Tag Archives: Government

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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Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada

Did you know that as early as 1501, Portuguese explorers enslaved 50 Amerindian men and women in Newfoundland and Labrador?  In 1619, slavery began in North America with the arrival in Jamestown, Virginia of a Dutch slave trading ship carrying 20 Africans.  Not too long after that, in 1628, a six-year-old boy from Madagascar is the first Black person to appear in records as being brought directly from Africa and sold as a slave in New France for 50 crowns. He is later baptized and given the name Olivier Le Jeune.

Today in 1830 marks the day that Josiah Henson, his wife and four children moved from Maryland to Upper Canada (now Ontario) via the Underground Railway. If you don’t remember the name, perhaps you know his story.  It is thought that Harriet Beecher Stowe modelled her story in Uncle Tom’s Cabin on his life.  The book, by the way, that Abraham Lincoln said started the U.S. Civil War, was published on March 20, 1852.

Photo of Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson in 1877

Henson was born on June 15, 1789 in Charles County, Maryland; he died on May 5, 1883, at the age of 93 in Dresden, Ontario.

In 1793,  Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe passed “An Act to prevent further introduction of Slaves, and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this Province.” The legislation did not immediately end slavery, but it did prevent the importation of slaves, meaning that any U.S. slave who set foot in what would eventually become Ontario, was free.

When he arrived in Upper Canada with his family, he founded a settlement and laborer’s school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, Upper Canada. By the time Henson arrived, others had already made Upper Canada home, including Black Loyalists from the American Revolution, and refugees from the War of 1812.

He first worked on farms near Fort Erie, then Waterloo, moving with friends to Colchester by 1834 to set up a Black settlement on rented land. Through contacts and financial help there, he was able to buy 200 acres (0.81 km2) in Dawn Township, in next-door Kent County, to realize his vision of a self-sufficient community. The Dawn Settlement eventually prospered, reaching a population of 500 at its height, and exporting black walnut lumber to the United States and Britain. Henson purchased an additional 200 acres (0.81 km2) next to the Settlement, where his family lived. Henson also became an active Methodist preacher, and spoke as an abolitionist on routes between Tennessee and Ontario. He also served in the Canadian army as a military officer, having led a Black militia unit in the Rebellion of 1837.

He traveled to England three times to raise money for the settlement, and he met Queen Victoria in 1877. After his first wife’s death, Henson married Nancy Gamble, a widowed free black woman, in 1856.

Though many residents of the Dawn Settlement returned to the United States after slavery was abolished there, Henson and his wife continued to live in Dawn for the rest of their lives.

Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe may have passed the Act that ensured freedom for so many, but Josiah Henson certainly helped many blacks achieve success after slavery. To read more about Henson, I suggest the following sites: Documenting the American South, and Dictionary of Canadian Biography. There’s a 5-page biography at Digital History (I suggest looking around this site as it has so much information!) Two legacies are  National Historic Person plaque, and cemetery photo near Dresden, Ontario and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, also near Dresden, Ontario.  You may also like to read Henson’s autobiography  The Life of Josiah Henson: Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada and the free Kindle version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


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We Were Five


Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets

Mitchell Hepburn (11th Premier of Ontario, Canada) with Dionne Quintuplets. This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-019533 and under the MIKAN ID number 3191913

Elzire Dionne suspected she was carrying twins, but no one was aware that quintuplets were even possible.   In her third month,  she reported having had cramps and passing a strange object which, in hindsight, may have been the sixth fetus. The Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934.   The five girls, in order of birth: Yvonne Édouilda Marie, Annette Lillianne Marie, Cécile Marie Émilda, Émilie Marie Jeanne, and Marie Reine Alma.

They are the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy. The sisters were born in Canada south of North Bay, Ontario, just outside Callander, Ontario, near the village of Corbeil. Émilie and Marie shared an embryonic sac, Annette and Yvonne shared another one, and it is believed that Cécile shared an embryonic sac with the miscarried sixth fetus. Each girl became emotionally close to whomever she shared a sac with, and Cécile tended to be alone the most.   The girls were born two months premature.

