Canada's head of government is the Prime Minister, or PM for short,note who by default is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons — though two prime ministers, John Abbott and Mackenzie Bowell, governed while members of the Senate. Three PMs — Charles Tupper, John Turner, and Kim Campbell — never faced Parliament during their tenure. Not coincidentally, all had been appointed PM shortly before an election which saw their party defeated and them removed from power. However, Tupper and Campbell ran for re-election as incumbent MPs, making Turner the only PM who was neither an MP nor a senator.note More common is the PM losing their seat in a general election only to be returned to the Commons in a subsequent by-election, usually in a safe seat for the party after the incumbent has voluntarily stepped down.note The Prime Minister's official residence since 1951 is 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa; however the incumbent Justin Trudeau has not lived there since 2019 as the house is badly dilapidated and in need of major renovations. In typical Canadian fashion, these renovations have been long delayed with no clear end date in sight.
All the country's prime ministers have been from either the Liberal or an incarnation of the Conservative Party, and Kim Campbell is the only woman who has yet held the office.
All prime ministers have been of European descent, and to wit, all have had significant British Isles and/or French extraction. There is no requirement for a prime minister to be "natural-born", and four prime ministers, including three of the first five, were immigrants (albeit all from the United Kingdom, and more specifically Scotland or England).
Seven of the ten provinces have been represented by a sitting prime minister. The three which have not are New Brunswick,note Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador (all in the Atlantic Canada region).note
All prime ministers have been at least nominally Christian, although there is a tradition of anti-clericalism among the many French-Canadian Catholic prime ministers. The current numbers (at least nominally) are: 10 Catholic, 4 Anglican, 3 Presbyterian, 3 Baptist, 2 Methodist (via United Church of Canada), and 1 Evangelical.
Please note that despite the numbers below, Canadian prime ministers—unlike American presidents—are not given multiple denominations for non-consecutive terms. As such, the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is reckoned only the 23rd prime minister, not the 28th.
- Sir John A. Macdonald (Conservative, 1867–1873) — Born in Scotland. The dominant figure in achieving Canadian Confederation, he can essentially be thought of as Canada's functionally-alcoholic answer to George Washington, only without the need for a war or sticking to that whole "two terms" thing. Extended Canada to the Pacific and Arctic coasts and created the North-West Mounted Police to patrol this vast territory, though this also involved suppressing Louis Riel's Red River Rebellion. He governed while serving as MP for Kingston during this time. Ruled with minimal opposition until forced to resign by a corruption scandal related to building the transcontinental Railway, though he remained party leader.
- Alexander Mackenzie — (Liberal, 1873–1878) — Born in Scotland. The first prime minister from the Liberal Party. A stonemason before entering politics, and a staunch anti-aristocrat.note Appointed to office after the fall of the Macdonald government and won a clear majority two months later. Created the Supreme Court, the office of Auditor General, and the Royal Military College. However, he struggled to deal with the economic depression following the Panic of 1873 and progress on the transcontinental railway stalled, resulting in a landslide comeback for Macdonald and the Conservatives. He governed while serving as MP for Lambton. Remained leader of the Opposition until 1880, when Edward Blake succeeded him for his second turn at the helm of the party, and an MP until his death in 1892. The first prime minister with facial hair (a beard).
- Sir John A. Macdonald (Conservative, 1878–1891) — Returned to power after a five-year hiatus and ruled the country until his death largely by championing a "National Policy" of fostering national unity via the transcontinental railway, industrial growth via protective tariffs, and settling Western Canada via immigration that would remain relatively unchanged until World War II. This helped touch off a second conflict with Louis Riel, whose subsequent execution alienated Quebecers (most of whom, like Riel, were Catholic Francophones). Died in office just three months after winning his record sixth majority,note and was immediately hailed as (and proved to be) a very Tough Act to Follow. He governed while serving as MP for Victoria (from 1878 to 1882), Lennox (briefly in 1882), Carleton (1882–1887), and Kingston (1887–1891) during this time. One of the bridges linking Ottawa to Gatineau is named after him and his French-Canadian political partner George-Étienne Cartier, as are Ottawa's international airport and Ontario Highway 401, whose Toronto-area section is the busiest road in North America.
