06.30.2010 02:23 PM

Best Prime Ministers: Trudeau and Chrétien!

Thank you, Angus Reid, for a great start to Canada Day!

Canadians Think Trudeau is Best Recent PM, as Views on Mulroney Worsen
Jean Chrétien ranks second after Trudeau and has gained five points on the “Best PM” question since October 2007.

[MONTREAL – Jun. 30, 2010] – Pierre Trudeau is still seen as the best Canadian head of government since 1968, while one-in-four respondents think Brian Mulroney has been the worst prime minister of the past four decades, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,009 Canadian adults, 38 per cent of respondents think Trudeau has been the best prime minister since 1968, followed by Jean Chrétien with 13 per cent, Stephen Harper with 11 per cent, and Mulroney with seven per cent.


  1. MCBellecourt says:

    Brian Mulroney might hold the dubious title of “worst prime minister in four decades”, but I think Stephen Harper will usurp that title in due time. Remember the anniversary bash held for Mulroney awhile back (believe it was to commemmorate the stunning majority he got?)?

    Mulroney wished President Barack Obama well on his health care initiatives, and while I could kick him for NAFTA, the one thing he did NOT include in the deal were our health care and water rights.

    CETA, on the other hand, allows Europe access to both of those fundamental assets, and if we allow Europeans access to those assets, we have to allow the US access, too. This fits in with Harper’s ideology, and he’s the guy who will be dealing with the CETA.

    This, on top of the G20 billion dollar boondoggle and the questions that are beginning to snowball regarding the violation of human rights during arrests and detentions. Case in point? I stumbled upon this on my cybertravels last night.


    It contains some rather interesting details and observations. If proven true, these images could be potentially explosive, figuratively speaking.

    I won’t bother going into everything else the Harper Conservatives have foisted on us Canucks in the last four years, but people will be cussing him out for the bigger chunk taken off their paycheques via payroll taxes and the resulting lost jobs that such taxes could cause.

    For years, I thought Mulroney was the worst, but no longer.

    • allegra fortissima says:

      Regarding your opinion on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – I just discovered this quote by Anonymous (not necessarily my opinion, but there’s some truth to it):

      “What is a Canadian? A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweed, a Hong Kong shirt and Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Phillippine sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car from an Italian movie… and then writes his Member of Parliament with a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs.”

  2. Blair Shumlich says:

    Harper beats Mulroney? Ouch.

  3. Marc L says:

    Well, I respectfully disagree.

    Trudeau did great things on the social front like implementing bilingualism, and establishing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But his economic policies were pure and unmitigated disasters for the Canadian economy — FIRA, out-of-control spending and the building up of massive deficits, wage and price controls, the national energy policy etc. In other words, a heavily interventionist and protectionist approach to economic policy. Cuddling up to Fidel Castro was not exactly a high point either. So some strong points, but some very big weak ones as well –

    Mulroney’s legacy is unfortunately tainted by his bizarre dealings with Schereiber etc. However, he did great things for Canada’s economy. He got rid of the investment (and therefore job)-crippling FIRA, negoitiated free trade agreements with the U.S. and Mexico, replaced the unfair MST with a broader GST, and made important strides towards cleaning up public finances, at least in his first mandate, when he managed to transform the largest deficit in Canadian history (yes, the last Liberal budget before Mulroney took over generated the largest deficit as a share of GDP ever) into a primary surplus. While things soured on that front with the early 1990s recession, it is important to remember that he was really pushing against very strong headwinds — he was up against a strong Liberal opposition in his second mandate, and one that was outright AGAINST eliminating the deficit. In fact, the Liberals opposed EVERY SINGLE measure that Mulroney tried to implement to reduce the deficit. My only criticism of him is that he backed down at times(for example on pension reform) and did not push harder to get rid of the deficit monster despite the Liberal opposition to that policy.

    As an economist, I would readily choose Mulroney over Trudeau. Anytime.

