Dion is from Quebec: so what?
A common criticism I have seen of Stéphane Dion in blog comments, for months now, is that he is from Quebec, that we shouldn't have yet another Quebec leader. I don't believe it is fair to judge a leader based on previous leaders, only on their own merits. But for the sake of argument, because I am tired of reading criticism of Dion purely because he is from Quebec, let's take a look at the history of Prime Ministers over the last 40 years and compare where they are from to their success as Prime Minister.
In chronological order of the Prime Ministers since Pearson came to office, as gleaned from wikipedia:
|Prime Minister||Party||Start date||End date||State||Riding||Province||Born|
|Lester B. Pearson||Liberal||1963-04-08||1965-11-08||Minority||Algoma East||Ontario||Ontario|
|Lester B. Pearson||Liberal||1965-11-08||1968-04-19||Minority||Algoma East||Ontario||Ontario|
|Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||1968-04-20||1968-06-25||Inherited||Mount Royal||Quebec||Quebec|
|Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||1968-06-25||1972-10-30||Majority||Mount Royal||Quebec||Quebec|
|Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||1972-10-30||1974-07-08||Minority||Mount Royal||Quebec||Quebec|
|Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||1974-07-08||1979-05-22||Majority||Mount Royal||Quebec||Quebec|
|Joe Clark||Progressive Conservative||1979-05-22||1980-02-18||Minority||Yellowhead||Alberta||Alberta|
|Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||1980-02-18||1984-06-29||Majority||Mount Royal||Quebec||Quebec|
|John Turner||Liberal||1984-06-29||1984-09-16||Inherited||Not elected||n/a||England|
|Brian Mulroney||Progressive Conservative||1984-09-17||1988-11-21||Majority||Manicouagan||Quebec||Quebec|
|Brian Mulroney||Progressive Conservative||1988-11-21||1993-06-24||Majority||Charlevoix||Quebec||Quebec|
|Kim Campbell||Progressive Conservative||1993-06-25||1993-11-03||Inherited||Vancouver Centre||BC||BC|
|Stephen Harper||Conservative||2006-02-06||in office||Minority||Calgary Southwest||Alberta||Ontario|
By province of birth:
|Province||Prime Ministers||Majority terms||Minority terms||Inherited terms|
|Prince Edward Island||0||0||0||0|
|The territories (all)||0||0||0||0|
By this table we can see that a mere one-third of recent Prime Ministers have actually come from Quebec. The same number are from Ontario.
Of the last 14 parliaments, 8 were majorities and 6 were minorities.
Of those 6 minorities, one was won by a Quebec-born leader, one by an Alberta-born leader, and four by Ontario-born leaders.
Of the 8 majorities, all 8 were won by Quebec-born leaders.
If we go by province of representation instead of by province of birth, Ontario loses two prime ministers, each representing one minority, one to each of Alberta and Quebec. By representation, Quebec still represents fewer than one half of recent Prime Ministers.
By any measure, Quebeckers - whether English or French, Liberal or Conserative - have been the most successful Prime Ministers in the last 40 years. We have had 9 prime ministers, but not one single one from outside of Quebec has won a majority government in recent history.
If you do not believe Stéphane Dion is the best candidate for leader of the Liberal party, that's fine with me. I like a lot of the candidates, too. I prefer Dion, but I won't begrudge others' opinions of who is the best man for the job. Say why you prefer your candidate. Say what it is about Dion that you would like to see improved. Discuss policy ideas and alternatives. But don't say that there have been too many Prime Ministers from Quebec and it's time for another province to take a turn. It is not a fair argument: Quebeckers have simply won more elections as leaders, they have not had more leaders.
This leadership race should be about ideas, policies, and the future, not about where leaders are from in relation to previous leaders.
Posted at 08:37 on June 28, 2006
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