After four months with their family, they were made Wards of the King for the next nine years under the Dionne Quintuplets’ Guardianship Act of 1935. The government and those around them began to profit by making them a significant tourist attraction in Ontario. Four months later, the Ontario government,  Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, on the advice of Premier Mitchell Hepburn, intervened and found the parents to be unfit for the quintuplets (although not for their earlier children), in 1935.  The government realized that there was massive public interest in the sisters and proceeded to engender a tourist industry around them. Across the road from their birthplace, the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery was built for the five girls and their new caregivers.   It was surrounded by a covered arcade that allowed tourists to observe the sisters behind one-way screens.

Dionne Sisters in June 1947

The Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs Olive Dionne and Frère Gustave Sauvé, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne Park, during the five days Marian Congress which prayed for peace and celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese (June 1947). This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number PA-155518 and under the MIKAN ID number 3192103

It is estimated that 6,000 people visited the observation gallery every day. 3,000,000 people walked through the gallery between 1936 and 1943.   In 1934, the Quintuplets brought in about $1 million, and they attracted in total about $51 million of tourist revenue to Ontario.

Quintland, as it came to be called, became Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction of the era; then surpassing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls!

In November 1943, the Dionne parents won back custody of the sisters. The entire family moved into a newly built house, with many amenities of the time, including telephones, electricity and hot water.

According to the accounts of the surviving sisters, the parents often treated them at home as a five-part unit and often lectured them about the trouble they had caused the family by existing.  They were unaware for many years that the lavish house, the expensive food and the series of cars the family enjoyed were paid for with money they themselves had earned.

The quintuplets left the family home upon turning 18 years old in 1952 and had little contact with their parents afterwards.  Annette and Cécile both eventually divorced; by the 1990s, the three surviving sisters (Annette, Cécile and Yvonne) lived together in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville.

In 1998, the sisters reached a monetary settlement with the Ontario government as compensation for their exploitation. Yvonne Dionne died in 2001, and as of May 2013, there are two surviving sisters, Annette and Cécile.

The sisters wrote a book, We Were Five: The Dionne Quintuplets’ Story from Birth through Girlhood to Womanhood that’s worth a read. A blog at Gosselins Without Pity posted a letter the sisters wrote to a couple who just had septuplets, I also find the comments on this page quite interesting.



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Canadian Delegates were “miffed”

Canada on Globe


On March 8, 1867, the British North America Act was passed by the House of Commons in Britain, less than a month after it had been introduced in the House of Lords.  It was a speedy job of legislation, so much so, that the Canadian delegates were a little “miffed” because it had not caused more debate.  John A. Macdonald’s grumbled: “The English behave as though the British North America Act was a private bill uniting two or three parishes.”

Some British M.P.’s were suspicious that the bill was being rushed through, but the only man who offered any opposition was John Bright, free-trader and reformer.  In this case, he was on the side of the underdog, Joseph Howe, who had been in London since July trying to keep Nova Scotia out of Confederation.

Howe even went to Lord Carnarvon and claimed that fifty-two of the seventy-two resolutions leading to the British North American Act had been drawn up by Macdonald who had probably been drunk at the time. Carnarvon, greatly upset, wrote to Governor-General Lord Monck in Canada asking him to investigate.  Evidently he was reassured because the bill went through without delay.

John Bright tried to have the bill set aside by criticizing the colonial system generally.  He said that if the provinces of British North America were going to keep asking Britain for money for defence and railways, then it would be better if they were given their independence and paid their own way.

M.P.’s were so little concerned that many of them were not in their seats when the British North America Act got its last reading on March 8.  They came rushing in immediately after, because the next item of business was a bill to place a tax on dogs, and most of them owned dogs!

The British North America Act was officially proclaimed on March 29, and Queen Victoria set July 1 as the date for Confederation.

To learn more about today’s post, I would suggest visiting the Canadian History webpage. Another very good resource to look at is the Confederation Timeline at Canada Channel. If you’ve never been, another great place to visit is the Encyclopedia Britannica.   All very good places to start.



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Black History Month Part Four

Continuing with our series of Black History Month, allow me to introduce you to Viola Davis Desmond, a woman who suffered over something so simple and by doing so, helped in the fight for human rights in Canada.