    • Blair Shumlich says:

      It is important to remember that Trudeau wasn’t alone in his economic follies; Keynes was influential everywhere. It’s hard to judge him based on the economic knowledge of today.

      • Marc L says:

        I agree with you on that. He was certainly not alone. That said, those policies did not have much to do with Keynes, but with the distortion of Keynes’ ideas that prevailed at the time. Keynes did not advocate deficit spending during an economic expansion. Nonetheless, I have trouble seeing that as a positive legacy. And, the legacy of the NEP endures to this day.

        • Riley says:

          Except the economic legacy of mulroney’s policies led to the current state of affairs — the greatest disparity in income in 80 years, worsening child poverty rates, greater job insecurity higher levels of stress and disenfranchisement. But as an “economist” you don’t deal in unpleasant realities. As for the NEP, it had little to do with economic diffculties in western canada — $12 a barrel oil thanks to North Sea and Alaskan north slope oil had a lot do do with that, as well as a recession in the early 80s. Fact is, more people lived better as a percentage of the population during the Trudeau era than any time since. Or do you actually believe that high taxes have any statistically significant impact on real GDP growth? If you do I’d like to see the studies that contradict the OECD data that demolishes that myth.

          • Marc L. says:

            “Except the economic legacy of mulroney’s policies led to the current state of affairs — the greatest disparity in income in 80 years, worsening child poverty rates, greater job insecurity higher levels of stress and disenfranchisement.”

            What policies exactly? talking about proving things, I’d like to see you prove that.

            Has it ever dawned on you that people lived better during the Trudeau era because tax rates were much lower than they are now, and governments were spending like mad? Perhaps, just perhaps that may have something to do with it. Payback time was during the 80s and especially during the 90s. Sorry guy, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

            As for calling me an economist in quotation marks who does not deal in unpleasant realities — what do you know? You don’t know me so stick to the point. Insults will get you nowhere.

    • Paul R. Martin says:

      I agree with Marc L. as Trudeau was very weak on Economics. Mulroney, despite his obvious flaws, was an effective PM as is Harper.

      By the way Warren, I visited Parliament Hill yesterday and saw Chretien’s portrait. It was next to Joe Who and Brian M. and was vastly superior to those 2 portraits. The yellow background was extremely effective and made the portrait stand out. The hanging of Chretien is an obvious success. I found it funny that the statue of Dief has its back turned to Pearson’s statue.

    • I thought it was Maggie that did most of the cuddling.Ole Pete was known for giving the west the finger,rather tan a hug.
      Ole Pete divided the country forever with his “bilingualism.It’s cost was(and is)onerous and did nothing to draw us together as a country.In fact,it had the opposite effect.
      We are a “three part” country(East,West and Quebec……four if aboriginals are included.
      we continue to exist in spite of our disfunctionality(new word??)Maybe that is an indication of just how strong and cohesive we really are.
      p.s. why are the liberals so under represented federally west of Ontario????

    • Michael Bussiere says:

      This poll was not about economics, but legacy. How was Abraham Lincoln as an economic manager? Nation building is the measurement of greatness. Trudeau’s legacy lives on in every neighbourhood in the country where ethnicity and language co-mingle in great harmony when compared to the rest of the world. It lives on in bilingual children of bilingual parents. It lives on in bilingual PMs who embrace, however clumsily or half-heartedly, the Charter. In other words, Mulroney and Harper dwell in the shadow of Trudeau’s vision.

      Trudeau could be from no other country in the world, and that proved to all of us that we were unique. He personified that turning point in our self-identity.

      As history moves on, the economics of the past fade and the living legacy is all that matters.

  4. Namesake says:

    there’s more: “When asked who has been the worst prime minister of Canada since 1968, 24 per cent of respondents select Mulroney, followed by Harper with 18 per cent…. Mulroney — who trailed Harper by three points when this question was last asked in May 2009 — is now ahead of the current prime minister [as the worst PM] by six points.”

