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Category Archives: Diplomacy

Justin Trudeau

Few countries in the world have a younger and better educated Prime Minister than the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This well educated young man is the second youngest Prime Minister of Canada, second only to Joe Clark. And he is the first elected Prime Minister who is the child of a previous elected Prime Minister. He is the son of Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada. He has performed some amazing feats, one of which was to lead his Liberal party from third place (by the number of seats) to first place, thus winning a landslide victory. He had the largest increment in number of seats of any party in Canadian history. It is not surprising, then, that Forbes Magazine ranks him among the most powerful persons in the world. He stands 69th in that list.

Justin Trudeau was born Christmas eve in 1971, while his father was still in office. Despite repeated protests from his wife, Pierre Trudeau was permitted into the delivery room. Little did they know that their son would follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact, in April 1972, American President Nixon raised a toast “Tonight, we’ll dispense with formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada — to Justin Pierre Trudeau.” The Prime Minister noted that should this come true, he would want his son to have “the grace and skill of the President” (Nixon). In April 1972, Nixon gave a champagne toast during a buffet meal. His remarks have become known as the Nixon prophecy. “Tonight, we’ll dispense with formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada — to Justin Pierre Trudeau.”

 

In 2009, Trudeau spoke of his parent’s marriage. “They loved each other incredibly, passionately, completely. But there was 30 years between them and my Mom never was an equal partner in what encompassed my father’s life, his duty, his country.”

Since childhood, Justin was given the “normal” treatment, to make sure that he was raised without any unreasonable privileges. He was sent to a public school, and used the school bus (as opposed to a limousine) to his school.

Later in life, Justin Trudeau has used his public status to promote various causes. For instance, he and his family, started the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign for winter sports safety in 2000, two years after his brother, Michel Trudeau, died in an avalanche during a ski trip.

In 2002, Trudeau criticized the British Columbia’s decision to suspend its funding for a public avalanche warning system.

In 2005, Trudeau fought against a proposed $100 million zinc mine that he argued would poison the Nahanni River, a United Nations World Heritage Site in the Northwest Territories.

He became involved with the Liberal Party from a young age, and that involvement progressed over the years. He won the party’s nomination in 2007, and in 2015, he led his party to win the elections in one of the biggest upsets in the Canadian political history. The rest, so far, is history.
For a good laugh, just watch the short video below. Some Americans’ thought on who Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is.

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Trudeaumania

Canada is a great country, having seen mostly peace for all of its existence, and being one of the countries whose history is almost impeccably laudable. Building that amazing history has partly been due to the fact that our leaders have mostly done the right thing for our country. And when the topic of good leaders come, our modern history has seen one whose name always stands out. Pierre Trudeau, the father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been an inspiration for an entire generation, with his wonderful period as a Prime Minister.

A personality that dominated the entire country with such ferocity as never seen in our country’s history, Pierre Trudeau had a great career as a popular political figure, loved by many. Beginning his career as a lawyer and activist in Quebec politics, Trudeau joined the Liberal Party in 1960s, and was quickly appointed the Parliamentary Secretary of Lester B. Pearson. He went on to become the Minister of Justice of the country. Such was his following that some even give it the term “Trudeaumania.” He stayed as Prime Minister for a long period, before resigning from his post finally in 1984. His leadership has been seen as a remarkable, and often favorably polarizing period for Canada.


An example of him holding tight to his decision in a crisis is the FLQ episode. Canadians were shocked on October 19, 1970 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the House of Commons passed the War Measures Act.

The federal and Quebec governments where struggling with the Front de Liberation du Quebec(FLQ). The had kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross on October 5. They held him for a ransom of $500,000 and demanded that the CBC broadcast the FLQ manifesto.

Then they abducted Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte on October 10; his body was discovered eight days later.

At one point, from the steps of parliament, the press asked him about the extreme implementation of the War Measures Act, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied, “Just watch me.” That statement would forever become a part of Trudeau’s legacy.

Some of his biggest national achievements during his term as Prime Minister were suppressing the Quebec sovereign movement, and building Canada as a nation with unity as a core principle. He is also known for introducing bilingualism as official policy of Canada, and for his Patriation of the Constitution. It was under him that Canada stopped being ruled by British laws that could be changed by the British, and it was the moment when Canada finally got sovereignty. This event has had him hailed as the “father of modern Canada”.