- Sir John Abbott (Conservative, 1891–1892) — An English Quebecker and the first native-born prime minister. As the Conservative government leader in the Senate, where he was the senator for the division of Inkerman,note he only took the job after John Thompson turned it down, and essentially just held the fort for 18 months before retiring, dying less than a year after leaving office. He is also the great-grandfather of Christopher Plummer.
- Sir John Thompson (Conservative, 1892–1894) — A Nova Scotian protégé of Macdonald, he was also the first Catholic prime minister and at just 47 the youngest to hold the office until 1920, almost thirty years later. Was actually offered the office before Abbott, but initially declined because of concerns of prejudice towards his Catholicism after Converting for Love. Also served as his own Justice minister and did a respectable job, but died of a heart attacknote after just two years at age 49, making him Canada's most What Could Have Been PM and the one with the shortest lifespan; every living PM has outlived him, every other deceased PM lived to be at least 70 years old, and every living person who's served as PM except for Harper and Justin Trudeau is more than 70 years old. He governed while serving as MP for Antigonish. After Macdonald, he's the second and last (to date) prime minister to die in office.
- Sir Mackenzie Bowellnote (Conservative, 1894–1896) — Born in England. Like Abbott, as senior cabinet minister and government Senate leader, power fell to him after Thompson's death. He then spent two years floundering around over the divisive issue of public-school funding in Manitoba until forced to resign by a cabinet coup. Generally considered the country's worst prime minister, excluding those who only held power for a few months. The country's only PM to have a full beard.note Second and last prime minister to govern from the Senate (wherein he represented Ontario at large), which he remained a member of until his death at age 93 in 1917.
- Sir Charles Tupper (Conservative, May–July 1896) — The country's shortest-serving prime minister (69 days), as well as the oldest to assume office (at age 74). He governed while serving as MP for Cape Breton. Previously the premier who led Nova Scotia into Confederation in 1867, Tupper was thrust directly into an uphill election and almost won, but ultimately failed thanks to his party's internal bickering over schools in Manitoba and the Liberals flipping the script on economics by embracing much of Macdonald's old National Policy. In the end, Tupper's party won the popular vote (48% to 41%), but a Liberal landslide in Quebec and near draw in Anglophone Canada brought the opposition party a 55% majority of seats, and when Tupper insisted on trying to go on governing, Governor General Lord Aberdeen simply refused to cooperate, prompting Tupper's resignation. He tried again in the 1900 election and was soundly defeated, even losing his riding. Still got a mountain named after him, though. Ironically, the shortest-serving PM was also the longest-lived, dying at the age of 94 in 1915.
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Liberal, 1896–1911) — The country's first Francophone prime minister and the only one to hold office for 15 consecutive years after Confederation, as well as the national record-holder for longest-serving MP (45 years, 3 weeks) and major party leader (31 years, 8½ months). He was the first PM to serve under three monarchs (Victoria, Edward VII, and George V) and the first to serve as PM for a monarch's entire reign (that of Edward VII). Sought and found compromise on the Manitoba Schools Question, and later on imperial relations with Britain by sending volunteers rather than militia to the Boer War and establishing the Royal Canadian Navy rather than sending money to aid Britain in its naval arms race with Imperial Germany, but also raised the head tax on Chinese immigrants from fifty dollars (established by Macdonald) to five hundred dollars, and his government fell when it tried to reverse the old National Policy and increase "reciprocity" (i.e., free trade) with the United States. Also created the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan from the Northwest Territories, and established Quebec as the Liberals' primary base by softening the party's anti-clerical stance and opposing conscription in 1917, which led to a short-term drubbing but great long-term success for the party. He governed while serving as MP for Quebec East. Died in office as leader of the Opposition in 1919. Widely considered one of the Power Trio of prime ministers, along with John A. Macdonald and W. L. Mackenzie King, Laurier has been depicted on the Canadian $5 bill since 1972. He and Macdonald have a political think tank named after them as well.