    Ah, so that explains why Harper commissioned the otherwise useless $multi-million Oliphant Schreiber / Mulroney Commission: to handicap his main opposition in the “Worst PM Ever” polls & history books.

    The poll summary itself is at:

    w. more detailed results at: http://www.visioncritical.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010.06.30_PMs_EN.pdf

  5. allegra fortissima says:

    While in Europe a few weeks ago I discussed European and Canadian politics with a friend of mine. We talked about Willy Brandt, Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper and suddenly my vis-a`-vis says with an amused smile: “Oh well, didn’t you also have this womanizer PM?”

    I am at a loss of words for a second (doesn’t happen too often:)) Of course I cannot let that go and I tell him to forget about the Streisand Girl and I quote Monique Begin:

    ” ‘Boss,’ I said, ‘I just don’t know where it’s going anymore with medicare.’
    ‘Who are the players, and where do they stand on the Canadian Health Act?’ he asked.
    ‘The ten provinces are opposed, not just their ministers of health, but their ministers of finance, and their premiers! All of organized medicine is opposed. All the official elites are opposed.’
    ‘Where is the population in all of this?’
    ‘In favour of the bill.’
    ‘That’s a sure win,’ was his stern answer.
    He was right of course. He was always the strategist, mastering the political culture of our country. And he always had a strong sense of basic human values and the common good.”

    (Pierre Colleagues and Friends Talk about the Trudeau They Knew, Edited by Nancy Southam)

  6. Joseph says:

    I don’t believe this poll. Harper at 11%! That’s 3 million people. No freaking way.

  7. James Bow says:

    You know, those aren’t the only four choices. But, then, how gloomy does your outlook have to be if you think that a prime minister who reigned for less than nine months was the best prime minister in the past forty two years?

    No offence meant to the Right Honourables Joe Clark and Kim Campbell.

  8. PolyGon says:

    Very interesting to me that, not only is Trudeau tops, but he especially dominates the 55+ age bracket and the 35-54 age bracket. So, people who actually lived during Trudeau’s time are even more enthusiastic about his tenure than the young folks who reflect on it historically.

    It could either mean that the older Canadians get, the more they like multiculturalist social democracy (umm) – or it could mean that he did a better job at the time than young conservatives and skeptics give him credit for.

    Maybe kids today don’t learn enough about the Charter?

  9. Paul R. Martin says:

    The Charter was important, but lets give Diefenbaker some credit for the “Canadian Bill of Rights”.

  10. Rick T. says:

    You can’t be serious. What Liberal Riding was this poll taken in?

    • PolyGon says:

      Why are people at all surprised?

      If Trudeau’s rank seems high to you, consider that the odds were always going to be that a Liberal PM ranks top. It all harkens to rationale of an NDP/Liberal coaltion or merger: there are simply more progressives and liberals in Canada than there are conservatives.

      In judging modern PMs, NDP and Green voters are clearly going to prefer a Liberal PM to Mulroney or Harper. The only “small” party that tilts Conservative is the Bloc (haha), who preferred Mulroney.

      The details are worth looking at. Check it out below.


    • Joseph says:

      It’s called “most major metropolitan centres in Canada.”

    • Namesake says:

      It was a cross-Canadian internet poll, which, yes, excludes some of the hardest core Con supporters whose highest level of technical expertise is the remote control.

      Note, too, Trudeau was by far and away the most favoured as the best PM among the university educated (42%), whereas just 8% of that demographic selected Harper — which of course is why he (self-)hates “the elites.”

      Dunno if this will get totally lost in the formatting, but here were the actual (weighted) %’s they reported by demo, in the first set, and then I had a stab at factoring out all the ‘none of the above / don’t know’ to calculate the decided’s %’s in the second set, where Trudeau is picked best PM by 51% of the university educated & Harper by 10%. (And, alas, even among those with just High School or less — but who are still savvy enough to work that Interweb thingy — Trudeau was selected by 45%, last week, and Harper only drew 16% (as did Chretien, BTW), which shows even the Timmies / I’m Mike, from Canmore (AirFarce) crowd are more savvy than H gives them credit for and sense that he’s a poseur.

