenzie King (39973407352).jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
25 September
1926
7 August
1930
Liberal MP for Prince Albert, SK 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)
7 August
1930
23 October
1935
Conservative
(named leader in 1927)
MP for Calgary West, AB 15th [28][29]
Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance; Great Depression; Imperial Preference; Statute of Westminster; Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission; Canadian Wheat Board; Creation of the Bank of Canada.

(3 of 3)
Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(1874–1950)
23 October
1935
15 November
1948
Liberal MP for Prince Albert, SK
(1935–1945)
MP for Glengarry, ON
(1945–1948)
16th [LS][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; Japanese Canadian internment; Conscription Crisis of 1944; Canada's entry into the United Nations; Trans-Canada Airlines; Gouzenko Affair. First and to date only Prime Minister to serve three non-consecutive terms.
12
Louis St. Laurent 1954 37112.jpg
Louis St. Laurent
(1882–1973)
15 November
1948
21 June
1957
Liberal
(named leader in 1948)
MP for Quebec East, QC 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 Diefenbaker 1961.png
John Diefenbaker
(1895–1979)
21 June
1957
22 April
1963
Progressive Conservative
(named leader in 1956)
MP for Prince Albert, SK 18th [33][34]
Avro Arrow cancellation; Coyne Affair; Cuban Missile Crisis; NORAD; Establishment of Board of Broadcast Governors; Canadian Bill of Rights; Allowed status aboriginals to vote in federal elections 1960; Alouette 1 satellite programme.
14
Lester B. Pearson at desk (crop).jpg
Lester B. Pearson
(1897–1972)
22 April
1963
20 April
1968
Liberal
(named leader in 1958)
MP for Algoma East, ON 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
(1 of 2)
Pierre Trudeau (1975).jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
20 April
1968
3 June
1979
Liberal
(named leader in 1968)
MP for Mount Royal, QC 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, Metrication of Canada, Creation of Via Rail.
16
JoeClark.jpg
Joe Clark
(b. 1939)
3 June
1979
2 March
1980
Progressive Conservative
(named leader in 1976)
MP for Yellowhead, AB 21st [*][38]
Youngest Canadian PM. Defeated in a motion of no confidence on first budget.

(2 of 2)
Pierre Elliot Trudeau-2.jpg
Pierre Trudeau
(1919–2000)
2 March
1980
29 June
1984
Liberal
(named leader in 1968)
MP for Mount Royal, QC 22nd [*][37]
1980 Quebec referendum; Access to Information Act; Patriation of the Canadian Constitution; Montreal Protocol; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; National Energy Program; Canada Health Act; Western alienation.
17
Turner 1968 cropped.jpg
John Turner
(1929–2020)
29 June
1984
16 September
1984
Liberal
(named leader in 1984)
Did not hold a seat in legislature 23rd [*][39]
Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance; Trudeau Patronage Appointments. Never sat in parliament as Prime Minister. First Prime Minister since Bowell not to have been born in Canada.
18
Brian Mulroney (cropped).jpg
Brian Mulroney
(b. 1939)
16 September
1984
24 June
1993
Progressive Conservative
(named leader in 1983)
MP for Manicouagan, QC
(1984–1988)
MP for Charlevoix, QC
(1988–1993)
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; Privatization of Air Canada, North American Free Trade Agreement; Nunavut Land Claims Agreement; Airbus affair.
19
KimCampbell.jpg
Kim Campbell
(b. 1947)
24 June
1993
3 November
1993
Progressive Conservative
(named leader in 1993)
MP for Vancouver Centre, BC 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 Chrétien 2010.jpg
Jean Chrétien
(b. 1934)
3 November
1993
11 December
2003
Liberal
(named leader in 1990)
MP for Saint-Maurice, QC 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; Privatization of Canadian National Railway, Red Book; Harmonized Sales Tax; 1995 Quebec referendum; Clarity Act; Assassination attempt; Kosovo War; 1997 Red River flood; Social Union Framework Agreement; Creation of Nunavut Territory; Youth Criminal Justice Act; Operation Yellow Ribbon; Invasion of Afghanistan; Opposition to the Invasion of Iraq; Sponsorship scandal; Kyoto Protocol; Gomery Inquiry.
21
Paul martin 2004 (cropped) 02.jpg
Paul Martin
(b. 1938)
11 December
2003
5 February
2006
Liberal
(named leader in 2003)
MP for LaSalle—Émard, QC 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 by Remy Steinegger Infobox.jpg
Stephen Harper
(b. 1959)
5 February
2006
3 November
2015
Conservative
(named leader in 2004)
MP for Calgary Southwest, AB 28th [*][43]
Accountability Act; Softwood Lumber Agreement; Afghanistan Mission; 2006 Ontario terrorism plot; Québécois nation motion; 2008 Financial crisis; Coalition crisis; Economic Action Plan; Afghan detainee issue; Parliamentary contempt; Withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol; Repeal of the Long-Gun Registry; Senate expenses scandal; Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.
23
Justin Trudeau March 2022.jpg
Justin Trudeau
(b. 1971)
3 November
2015
incumbent Liberal
(named leader in 2013)
MP for Papineau, QC 29th [44]
Eldest son of 15th Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; also served as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth; Senate appointment reform; Paris Agreement; 150th anniversary celebrations; Canada–Europe Trade Agreement; Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; legalization of cannabis; United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement; SNC-Lavalin affair; 2020 Canadian pipeline and railway protests; COVID-19 pandemic; WE Charity scandal; Convoy protest and use of the Emergencies Act; weapon shipment for defence of Ukraine; confidence and supply agreement with NDP.
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, although their resignation was received by the Governor General on the following day. This provision applies to P. 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 TrudeauStephen HarperPaul MartinJean ChrétienKim CampbellBrian MulroneyJohn TurnerJoe ClarkPierre Elliott TrudeauLester B. PearsonJohn DiefenbakerLouis St. LaurentR. B. BennettWilliam Lyon Mackenzie KingArthur MeighenRobert BordenWilfrid LaurierCharles TupperMackenzie BowellJohn Sparrow David ThompsonJohn AbbottAlexander Mackenzie (politician)John A. Macdonald

Living former prime ministers[edit]

As of 6 October 2022, there are six living former Canadian prime ministers:

Gallery[edit]

Canada's prime ministers during its first century

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "Guide to Canadian Ministries since Confederation". Privy Council Office. 14 October 2009. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]