“Sir John A. Macdonald is not just some guy who appears on the $10 bill, nor is Lester B. Pearson a name randomly bestowed upon the Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa.
The two former prime ministers were recognized for their tremendous contributions to our nation at the 4th annual soirée hosted by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a national public-policy think tank based in Ottawa.
Senior Conservative cabinet minister James Moore and Liberal MPIrwin Cotler, a former justice minister, were invited to speak about their favourite PM at Wednesday’s party at the exclusive Rideau Club.
Moore chose Macdonald, and was so persuasive in his arguments that Cotler called his presentation “outstanding.” Moore described our “first and best” PM as a “great visionary” for his construction of a national railway. As well, Macdonald “understood that great ideas are of no worth unless you put in hard work and are practical and tough and sometimes cunning.”
Heart strings were yanked as Moore described the Father of Confederation as a rock of personal strength. Macdonald’s brother was murdered in childhood. He lost a baby son to sudden infant death syndrome. His first wife was an opium addict. He had a disabled daughter for whom he cared and loved deeply. One of his political allies, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, was assassinated.
When talk turned to Pearson, the room heard that our 14th PM had been a First World War vet and a skilful diplomat who was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for solving the Suez crisis. Cotler credited Pearson for strengthening national identity, improving social policies, implementing co-operative federalism and “bringing people together for the common good.”
“He was, after all, never at the helm of a majority government,” Cotler noted.
After the speeches, a four-tiered Canada-themed cake was ceremonially cut by honourary chair and retired politician Peter Milliken and institute managing director Brian Lee Crowley.”