PM Pierre Trudeau doing a pirouette behind the Queen

Every great person has critics, and so did Pierre Trudeau. His critics impugn him with claims of arrogance and poor economic management, and of having centralized the management of Canada (which has been hailed as a very good thing by others), thus robbing Quebec of the culture and economy of Prairies. But whatever the naysayers speak, Trudeau has been consistently shown up in a list of the greatest Prime Ministers of Canada.

Pierre Trudeau has been considered one of the most loved, and the most hated of the Canadian Prime Ministers. This is because of the charisma and confidence that he held, along with his focus on uniting Canada and making sure that the country has one holistic identity. But he is also known for his antipathy towards his political opponents, and his dislike for any sort of compromise have also gained him some critics. In fact, it has been said the it was Mackenzie King, who was the only other person who had matched such levels of electoral success as Pierre Trudeau. This mad made Canada what it is today, fought for recognition, and suppressed any factional uprisings to make the country whole. That is something that is going to be on the history books forever.

 

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Happy (Belated) Birthday, John!

Yesterday, January 11, 2015, was Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th Birthday.  I believe that such a date must be recognized.  And so, today, I will tell you a few things to know about him.

Canadian election campaign poster from 1891

Figure 1: English: “The Old Flag – The Old Policy – The Old Leader”. 1891 Canadian election campaign poster for Sir John A. Macdonald. Français : “Le vieux drapeau, les vieux principes, le vieux chef”. Campagne électorale de 1891.

Basic details of his life are:

  • He was born John Alexander Macdonald, on January 11, 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland, (UK)
  • He died June 6, 1891 at the age of 76 in Ottawa, Ontario
  • His final resting place is at the Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, Ontario
  • He was a Conservative
  • He married twice, first with Isabella Clark until her death (1843-1857) and Agnes Bernard until the day he died (1867-1891)
  • He had 3 children
  • He was a Lawyer
  • Though he was brought up a Presbyterian, he converted to Anglican
  • He was the first Prime Minister of Canada (1867–1873, 1878–1891)
  • The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century
  • Macdonald served 19 years as Canadian Prime Minister (only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer)
Animation of the changes to the borders of Canada

Figure 2: Animation of the changes to the borders of Canada. Date: 15 July 2009. Source Author: Golbez (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Golbez)

Macdonald was designated as the first Prime Minister of the new nation, and served in that capacity for most of the rest of his life, losing office for five years in the 1870s over the Pacific Scandal (corruption in the financing of the Canadian Pacific Railway). After regaining his place in the government, he saw the railroad through to completion in 1885, and it helped unite Canada as one nation. Macdonald is credited with creating a Canadian Confederation despite many obstacles, and expanding what was a relatively small country to cover the northern half of North America. By the time of his death in 1891, Canada had secured most of the territory it occupies today.  Figure 2 shows how the boundaries in Canada have changed since Confederation.

John initially attended local schools. When he was aged 10, his family scraped together the money to send him to Midland District Grammar School in Kingston. Macdonald’s formal schooling ended at 15, a common school-leaving age at a time when only children from the most prosperous families were able to attend university.  Nevertheless, Macdonald later regretted leaving school when he did, remarking to his private secretary Joseph Pope that if he had attended university, he might have embarked on a literary career. I wonder how different our history would be if hadn’t persued politics.

In March 1844, Macdonald was asked by local businessmen to stand as Conservative candidate for Kingston in the upcoming legislative election.  Macdonald followed the contemporary custom of supplying the voters with large quantities of alcohol.  In the era preceding the secret ballot when votes were publicly declared, Macdonald defeated his opponent, Anthony Manahan, by 275 “shouts” to 42 when the two-day election concluded on 15 October 1844.

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal believes that Macdonald’s true monument is Canada itself:

“Without Macdonald we’d be a country that begins somewhere at the Manitoba-Ontario border that probably goes throughout the east. Newfoundland would be like Alaska and I think that would also go for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. We’d be buying our oil from the United States. It would diminish our quality of life and range of careers, and our role in the world would have been substantially reduced.”