      Gender Age Education
      M F 18-34 35-54 55+ HS- Coll/Tech Univ+
      Pierre Trudeau 33% 43% 30% 39% 45% 33% 40% 42%
      Stephen Harper 14% 12% 20% 10% 11% 12% 12% 8%
      Jean Chr

      • Namesake says:

        curses! done in by the anglocentric accent-rejecting interweb filter; here’s those numbers again as explained above:

        Best PM in past 40 years, as selected by:

        Gender Age Education
        M F 18-34 35-54 55+ HS- Coll/Tech Univ+
        Pierre Trudeau 33% 43% 30% 39% 45% 33% 40% 42%
        Stephen Harper 14% 12% 20% 10% 11% 12% 12% 8%
        Jean Chretien 14% 8% 7% 11% 15% 12% 12% 15%
        Brian Mulroney 10% 5% 5% 11% 6% 7% 7% 9%
        Paul Martin 5% 2% 2% 4% 4% 3% 2% 6%
        Joe Clark 2% 3% 1% 3% 3% 3% 2% 1%
        John Turner 1% 2% 2% 1% 2% 1% 0% 0%
        Kim Campbell 1% 0% 1% 0% 0% 3% 1% 1%
        Not Sure 20% 26% 33% 21% 16% 26% 24% 17%

        Just the Sure?s 80% 75% 68% 79% 86% 74% 76% 82%
        (becomes divisor for above)

        M F 18-34 35-54 55+ HS- Col/Tek Univ+
        Pierre Trudeau 41% 57% 44% 49% 52% 45% 53% 51%
        Stephen Harper 18% 16% 29% 13% 13% 16% 16% 10%
        Jean Chretien 18% 11% 10% 14% 17% 16% 16% 18%
        Brian Mulroney 13% 7% 7% 14% 7% 9% 9% 11%
        Paul Martin 6% 3% 3% 5% 5% 4% 3% 7%
        Joe Clark 3% 4% 1% 4% 3% 4% 3% 1%
        John Turner 1% 3% 3% 1% 2% 1% 0% 0%
        Kim Campbell 1% 0% 1% 0% 0% 4% 1% 1%

        (sums: may not = 100 since the first figures were rounded:
        99% 100% 99% 100% 100% 96% 99% 99%

  11. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I don’t have a Best Recent PM. In my view, that title can only be bestowed on a future PM who can make this country whole again. Like it or not, that requires Quebec’s signature on the constitution. That’s why I’m in this game. Frankly, it’s the only reason I haven’t chucked the whole thing (my involvement in politics).

    One day Canadians will see the wisdom in ridding ourselves of such an historic national obscenity — which took place in 1982. A flagrant wrong can never be transformed into an acceptable right, no matter how many Canadians may wish it were so.

  12. DAVID says:


  13. dfhjfhlgjkgjkjkla says:

    interesting comments.

    trudeau’s energy policies worked. while the americans were dealing with a legitimate disaster, we had cheap gas. trudeau hated the controls system, but guess what? it worked. the NEP? self-sufficiency? is it time to admit that the NEP was actually decades ahead of it’s time?

    i wasn’t even born yet, but everything i’ve read about the era suggests that trudeau’s economic policies were, while sometimes unconventional and often loudly denounced in board rooms and the west, largely successful. ultimately, what is history going to judge him by? the popularity of his measures or the effectiveness of his policy?

    i agree with the results of the poll, except i’d swap harper and mulroney – as has been suggested by others.

    • Namesake says:

      Yeah, I think the NEP got a bum rap, too — thanks to the greed of the Sheikhs of Albertaby, who wanted to keep their license to gouge friends & foes alike — and wish we’d stuck it out for the long hail. It’s also too bad we divested ourselves of PetroCan. Given the shenenigans of co’s like Shell & BP, wouldn’t it be nice to have our own oil company we weren’t ashamed to shop at?

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