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30 Political Leaders

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that have helped define our identity, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

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Wade MacLauchlan

H. Wade MacLauchlan, CM, OPEI, MLA, 32nd premier of Prince Edward Island (2015–19), president of University of Prince Edward Island (1999–2011), lawyer, academic (born 10 December 1954 in Stanhope, PEI). MacLauchlan was sworn in as premier of Prince Edward Island on 23 February 2015, becoming the province’s first openly gay premier. The former law professor and university president received the Order of Canada in 2008 and the Order of Prince Edward Island in 2014. He is the author of Alex B. Campbell: The Prince Edward Island Premier Who Rocked the Cradle (2014).

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Rachel Notley

Rachel Notley, 17th premier of Alberta (2015–19) and leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party (2014–), lawyer (born 17 April 1964 in Edmonton, AB). As a lawyer, Rachel Notley specialized in labour issues, working in both British Columbia and Alberta. The daughter of Grant Notley, Alberta NDP leader from 1968 to 1984, she won her first election in 2008 and was elected party leader in 2014. Notley led her party to a surprise electoral victory on 5 May 2015, defeating the longest-serving government in Canadian history — the Progressive Conservatives, who had been in power since 1971. However, in the 2019 Alberta general election, Notley and the NDP lost to Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party.

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Stephen Harper

Stephen Joseph Harper, CCPCprime minister of Canada 2006–15, politician, author, economist (born 30 April 1959 in Toronto, ON). Stephen Harper is Canada’s longest-serving Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. He helped found the Reform Party and served as head of the National Citizens Coalition and leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. He then transformed the country’s political landscape by uniting the previously divided right into the Conservative Party of Canada. He led the CPC to three consecutive election wins before being defeated in 2015 and resigning as party leader. Harper’s adherence to a brand of ideologically-pure conservatism resulted in what the Globe and Mail called “Canada’s first ever truly Conservative government.” He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in December 2019.

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Claudette Bradshaw

Claudette Bradshaw, community activist, politician (born 8 April 1949 in Moncton, NB). Claudette Bradshaw’s early career was spent in nonprofit social work. She founded Moncton Headstart, an early family intervention centre, and advocated for at-risk youth. She was Member of Parliament for Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe from 1997 to 2006 and served in several ministerial roles in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, including Minister of Labour and Minister of State (Human Resources Development). Since then, she has become a major advocate for mental health, literacy and affordable housing.

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Dwight Ball

Dwight Ball, pharmacist, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 2015 to present, leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador (born 21 December 1957 in Deer Lake, NL). Ball became premier at a time of economic crisis. After several years of prosperity, slumping oil revenues required his government to bring in unpopular austerity measures to fight a burgeoning provincial debt. Ball retained the premiership in 2019, when his Liberal Party won a minority government. On 17 February 2020, Dwight Ball announced his resignation as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Native People's Caravan

The Native People’s Caravan was a cross-country mobile protest that took place in 1974. Its main purpose was to raise awareness about the poor living conditions and discrimination experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. It travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa, where the subsequent occupation of a vacant warehouse on Victoria Island, near Parliament Hill, extended into 1975. The caravan brought various Indigenous groups together in protest of broken treaties, as well as a lack of government-supported education, housing and health care. As a result, meetings between Cabinet ministers and Indigenous leaders became more frequent. The protest is remembered as an important turning point in Indigenous activism in Canada.

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Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney, politician, leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, premier of Alberta (born 30 May 1968 in Oakville, ON). Jason Kenney is the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta and the Leader of the Opposition in that province. From 1997 to 2016, he was Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast. He held several Cabinet positions in the Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, minister of employment and social development and minister of national defence. Kenney resigned his seat in Parliament in 2016, following the defeat of the Conservative government in the previous year’s election. In 2017, he was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, which then merged with the Wildrose Party. After the merger, Kenney was elected leader of the United Conservative Party. On 16 April 2019, Kenney and the UCP won a majority government in the Alberta general election.

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Brian Pallister

Brian William Pallister, premier of Manitoba 2016 to present, teacher, financial consultant, politician (born 6 July 1954 in Portage la Prairie, MB). A long-time figure in Canadian Conservative politics, Pallister became Manitoba's 22nd premier in May 2016.

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Bernard Landry

Bernard Landry, GOQ, lawyer, politician, premier of Québec 2001–03 (born 9 March 1937 in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, Quebec; died 6 November 2018 in Montreal, Quebec). A Cabinet minister in the governments of René Lévesque, Pierre-Marc Johnson, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, Bernard Landry was influential in shaping Québec’s economic, trade and financial sectors. The 28th premier of Québec (from 2001 to 2003), Landry signed the Agreement Respecting a New Relationship Between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec, supported the Kyoto Protocol and made Québec’s economy a top priority. Following a vote of confidence, he stepped down as leader of the Parti Québécois in June 2005 and returned to university-level teaching.

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Brian Bowman

Brian Bowman, lawyer, mayor of Winnipeg 2014–present (born 18 August, 1971 in Winnipeg, MB). A lawyer specializing in privacy rights and social media, Bowman was elected Winnipeg’s first Métis mayor on 22 October 2014.

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Abraham Okpik

​Abraham “Abe” Okpik, OC, Inuit community leader (born 12 January 1929 in the Mackenzie Delta area, Northwest Territories; died 10 July 1997 in Iqaluit, Nunavut).