- Sir Robert Borden (Conservative/Unionist, 1911–1920) — The last prime minister born before Confederation and the last Nova Scotian to hold the office. He governed while serving as MP for Halifax during his first mandate and Kings during his second. Recognizable by his moustache. After a decade floundering as opposition leader, he proved a popular and effective prime minister after gaining power, giving women the right to vote, establishing a proper taxation system, and taking Canada through World War I and into the League of Nations while lobbying for greater autonomy within the British Empire.note Ran for re-election during the war as part of the Unionist Party coalition of pro-war, pro-conscription Conservatives and Liberals while Laurier led a rump Liberal-dominated Opposition ("Laurier Liberals"). No party has ever bettered the 56.9% of the popular vote won by Borden's coalition in 1917. However, the conscription policies he imposed during the war and the violent crackdown on the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, would come back to hurt the party in the long run, especially in Quebec. The last prime minister to be knighted; the inconsistently enforced "Nickle Resolution" barring Canadian citizens from accepting "foreign honours" due to several scandals sprouting from controversial British peerages being awarded to Canadian supporters of the war effort was passed during his term. Died in 1937. Depicted on the Canadian $100 bill since 1976 but slated for removal (probably to make room for John A. Macdonald, who was displaced from the $10 by Viola Desmond in 2018).
- Arthur Meighen (Liberal-Conservative, 1920–1921) — The only PM who represented a Manitoba riding, governing while serving as MP for Portage la Prairie.note First came to prominence as minister of justice under Borden, though also gained some measure of infamy by his involvement in the implementation of conscription, plus his handling the Winnipeg General Strike. Though touted as the handpicked successor to Borden after the latter decided to step down with just over a year of his term remaining, in reality he was the only Tory who really wanted the top job, as Borden's other cabinet members were either too old, infirm, or knew the party had little chance of staying in power at the next election. Although he tried to maintain the 1917 coalition under the "Liberal-Conservative" brand, he promptly lost the 1921 election (including his own seat) and saw his party fall to third place behind the new Progressive Party.
- William Lyon Mackenzie King (Liberal, 1921–1926) — The country's longest-serving prime minister and the only one to serve three non-consecutive terms. A lifelong bachelor and eccentric who believed in the occult and regularly consulted mediums, but also a benchmark Chessmaster of Canadian politics. He governed while serving as the MP for York North during this time. Currently depicted on the Canadian $50 bill. Coming to power at the head of Canada's first true minority government,note he struggled to find his feet and had to rely on support from the new Progressive Party. His 1925 re-election bid saw his party lose the popular vote and drop 15 seats behind the Conservatives, and he lost his own seat. However, King refused to give up power and succeeded where Charles Tupper had failed by calling on his Progressive allies to prop up his government. This coalition quickly collapsed, however, when a cabinet minister was discovered to have taken bribes, so King pre-empted censure by asking Governor General Julian Byng to call a new election. When Byng declined, insisting that Meighen's larger Conservative caucus also deserved a chance to form a government, King denounced this as "foreign intervention", resulting in the infamous King–Byng Affair. Another interesting fact is that his grandfather and namesake, William Lyon Mackenzie, was the leader of the failed republican Upper Canada Rebellion back in 1837 and the following Patriot War of 1838, and the only President of the unrecognized Republic of Canada, as well as being the first mayor of Toronto.
- Arthur Meighen (Conservative, 1926) — An extremely short-lived return. Unable to risk losing a confidence vote while his cabinet was absent seeking the traditional validation of token by-elections, Meighen appointed only acting ministers. However, this—combined with his own controversial appointment—just convinced the Progressives to go back to the Liberals and bring down Meighen's government (by a margin of one vote) after just three days. In the ensuing election, the Liberals campaigned as much against the Governor General's right to appoint Meighen as Meighen himself, and made an informal pact against vote-splitting with the Progressives, resulting in Meighen winning the largest popular vote (again) but losing the electionnote and his own seat again.note Died in 1960.
- W.L. Mackenzie King (Liberal, 1926–1930) — Second term in office. Despite being a lifelong Ontarian, now he was governing while serving as MP for Prince Albert in Saskatchewan. Did a little better than his first time around, introducing old-age pensions, devolving more power to the provinces, and gradually increasing Canadian autonomy from Britain, but lost re-election thanks to the onset of The Great Depression, which he initially considered temporary or even a "Tory conspiracy", and infamously claimed he "would not give a five-cent piece" for provincial unemployment relief.