Macdonald’s biographers note his contribution to establishing Canada as a nation. Swainson suggests that Macdonald’s wish for a free and tolerant Canada became part of its national outlook:

“He not only helped to create Canada, but contributed immeasurably to its character.”

Gwyn said of Macdonald, his accomplishments were staggering: Confederation above all, but almost as important, if not more so, extending the country across the continent by a railway that was, objectively, a fiscal and economic insanity … On the ledger’s other side, he was responsible for the CPR scandal, the execution of Louis Riel, and for the head tax on Chinese workers. He’s thus not easy to scan. His private life was mostly barren. Yet few other Canadian leaders — Pierre Trudeau, John Diefenbaker for a time, Wilfrid Laurier — had the same capacity to inspire love.

To read more about Sir John A, I suggest CBC Archives where you can find a host of multimedia content; another impressive site would be the Dictionary of Canadian Biography article by J. K. Johnson and P. B. Waite; if you enjoy looking at archived documents, the best place would be the Library and Archives Canada: gallery of papers; another great place is the The Canadian Encyclopedia.

 

 

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Image

… the end of the world …

"Edmonton isn't really the end of the world -- although you can see it from there".

 

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Diplomatic Faux Pas

There was a controversial phrase in a speech delivered on July 24, 1967, during an official visit to Canada under the pretext of attending Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec. So let me introduce you to President Charles de Gaulle of France.

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Wegmann, Ludwig – Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), B 145 Bild-F015892-0010

The Canadian federal government had been concerned about President de Gaulle for two reasons. One, the French government had not sent a representative to the funeral service for Governor General Georges Vanier on March 5, 1967, even though Vanier and his wife, Pauline, had been personal friends of de Gaulle since 1940; and two because later in April, de Gaulle did not attend the 50th anniversary ceremonies commemorating the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.

In the spring of 1966, as part of the Expo ’67 diplomatic protocols, De Gaulle and all world leaders whose countries had an exhibit at the fair were invited to visit Canada during the spring and summer of 1967, and a few months later, de Gaulle was also sent a separate invitation to visit Quebec by Quebec premier Daniel Johnson. Although a visiting head of state, the president did not arrive in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as would be conventional protocol. Instead, he arrived in Quebec City, the province of Quebec’s capital city. There, De Gaulle was cheered enthusiastically, while the new governor general, Roland Michener, was booed by the same crowd when “God Save the Queen” was played at his arrival.

On July 24, de Gaulle arrived in Montreal and was driven up the Chemin du Roy to Montreal City Hall, where Mayor Jean Drapeau and Premier Johnson waited. De Gaulle was not scheduled to speak that evening, but the crowd chanted for him.  He said to Drapeau: “I have to speak to those people who are calling for me”.  An opportune momen for De Gaulle to voice what he had prepared.

He stepped out onto the balcony and spoke to the assembled masses, which was also broadcast live on radio. In his speech he commented that his drive down the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, lined as it had been with cheering crowds, reminded him of his triumphant return to Paris after the liberation from Nazi Germany. The speech concluded with the words “Vive Montréal ! Vive le Québec !” (“Long live Montreal! Long live Quebec!”), but he then added, “Vive le Québec libre ! Vive, vive, vive le Canada français ! Et vive la France !” (“Long live free Quebec! Long live, long live, long live French Canada! And long live France!”),

This statement, coming from the French head of state, was considered a serious breach of diplomatic protocol.  It emboldened the Quebec sovereignty movement, and produced tensions between the leadership of the two countries. The crowd’s reaction to De Gaulle’s phrase was emotional, and has been described as frenzied,Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson rebuked de Gaulle with an official statement, delivered to the French Embassy on July 25, and he read it on national television that evening.  He said “The people of Canada are free. Every province in Canada is free. Canadians do not need to be liberated. Indeed, many thousands of Canadians gave their lives in two world wars in the liberation of France and other European countries.”

There was an uproar afterwards, which resulted in de Gaulle cutting short his visit to Canada.  The day after the speech, de Gaulle visited Expo ’67.  The next day, instead of continuing his visit on to Ottawa, where he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Pearson, he decided to return to France on a French military jet plane.

De Gaulle was also heavily criticized by a large part of the French media for his breach of international protocol, in particular by Le Monde.

I would suggest visiting Ici Radio Canada for a video of the speech in question.

 

 

 

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