Image of stamp celebrating Viola Davis Desmond's human right's efforts

Viola Davis Desmond

Ms. Desmond was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1914. A businesswoman, she ran her own beauty parlor and beauty college. On November 8, 1946, while waiting for her car to be fixed at a garage across the street, she decided to go see a movie in the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow. She refused to sit in the balcony, which was designated exclusively for Blacks. Instead, she sat on the ground floor, which was for Whites only. She was forcibly removed and arrested. Viola was found guilty of not paying the one-cent difference in tax on the balcony ticket. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and paid a $26 fine, that’s approximately $251.30 in 2010!

The trial that followed, mainly focused on the issue of tax evasion. Dissatisfied with the verdict, the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, with Viola’s help, took the case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The conviction was upheld.

Desmond acted nine years before the famed incident by civil-rights activist Rosa Parks, with whom Desmond is often compared.

After the trial, Desmond closed her business and then moved to Montreal where she could enroll in a business college. She eventually settled in New York where she died on February 7, 1965 at the age of 50.

On April 15, 2010, the province of Nova Scotia granted an official apology and a free pardon to Viola. Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis, the first black person to serve as the Queen’s representative in the province of Nova Scotia, presided. Viola’s 83-year-old sister, Wanda Robson, was there to accept the apology. Premier Darrell Dexter also apologized to Viola’s family and all black Nova Scotians for the racism she was subjected to in an incident he called unjust.

In 2000, Desmond and other Canadian civil rights activists were the subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary Journey to Justice.

To get more information about Ms. Desmond I suggest visiting Historica Canada, and Black Past.


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Just Watch Me!

English: Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundrais...

English: Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundraising meeting for the Liberal Party at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal, Québec. Cropped version of File:Pierre_Elliot_Trudeau.jpg Français : Pierre Elliott Trudeau lors d’une campagne de fonds pour le parti Libéral du Canada à l’hôtel Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth à Montréal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

The FLQ, basically, were a group intent on separating the Province of Quebec from Canada. The had planted nearly one hundred bombs in the Montreal area, some of which caused death and injury.

Eventually, a deal was made, and the kidnappers were allowed to go to Cuba. Those responsible for the murder of Laporte were caught and sent to trial.

For more on the FLQ, Wikipedia

Also I suggest going to the CBC site for even more.


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“The Canadians Went For That Last Twenty-five Cents.”

English: This is a public photo. Category:Colu...

English: This is a public photo. Category:Columbia River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A secret meeting between President Kennedy of the U.S.A. and Premier W. A. C. Bennett of British Columbia in Seattle in November 1961 paved the way for the Columbia River Treaty, which initiated large-scale development of water and electric power in Canada.  Some of this power will be made available to the U.S.A., since the need for more natural resources becomes greater in the U.S.A. every years.  The abundance of many resources in Canada provides Ottawa with another important bargaining lever.

The development of the Columbia River was discussed by leading Canadians and Americans for many years and five U.S. presidents participated in the talks.  Agreement was near in 1961, but British Columbia would not accept the terms proposed by the Conservative government in Ottawa, led by John Diefenbaker, B.C. Premier Bennett felt that he had a better plan and held out until 1963, when Liberals led by L. B. Pearson took over the federal government and accepted his terms.  Premier Bennett said at the time that:

“Not only will this revenue build the High Arrow Dam, Duncan Lake Dam, and the dam at Mica Creek, but it will also provide two million horse-power of electricity to British Columbia without cost to British Columbians.”

The Columbia River Treaty was signed by President Johnson of the United States, Prime Minister Pearson of Canada and Premier Bennett of British Columbia at the Peace Arch on the British Columbia-Washington boundary on September 16, 1964.  President Johnson handed Premier Bennett a cheque for $273,291,661.25 and quipped to the crowd, “The Canadians went for that last twenty-five cents.”  It was the largest cheque ever received by a premier of a Canadian province and Bennett insisted that it be delivered before 2 p.m. so it could be deposited in a bank in time to earn interest that very day.

A few weeks later British Columbia lent Quebec $100,000,000.  Premier Bennett had turned the tables on his political opponents because his “funny money” Social Credit government had come to the financial rescue of the orthodox Liberal government of Canada’s oldest province.

The Columbia River is the fourth largest river in North America.  It is eventually expected to provide forty million kilowatts of installed capacity.  The Duncan Dam was completed in 1967 and the Arrow Dam, renamed the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, began operation in 1968.

To read more about this treaty, I suggest going to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and the Centre for Columbia River History, as well as the Government of British Columbia Blog – all good places to start.


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