- R.B. Bennett, 1st Viscount Bennett (Conservative, 1930–1935) — The first PM to represent an Alberta riding, namely Calgary West.note Managed to win power with a very polished election campaign (including an early appreciation of the radio), only to take the Herbert Hoover approach of assuming the Depression would fix itself. Ultimately realized his mistake and tried to replicate Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" by instituting a progressive income tax, a minimum wage, a limited workweek, unemployment and health insurance, expanded pensions, and bailouts for farmers. However, this wasn't enough to appease his critics and only prompted a split within his own party, with the resulting backlash wrecking the original Conservative Party as an electoral force, forcing them to merge with elements of the dying Progressive Party. Founded the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Wheat Board, and the Bank of Canada. Also probably the richest Canadian ever elected PM, and his personal charity to those afflicted by the Depression outstripped his income, exceeding $2.3 million. Bennett himself retired to England in 1938, where he was later appointed to the British House of Lords (in apparent violation of the Nickle Resolution passed during Borden's government but without any repercussions) for his unpaid work for the British Ministry of Aircraft Production during World War II. He is the only former PM to be elevated to the peerage.note Died in 1947.
- W.L. Mackenzie King (Liberal, 1935–1948) — His third, longest, and most influential term as Prime Minister. After tactfully playing Commander Contrarian in Opposition, took back power after the worst of the Depression was past and set about helping the recovery by expanding the financial and social welfare systems and trade with the United States. Also reconstituted the Canadian (Radio) Broadcasting Corporation as a government corporation, nationalized the Bank of Canada, and established the precursor of Air Canada. King won a majority of the popular vote for the first and only time in his 1940 re-election bid with 51.3% of the vote; the Liberals have never done better in Canadian history. Led Canada through World War II and into the United Nations, with mixed results ranging from successes in economic, scientific, and industrial mobilization to ambiguities like finessing the conscription issue to discredits like Japanese internment camps. Continued governing while serving as MP for Prince Albert until he surprisingly lost the seat despite the Liberals retaining government in the 1945 federal election; MP William MacDiarmid stood down from the Glengarry riding where he'd been re-elected for King. Retired from the head of the government in 1948 and from the House of Commons in 1949. He was the second PM to serve under three monarchs (George V, Edward VIII, and George VI) and the second to serve for a monarch's entire reign (granted, Edward VIII reigned for less than a year and King, like all the other Commonwealth PMs, was in favour of abdication). Died in 1950.
- Louis St. Laurent (Liberal, 1948–1957) — Mackenzie King's Quebec lieutenant and hand-picked successor. Like Laurier, he governed while serving as MP for Quebec East, making that one of two constituencies to be represented by multiple sitting prime ministers. Popularly known as "Uncle Louis", he cultivated a paternal image, right down to having an honest-to-goodness Standard '50s Father moustache (here's a photo of him in 1954◊). Took Canada into NATO and expanded the country's military presence (including the Korean War), along with establishing most of the country's current boundaries (incorporating Newfoundland as the tenth province) and federal structure. Also oversaw major infrastructure projects like the Trans-Canada Highway, Trans-Canada Pipeline, and St. Lawrence Seaway. Presided over a long post-war boom, before an economic downturn and fatigue with 36 years of almost continuous Liberal power brought down his government. Some Liberals suggested that he should try to cling to power with a coalition as King had in 1925,note but St. Laurent considered this unsustainable and, being 75 years old, was ready to retire, so he passed power to Diefenbaker. He was the first of Queen Elizabeth II's twelve Canadian prime ministers — yes, the majority of Canada's PMs have served under a single monarch! Died in 1973.
