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Banner: First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics
The Path to Power

Pierre Trudeau, Canada's 15th prime minister, told Canadians that "men who want very badly to head the country shouldn't be trusted." But in fact, wanting power is very important. Becoming prime minister is not easy and takes many years of work.

After winning the leadership of their party, people who want to be prime minister must fight an election. An election is the ultimate kind of political warfare. There is lots of advertising, which sometimes attacks the other parties' leaders.

King's Mixed Pickles

Did you know? Most of Canada's prime ministers have been lawyers. Some prime ministers worked as teachers, businessmen, doctors, soldiers, and civil servants. Alexander Mackenzie worked as a stonemason (someone who builds things using stones), then a writer, and then a politician.


Key Words

  • party:
    • A group of people who share the same ideas about how to run the country and work together to try win the most seats, or places, in Parliament. The prime minister is the head of the winning party.
  • election:
    • When people vote to choose a representative. There are many different kinds of elections, including elections in schools for student president.
  • representative:
    • A person who represents someone else is taking the place of that person and speaking for them. There can be representatives of one person (like the Queen) or many (like people who are elected to Parliament).
  • civil servant:
    • A person who has a job in the government and is not elected. In most cases, they are the people who carry out the instructions of Parliament.
  • politician:
    • A person who holds or seeks a government office.

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