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

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

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

Work was underway on the interior of the new Tennis Centre location in Langley. Popularity of the sport has risen during the pandemic (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Tennis business expands into Langley

‘Busiest we’ve ever been’ says manager

.
LETTER: Langley student calls on public to take action to stop pollution

Grade 7 students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary were tasked with writing about climate change.

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley and other communities should be concerned about credit union’s direction

Member read the fine print and does not like the proposed changes

Langley MLAs Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman. (Black Press Media files)
Langley MLAs announce multiculturalism grants intended to help fight racism

Priority was given to projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. The Vancouver Canucks say 25 players and coaches have tested positive during a COVID-19 outbreak that involves a variant of the virus. It is now the biggest reported outbreak in the NHL this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks’ return to practice pushed back as player added to COVID protocol list

COVID outbreak has led to eight games being cancelled

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Most Read