- John Diefenbaker (Progressive-Conservative, 1957–1963) — The first prime minister of substantially non-British or French heritage (his father was the son of German immigrants), and the only prime minister from Saskatchewan.note He governed while serving as the MP for Prince Albert, making that the second constituency to be represented by multiple incumbent prime ministers.note Rose to prominence after he successfully argued in court against the conviction of a dispatcher accused of negligence in a deadly train wreck. After two unsuccessful attempts,note he was elected as party leader in late 1956, and was the leader who really cemented the Tories as a primarily western populist party. Initially elected to a minority government, when the Liberals called on him to resign for causing an economic downturn after just nine months, he showed the Liberals had predicted the downturn but done nothing about it, called an election, and won the biggest majority government in Canadian history (208 of 265 seats; no party since has outperformed the 53.67% of the popular vote, 78.5% of seats, or 151-seat overall majority Diefenbaker's PCs got that year). Passed substantial civil rights legislation including the Canadian Bill of Rights and voting rights for Indigenous people, and appointed the first female cabinet minister (Ellen Fairclough, who was his Secretary of State for Canada — basically the go-between with the British government — and later minister for citizenship and immigration). Joined with the US to create NORAD, but cancelled the Avro Arrow (largely because the advent of ballistic missiles limited the need for interceptor fighters).note Personally very thin-skinned, he got along superbly with Dwight D. Eisenhower but just pissed off John F. Kennedy. His refusal to let the US install ballistic missile defences with nuclear warheads, which resulted in a revolt by his cabinet, helped cause his downfall. After leaving office, remained leader of the Opposition until 1967, when Robert Stanfield succeeded him, and an MP until his death in 1979. Has an airport (in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan's largest city) and a large lake named after him.
- Lester B. Pearson (Liberal, 1963–1968) — A distinguished diplomat and winner of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize. He had been Minister of External Affairs during the King and St. Laurent ministries, and is generally credited with developing the idea of United Nations peacekeeping (mostly in response to the Arab–Israeli Conflict). After a less than auspicious start leading the Liberals to their worst defeat to date, he eventually rebounded and won power, with substantial help from President Kennedy. Over five years and two minority governments, during which he also served as MP for Algoma East, he mostly laid the groundwork for what would follow under his successor, but also introduced the current Canadian flag (much to Diefenbaker's chagrin) and the country's current healthcare, pension, and immigration systems. In international affairs, he reversed Diefenbaker's policy and allowed US nukes into Canada but did not send troops to fight in The Vietnam War. Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the busiest airport in the country serving its largest city, has been named for him since 1984. He was the last PM born in the 19th century and the most recent to represent a riding in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, though three subsequent PMsnote were born there. All five subsequent Liberal PMs to date either served directly in Pearson's cabinet or were sons of men who did. Died in 1972.
- Pierre Trudeau (Liberal, 1968–1979) — One of the country's most well-remembered, but also controversial prime ministers, who legalized homosexuality, pushed for official bilingualism and invoked military force during an attempted Quebec uprising (both of which were unpopular at the time, but in retrospect likely helped stop the province from seceding), but also gained a reputation for economic turmoil, backtracking on policies, and behaving arrogantly towards political opponents (one (in)famous example). He governed while serving as MP for Mount Royal. He deliberately defined himself in opposition to US President Richard Nixon by welcoming the many draft dodgers who fled across the border with open arms and seeking closer relationships with the West's traditional enemies, particularly Chairman Mao Zedong of China (which Nixon eventually did too) and especially Fidel Castro of Cuba, who became a close friend and even attended his funeral. Trudeau also instituted the metric system in 1977, resulting in a bastardized system.note Lost power due to soaring inflation and introducing (among other things) price controls after pledging he wouldn't do so.
