Two cheers for Mackenzie King (and Lawrence Martin .. and the unsung Canadian political tradition etc)

Nov 8th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950) in 1922 — at the start of his long career as Prime Minister of Canada. Photo : Library of Congress.

We need to be experimenting more these days, throughout the global village it seems. We can’t do anything of consequence about that ourselves, no doubt. (And look what has happened lately to Yes We Can among the broader community of Yankees to the south of us, who must south of us remain.) But we can start experimenting more with this website.

It is often enough said that too many pieces on this site are too long and complex.  As the Great Uncertainty of Fall 2011 continues to gather, we’re experimenting with some shorter and simpler comments. And who knows? Perhaps they will set their own precedent for the future — on this site, as well as in so many other early 21st century places.

So … this morning almost everyone in the office here joined in on an unusually almost joyful round of applause for Lawrence Martin’s column in today’s Globe and Mail. It’s called “The weirdo PM who showed the way.”

This description could fit several historic prime ministers of the Canadian confederation. But the subject in this case is Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1921–1926, 1926–1930, 1934–1948), grandson of the William Lyon Mackenzie who was the leader of the so-called Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837.

The pretext for Lawrence Martin’s thoughts on this always intriguing subject (or should it be object?) of Canadian political history is “a new biography by Allan Levine … one of four biographies of prime ministers appearing this fall in what is a great season for political books, although you wouldn’t know it from the lack of publicity.”

Funeral cortege of Ernest Lapointe in Quebec City, November 29, 1941. Mackenzie King is walking at the head of the procession, bottom slightly right. Lapointe was King’s much trusted and valued Quebec lieutenant for 20 years. The turnout for his funeral in Quebec City in 1941 made King feel that la belle province had joined the 1867 confederation at last. And who knows? The 2011 federal election may suggest that this was true!

All we have to say further is just read Martin’s column : CLICK HERE if you already missed the opportunity above. (And note that the Globe will likely not be leaving it up for free forever.)

It is intermittent political writing of this sort that finally does quite a lot to keep this country going (along with the Bank of Canada, beavers, canoes, comedians, hockey sweaters, investors, TV starlets, and what Mackenzie King himself called “too much geography,” etc ).

Similarly, like we the Canadian people ourselves, and this website, all this remains in need of a lot more experimentation too. Even now, however, we think it’s certainly worth two cheers!

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