John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was a Canadian lawyer, businessman and politician. He was Canada’s first prime minister and held this position from 1867 to 1873 and 1878 to 1891. Macdonald was head of the Conservative Party and defended conservative rights. For example, he was against the right of women to vote and he was close to the church.

The creation of Canada

Macdonald was the first politician to support the union of all of the British North American colonies. He believed that this new union had to have one strong central government. The British North America Act, which resulted in the creation of Canada on July 1, 1867, was a direct result of Macdonald’s thinking. The federal government holds the power for the post office, the army, currency, banks and criminal rights. It also has other important powers over areas that did not exist in 1867, such as the rules governing television. Finally, the federal government has the power to disallow provincial legislation. It can overturn a law passed by a provincial legislature if it considers it is against the national interest.

His accomplishments

In addition to the role John A. Macdonald played in the creation of Canada, he made his mark on Canadian history through some of his other political actions. Construction of a railroad linking all of Canada, from the Maritimes to British Colombia, began during his first term as prime minister. This railroad made it easier for western provinces to be colonized and to become a part of Confederation. During the 1878 election, Macdonald proposed a national to help ease a difficult economic situation. In order to protect Canadian companies, this policy raised customs tariffs on products being imported from other countries. This policy restarted the Canadian economy in the 1880s.

Author:   Alexandre Lanoix