He was an unknown small-town doctor without a stellar academic record or any impressive qualifications let alone any serious research experience. He had never treated a patient with diabetes or shown any interest in the disease. Banting did not let these details derail him.
In February 1980, Trudeau, defying the odds of history, won the election. When he stepped down for good in 1984, he would have seen that in his second retirement, he had recast both his country and his political obituaries.
As the Seven Years’ War staggered to an uncertain close, pamphleteers in Britain began arguing about which French possession best suited Britain’s political and mercantile interests: the vast sprawling slab of northern North America, brimming with potential, or the tiny, lush, and outrageously profitable island of Guadeloupe.
Our first truly internationalist prime minister started his journey in a tiny village in Quebec. Imbued with the social graces of small-town life, he proved to have just the right touch with voters.
“In Flanders Fields” has stayed viral, woven into our national collective consciousness, so pervasive, so familiar. McCrae had a journalist’s eye for telling detail. His poem even still to this day echoes around the world.
It is a continental relationship so vast and intricate that the big economic and cultural wheels just keep on churning no matter who is in power; sometimes with more noise and friction, sometimes like silk, but the churning does not stop.
As prime minister, he worked political magic to maintain the tenuous confederation of solitudes against improbable odds, anchored in his accommodations and tolerance with Quebec. In so doing, he laid the foundation for this, one of the world’s oldest and most inclusive democracies.
We live in dysfunctional times in a curious country where the current narrative demeans or denies the incredible things we have done together.
On December 17, 1917, with the Great War raging across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, close to two million Canadians went to the polls to vote on conscription.
This week’s notable anniversary in Canadian history is December 11, 1931, the date in which the Statute of Westminster received royal assent in London. The statute gave Canada independence from Britain to govern its own internal and external affairs.