- Joe Clark (Progressive-Conservative, 1979–1980) — The only prime minister born in Alberta, as well as the youngest, taking office just a day short of his 40th birthday. Originally regarded as something of a joke by the Canadian press, who dubbed him "Joe Who?" contrasting his soberly attitude with the charismatic Trudeau and portraying him, tall and thin with an oversized head, as a walking candy apple, he eventually became regarded as an effective opposition leader and managed to win the 1979 election. He governed while serving as MP for Yellowhead. Managed to win a minority government against expectations, but was unable to strike an alliance with any of the three smaller parties, though he did poach one of the six Social Credit MPs elected in 1979. His brief term in office happened to coincide with the Iranian diplomatic hostage crisis, and not only did Clark and his Secretary of State for External Affairs, Flora McDonald, have to oversee an extremely tense situation in Tehran, but in the end it was Clark who had to call for secret authorization of Canadian passports for the (eventually successful exfiltration of) six hidden American "houseguests", without specifying what the passports were for. After just nine months, his government tried to raise fuel taxes in its budget but lost the ensuing vote of confidence when the five remaining Socreds abstained after Clark refused to allocate the new revenues to Quebec, and then proceeded to lose the general election that resulted. One of Clark's ministers called the short nine month government, "Long enough to conceive, just not long enough to deliver". (As their reward, the Socreds never again elected a member to Parliament.) By 1983, fearing internal dissent after only two-thirds of the party supported his leadership, Clark called a leadership race and was trounced by his 1976 rival Brian Mulroney, who proceeded to take the party back into power. Remained an MP after his defeat, serving on Mulroney's frontbenches until his (temporary) retirement in 1993. The most recent PM to try to return to office after a defeat, Clark led the rump PCs in the 2000 election (Prime Minister Chretien often called him the "real leader of the opposition" as opposed to Preston Manning, the leader of the right wing Reform Party, which was treated as a "western grievances" party). The result was a disappointing drop-off from their modest 1997 recovery,note prompting Clark's retirement and a merger with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern Conservatives, a move he opposed so firmly that he sat as an independent for the last six months before he retired from the House for good. Still living, the earliest PM for whom this is the case (though he was still born later than four of his successors, not counting Pierre Trudeau who preceded and succeeded him, so this isn't that surprising). He's also the only person in Canada who's led government even though their party never won the popular vote.note
- Pierre Trudeau (Liberal, 1980–1984) — Cancelled his retirement when Clark's government fell, returned to the head of his party and to the PMO, and soundly defeated the Quebec secessionist movement in a 1980 referendum, largely by promising constitutional reform. This resulted in the 1982 patriation of the Canadian constitution,note the final step in Canada's independence from Britain, but also in long and bitter negotiations with the provinces that ended with Quebec as the odd province out, setting the stage for continued rancour in Quebec and forever staining Trudeau's reputation in his native province. Meanwhile, a series of difficult budgets and soaring inflation, interest rates, and unemployment did nothing to improve Trudeau's economic reputation, and his already-bitter relationship with Western Canadanote soured even further when he responded to the era's energy crisis by creating the National Energy Program, which western provinces saw as a devastating (and unconstitutional) federal intrusion into their oil-rich economy and prompted such a backlash that the idea of the western provinces separating from Canada actually gained some traction.note With his personal and party popularity approaching rock-bottom levels, Trudeau took "a long walk in the snow" and decided to resign for good in 1984, but on his way out the door he recommended over 200 Liberals (some with doubtful qualifications) to patronage positions as senators, judges, and bureaucratic and Crown corporation executives, which generated yet more political backlash for his successor. Died in 2000.
- John Turner (Liberal, June–September 1984) — Born in England; the last foreign-born PM to date. Returned to politics after nine years away to beat out Trudeau's protégé Jean Chrétien as party leader, thus becoming PM despite lacking a seat in Parliament (he called his own approach "governing from the hallway"). In addition to maintaining Trudeau's controversial patronage appointments, Turner made a further 70 patronage appointments himself. Misled by polls showing a Liberal surge, rather than parachute into a safe seat in a by-election Turner called a general election almost as soon as he took office despite not being required to do so for another year, and proceeded to run one of the most incompetent electoral campaigns in Canadian history, resulting in the Liberals' worst-ever defeat up to that point.note Despite this, Turner did oust Tory MP Bill Clarke in the riding of Vancouver Quadra in British Columbia, the only seat the Liberals flipped in 1984.note He also chose to stay on as party leader and came close to a comeback campaigning against free trade with the US in the 1988 election, but ultimately failed when the PCs dropped the gloves and mercilessly targeted Turner's personal credibility. This second failure prompted Turner's resignation as party leader in 1990, only for his favoured successor Paul Martin to lose the leadership to Jean Chrétien. As a result, Turner is the only Liberal PM never to win an electoral mandate while leading the party. The most recent PM to die, in 2020, at the age of 91, putting him in the company of Bowell and Tupper as men who barely lasted as prime minister but lived long in person.
