Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
Stephen Joseph Harper, PC, prime minister of Canada 2006–15, politician, author, economist (born 30 April 1959 in Toronto, ON). Stephen Harper is Canada’s longest-serving Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. After helping to found the Reform Party, and serving as head of the National Citizens Coalition and leader of the Canadian Alliance Party, he transformed the country’s political landscape by uniting the previously divided and moribund right into the Conservative Party of Canada. He led the CPC to three consecutive election wins before being defeated, and subsequently resigning as party leader, in 2015. Harper’s adherence to a brand of ideologically-pure conservatism resulted in what the Globe and Mail called “Canada’s first ever truly Conservative government.”2
Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, businessman, politician, prime minister 2003–06 (born 28 August 1938 in Windsor, ON). Paul Martin had a successful career in business as CEO and then owner of Canada Steamship Lines (renamed CSL Group), before entering politics. He was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament in 1988, and served as Minister of Finance (1993–2002) under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. In 2003, he succeeded Chrétien as Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, but resigned in 2006 after losing the federal election to Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. As prime minister, Martin spearheaded several initiatives, including the Kelowna Accord, a national child care program, health accords with the provinces and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Justin Pierre James Trudeau, PC, 23rd prime minister of Canada 2015–present, teacher, public issues advocate (born 25 December 1971 in Ottawa, ON). The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister, Justin has repeatedly defied expectations. In 2007, he won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau, beating the establishment’s candidate. A year later, he was elected to the House of Commons, confounding pundits who insisted the Trudeau name was political poison among francophone voters. After winning the Liberal Party leadership in 2013, Trudeau propelled the party from third place to first in the House, becoming prime minister at the head of a majority government.2
Charles Joseph “Joe” Clark, PC, CC, journalist, author, 16th prime minister of Canada 1979-80, (born 5 June, 1939 at High River, AB). Clark was Canada's youngest prime minister when he took office one day before his 40th birthday. His brief term put a temporary end to 16 years of Liberal rule. He later gained respect as a senior minister in the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, especially on the international stage.2
John Napier Turner, PC, CC; sprinter, politician, lawyer, prime minister (born in Richmond, England, 7 June 1929). Turner is best known for his early political service as federal justice minister and finance minister, and for the 1988 free trade election battle with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Turner's 11-week term as prime minister is the second shortest in Canadian history, after Sir Charles Tupper (10 weeks).1
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, prime minister of Canada 1896–1911, lawyer, journalist, politician (born 20 November 1841 in St-Lin, Canada East; died 17 February 1919 in Ottawa, ON ). As leader of the Liberal Party 1887–1919 and prime minister 1896–1911, Laurier was the dominant political figure of his era.1
“Let me tell you, my fellow countrymen, that all the signs point this way, that the 20th century shall be the century of Canada and Canadian development.… For the next 100 years, Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.” — Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier speaking at Toronto’s Massey Hall on 14 October 1904.