Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson (second right) and cabinet ministers Pierre Trudeau (left to right) John Turner and Jean Chretien talk in Ottawa on April 4, 1967. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell

Who was the best prime minister of the 20th century?

Poll suggests a regional divide in Canada

There appears to be a regional divide in how fondly Canadians view prime ministers past, according to a poll that might shed light on today’s politics.

The survey from the non-profit Association for Canadian Studies found respondents were divided in their choices for the best prime minister of the 20th century, with Pierre Trudeau receiving the largest share of votes at 15 per cent.

He and Brian Mulroney were the most popular picks in Quebec — but francophone Quebecers favoured Mulroney while anglophones in the province favoured Trudeau.

And in the West, respondents chose Lester B. Pearson more often from the list of eight prime ministers who served long stints in office between 1900 and 2000.

The Leger online poll conducted the week of Nov. 11 surveyed 2,295 Canadians but cannot be assigned a margin of error because polls from Internet panels are not random samples.

Association president Jack Jedwab notes Pierre Trudeau was chosen by respondents in parts of the country key to current prime minister Justin Trudeau’s electoral successes.

“Justin Trudeau, who in many ways articulates the key pillars of his father’s vision … is today popular with the same constituents as his father is in the survey,” Jedwab says.

He adds that younger Canadians, Ontarians and anglophone Quebecers have positive evaluations of Pierre Trudeau’s legacy, “and may also determine how Justin fares in the future.”

Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal, was prime minister from 1968 to 1984, minus nine months in opposition in 1979. Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative, was in office from 1984 to 1993. Pearson, a Liberal, was prime minister from 1963 to 1968.

Other prime ministers on the list of options included Robert Borden (prime minister from 1911 to 1920, as a Conservative and then at the head of a coalition during the First World War), William Lyon Mackenzie King (a Liberal with three stints between 1921 and 1948, totalling more than 21 years), Wilfrid Laurier (Liberal prime minister from 1896 to 1911), Jean Chretien (Liberal prime minister from 1993 to 2003), and Louis Saint-Laurent (Liberal prime minister from 1948 to 1957).

Respondents in the survey who were older than 55 selected Pierre Trudeau, Pearson and Laurier above others on the list of prime ministers presented.

READ MORE: Chretien says Trudeau has handled blackface issue properly

Jedwab notes most respondents under age 35, the oldest of whom were teenagers at the end of the 20th century, either didn’t recognize the names on the list or felt uncomfortable ranking them.

The findings show the effect the years are having on how we remember prime ministerial performance, he says. People over age 55 likely remember Pierre Trudeau’s time in office, while those who are just hitting that age got the right to vote around the time the elder Trudeau left office for good in 1984, Jedwab says.

“Increasingly, what we hear or read about Trudeau and the other prime ministers can make the difference in our evaluations and who happens to currently be in power will have a bearing on that.”

John Diefenbaker, Kim Campbell, Arthur Meighen, R.B. Bennett, John Turner, and Joe Clark were not included in questions, though both Bennett and Diefenbaker served longer as prime minister than Pearson did.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on June 19, 1972. Beside him is cabinet minister Jean Chretien. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg

Just Posted

Four rock supergroups to play Abbotsford Centre this summer

Big Wreck, Headstones, Moist and The Tea Party perform on June 27

VIDEO: California’s Rolling Hills Huskies win Abbotsford’s Snowball Classic

Huskies capture first-ever Snowball crown with 75-69 win over Burnaby South Rebels

Fire breaks out at Mission wharf

Crews extinguished blaze that broke out along Fraser River on Monday

PHOTOS: Spectacular ice formations on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford

Ice falls photographed during Fraser Valley deep freeze

VIDEO: Abbotsford fire crews battle house fire

Home on Osprey Drive’s roof catches ablaze on Saturday night

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

Young child seriously injured in suspected drunk driving crash in Delta

“This needs to stop,” says Insp. Ciaran Feenan, head of the Delta Police Department’s patrol section

Elderly man in serious condition after being hit by bus in Burnaby

RCMP believe man, 82, was not at a crosswalk at the time

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Most Read