- Brian Mulroney (Progressive-Conservative, 1984–1993) — An Anglophone Quebecker. Won two enormous majorities, and was part of the 1980s Conservative Power Trio with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. His friendship with Reagan was particularly strong,note generally regarded as the closest between any Canadian PM and American president, and produced the predecessor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He governed while serving as MP for Manicouagan during his first mandate and Charlevoix during his second. His 1984 landslide marked the last time any party won a majority of the popular vote, and the last time to date any party has won over 200 seats (211, to be precise, the most seats any party has won in Canada and second-largest seat percentage and majority after those Diefenbaker got in 1958). However, his botched handling of Quebec sovereignty and the Goods and Services Tax, combined with allegations of personal corruption in the Airbus Affair, wrecked the popularity of Mulroney, his government, and his party, prompting his key bases in Quebec and Western Canada to split off into the Bloc Québécois and Reform Party, respectively. Recognizing the inevitable (his approval rating bottomed out at 12%!note ), he jumped ship just six months before he had to call an election. This technicality makes him the first prime minister to win every election they contested. Still living.
- Kim Campbell (Progressive-Conservative, June–November 1993) — Canada's only female prime minister, and the only one born in British Columbia.note Taking over with only four months remaining of Mulroney's mandate, initially it looked like she might achieve the seemingly impossible and keep the Tories in power. During the election, however, her Brutal Honesty approach proved a turn-off to voters, the party's manifesto was criticised for its confused and inconsistent policies, and most damagingly, the Tories released an attack advert that was perceived to be mocking Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's facial paralysis — Campbell didn't authorise the ad's creation, but her indecision vis-à-vis whether to apologise for it just made the affairs go From Bad to Worse. Ultimately, the Tories lost all but two of their seats, including Campbell's own seat of Vancouver Centre,note though her personal popularity remained high (48%). This makes her the most recent prime minister not to win their own mandate as a party leader. Still living.
- Jean Chrétien (Liberal, 1993–2003) — A veteran of Pierre Trudeau's governments, who dropped out of politics for a while after a very short-lived stint as deputy PM to John Turner, before making a comeback in the early 1990s. Won election in a landslide thanks to the Progressive-Conservative implosion and the opposition being severely fragmented, and was a popular prime minister for a while, but came to be seen (especially in retrospect) as incredibly corrupt and arrogant. He did at least manage to persuade Quebec not to secede from the rest of the country in a 1995 referendum (which is probably why the Queen gave him the ludicrously prestigious Order of Merit). He governed while serving as MP for Saint-Maurice. The second PM to win every election they contested and the most recent one to date who had a majority government throughout their premiership; his final victory in 2000 also marks the last time to date that any party has received over 40% of the popular vote. Known for being inarticulate, he was memorably described as "fluent in neither of Canada's official languages."note He famously told punk rock journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette "For me, pepper, I put it on my plate" after being told about a crowd of protesters in Vancouver getting pepper-sprayed at an APEC conference. Also noted for suffering from paralysis on the left side of his face due to a childhood bout with Bell's palsy, with Campbell's massive election defeat partly attributed to a TV ad that her party released, which was seen (intentionally or otherwise) to be mocking his disfigurement; Chrétien famously responded to the ad by saying that, while he could only talk out one side of his mouth, Conservatives would talk out of both. Still living and currently the oldest living former PM.note
- Paul Martin (Liberal, 2003–2006) — The son of another high-ranking Liberal politician, Paul Martin Sr., who had repeatedly failed to win the Liberal leadership.note Paul Jr. was a bit more successful, only for the scandals that had been building up under Chrétien's reign to blow up at last (to be fair, Martin himself was implicated in several of them), costing him power after just over two years. For British readers, he's basically the Gordon Brown to Chrétien's Tony Blair, right down to a lengthy and extremely successful tenure as Finance minister, and a very long-standing rivalry with Chrétien dating back to their fight for the party leadership in 1990, resulting in over a decade of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and the entire Liberal Party dividing into "Chrétienite" and "Martini" factions with the latter eventually forcing the former out of office. Unlike Brown, however, Martin did (barely) manage to win an election (with a minority government) in 2004. He governed while serving as MP for LaSalle—Émard. His most lasting legislative contribution is probably the legalization of same-sex marriage. Still living.
