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Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, PC, prime minister of Canada 1896–1911, politician, lawyer, journalist (born 20 November 1841 in St-Lin, Canada East; died 17 February 1919 in Ottawa, ON). Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the dominant political figure of his era. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1887 to 1919 and Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911. A skilful and pragmatic politician with a charismatic personality, he unceasingly sought compromise. Above all, he was a fervent promoter of national unity at a time of radical change and worsening cultural conflict. Laurier also promoted the development and expansion of the country. He encouraged immigration to Western Canada; supported the construction of transcontinental railways; and oversaw the addition of Alberta and Saskatchewan to Confederation.

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Governor General of Canada

Canada is a constitutional monarchy. As such, there is a clear division between the head of state and the head of government. The head of government is the prime minister, an elected political leader. The head of state is the Canadian monarch. Their duties are carried out by the governor general, who acts as the representative of the Crown — currently Elizabeth II — in Canada. (Lieutenant-Governors fulfill the same role in provincial governments.) The governor general performs a wide array of ceremonial duties. They also fulfill an important role in upholding the traditions of Parliament and other democratic institutions. Inuk leader Mary Simon was formally installed as Canada’s 30th Governor General on 26 July 2021. She is the first Indigenous person to hold Canada’s viceregal position.

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Princess Alice Countess of Athlone

Her Royal Highness Princess Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline of Albany, Countess of Athlone, viceregal consort of Canada from 1940 to 1946 (born 25 February 1883 in Berkshire, United Kingdom; died 3 January 1981 in London, United Kingdom). Princess Alice promoted Canadian culture and women’s contributions to the Second World War. She was the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria and the last member of the royal family to serve as viceregal consort of Canada.

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Adrienne Clarkson

Adrienne Louise Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD, 26th governor general of Canada 1999–2005, television personality, journalist, novelist, public servant, publisher (born 10 February 1939 in Hong Kong). In 1999, Clarkson was appointed as Canada’s 26th governor general by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. She was the first racialized person, the first person of Asian heritage and the first without a political or military background appointed to the vice-regal position. Her appointment came after an award-winning career in broadcast and print journalism, where she was best known as host and reporter of CBC’s the fifth estate. After her tenure as governor general, Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul, launched the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, an organization that aims to accelerate the cultural integration of new citizens into Canadian society. She is the author of two novels and five works of nonfiction.

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Iona Campagnolo

Iona Campagnolo has also had a career as a broadcaster and activist. Beyond Canada, she frequently contributed to current affairs programs on PBS-TV and monitored elections and did human rights work in Africa, Asia and South America.

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Jim Prentice

​Jim Prentice, 16th Premier of Alberta and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta (2014–15), Federal Cabinet minister (2006–10), lawyer (born 20 July 1956 in South Porcupine, ON; died 13 October 2016 near ​Kelowna, ​BC).

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James McGill

James McGill, fur trader, merchant, politician, philanthropist (born 6 October 1744 in Glasgow, Scotland; died 19 December 1813 in Montreal, Lower Canada). James McGill was one of Montreal’s most prominent citizens in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He grew a successful career as a fur trader into a business empire. McGill also held various positions in public office, including three terms in Lower Canada’s legislature. His will contained the endowment for McGill University. James McGill’s achievements cannot be separated from the fact that he enslaved Black and Indigenous people and profited from this practice.

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Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone

Sir Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, Major General The Earl of Athlone, Governor General of Canada from 1940 to 1946 (born 14 April 1874 in London, United Kingdom; died 16 January 1957 in London, United Kingdom). Athlone served as Governor General during the Second World War and hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.

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John Neilson

John Neilson, newspaperman, publisher, editor, politician (born 17 July 1776 in Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland; died 1 February 1848 in Québec City, Canada East). A staunch moderate, John Neilson supported a greater balance of power in the colony. Sympathetic to French-Canadians, he was a deputy with the Parti canadien in the Legislative Assembly – which later became the Parti patriote – and broke away when the party radicalized in the 1830s. Though he opposed the party’s republican and nationalist policies, Neilson continued to fight for French-Canadians, heavily condemning the Union of the Canadas in 1841.

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Carla Qualtrough

Carla Qualtrough, politician, athlete, lawyer (born 15 October 1971 in Calgary, AB). Carla Qualtrough is the Liberal member of Parliament for Delta, a suburban constituency south of Vancouver. She has served as Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and is currently Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility. Prior to entering politics, she worked in human rights law and in sports administration. Qualtrough, who is legally blind, was the first Paralympian elected to the House of Commons. She won three bronze medals in swimming at the Paralympic Games and four medals at the world championships.

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Sam Steele

Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, CB, KCMG, mounted policeman, soldier (born 5 January 1848 in Medonte, Canada West; died 30 January 1919 in London, England). As a member of the North-West Mounted Police, Steele was an important participant in the signing of Treaty 6 and Treaty 7, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the North-West Rebellion and the Klondike gold rush. His military career began as a private in the Red River Expedition, included service in the South African War as an officer commanding Lord Strathcona’s Horse and as a major general during the First World War.

Macleans

John Sopinka (Obituary)

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on December 8, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

During the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, two Canadians who had become lost on the city’s streets set off in search of a ride. Rounding a corner, they spotted a parked and empty bus, the keys in the ignition.

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Clark to Become Tory Leader

There is not much Canadians don’t know about Joe Clark by now. He is an eternal optimist to some, a punching bag for others, and that combination has set him up for some of the more humiliating political defeats of his generation.

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Jagmeet Singh

Jagmeet Singh “Jimmy” Dhaliwal, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada 2017–present, MP, MPP, lawyer (born 2 January 1979 in Scarborough, ON). Jagmeet Singh served as an Ontario MPP from 2011 until 2017, when he won the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP). This made him the first racialized leader of a major national political party in Canada. He was also the first turban-wearing Sikh elected to the Ontario legislature. Singh has consistently rated higher than other federal party leaders in public opinion polls but has yet to translate that into national electoral success. He has been the Member of Parliament for Burnaby South since 2019.