- Stephen Harper (Conservative, 2006–2015) — The first prime minister from the new Conservative Party, the only Baby Boomer elected to the office,note and the only PM in Canadian history to perform successively better in three elections (four if you count the one in 2004 before he became PM), starting out with a pair of minorities before earning a strong majority in 2011.note He governed while serving as MP for Calgary Southwest. Instituted the Accountability Act and a law to fix the maximum lifespan of Parliament at four years, and lowered the Goods and Services Tax, but his tenure came to be dominated by the Great Recession, which Canada weathered better than most thanks to prior regulation and pragmatic management including generous stimulus spending that ran contrary to conservative dogma. However, in 2011, his government also achieved a Medal of Dishonor by being the first in Commonwealth history to be found in contempt of Parliament, forcing a general election, but the public quickly decided the whole thing was a bunch of fuss over nothing and handed him a majority. Stiff and stodgy like many past Conservative leaders, he was never personally popular but governed fairly moderately (if at times underhandedly), especially when he had only minority governments, focusing on fiscal issues while avoiding divisive social issues, though his steadfast support for Canadian oil, especially that derived from bituminous sands in northern Alberta that is a lot more resource-intensive to produce, grew more controversial as climate change emerged as a rising global concern. Like Tony Blair in the UK, Harper had the good fortune of facing several terrible (and uncharismatic) opponents in a row.note Ultimately, he lost power in 2015 thanks to factors including an ill-timed recession, a manifesto seen as too right-wing, and complacency over the seemingly moribund Liberal Party. He's also notorious for his public relations with the two US presidents he served alongside: his cozy relationship with George W. Bush (who famously called him "Steve"note ) and his awkward relationship with Barack Obama, who was essentially his polar opposite. Quit as Conservative leader on election night in 2015 and resigned from the House in summer 2016. Still living, and currently chair of the International Democrat Union, a global alliance of right-wing parties.
- Justin Trudeau (Liberal, 2015–present) — Canada's current prime minister and the second youngest person ever to hold that title, assuming office at 43. He's governing while serving as MP for Papineau. The eldest son of Pierre Trudeau,note he's the first PM descended directly from a previous one and the first from Generation X. Won power against expectations in 2015 after the Liberals had been reduced to third place in the previous election. Has very much modelled his image on that of Barack Obama, right down to attracting plaudits on the world stage as a hip young progressive who says all the right things despite having a much more complex record at home. (Rightly or wrongly, he is widely perceived to have run to the left of the New Democratic Party under Tom Mulcair in 2015.) After the election of Donald Trump, Trudeau generally followed his father's footsteps in defining himself as a Foil to an unpopular American president. Assuming office with near record approval ratings, he appointed the country's first gender-balanced cabinet (fifteen men and fifteen women, not counting himself) and legalized marijuana, but curiously reneged on a promise to implement proportional representation (made when his party was in third place with disproportionately few seats) after his party won a majority with under 40% of the vote. However, several controversial policies and a series of scandals, especially the 2019 SNC-Lavalin Affair which prompted a series of high-profile resignations after Trudeau and his staff were accused of inappropriately pressuring and then demoting Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould for refusing to intervene in a bribery and fraud case against a Montreal corporation tied closely to his party (and to the Conservatives, albeit less tightly), have badly sullied his image and opinions of him are now very polarized. History repeated itself when he ran for re-election in 2019, as like his father he lost his majority but remained in power with the implicit support of the New Democratic Party, albeit with a much more comfortable seat advantage than Pierre enjoyed in 1972. Unlike his father, however, he also lost the popular vote, becoming the first PM since Joe Clark to win a general election without winning the popular vote, and setting a new national record for the lowest popular vote for a governing party with just 33%.note Grew a beard during his second term — amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic — making him the first PM with facial hair in over six decades, but shaved it ahead of calling a snap election in 2021. The snap election was controversial, as it was a costly affairnote that forced candidates to go out and campaign at a time the country was trying to get control over the spread of a highly contagious disease. However, the Liberals maintained their place as the governing minority in an election that maintained the status quo, but with even less of the popular vote than in 2019. To stave off the Conservatives' repeated threats to bring down the government, Trudeau made a deal with the New Democrats under Jagmeet Singh in early 2022 to implement key parts of the NDP platform, specifically a national dental plan, in return of guaranteeing their supporting the government on all confidence matters until the next election. Following the death of Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, Trudeau is the first Canadian PM to serve under King Charles III. Still living, obviously.