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Alone at the Top
The Path to Power
Leading Canada
Private Life
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Banner: First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and PoliticsBanner: Leading Canada, with photos

"To be Prime Minister of Canada, you need the hide of a rhinoceros, the morals of St. Francis, the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the leadership of Napoleon, the magnetism of a Beatle and the subtlety of Machiavelli."  -- Lester Pearson, 1964

Once political power is achieved, it is followed by a far more daunting challenge: leading the country. In so doing, the prime minister must contend with a wide range of competing forces, including the Cabinet, the party and caucus, Parliament, the media, public-interest groups, extra-parliamentary opposition, provincial premiers, foreign leaders  -  and the voters. Within this context, the prime minister assumes responsibility for the machinery of government, developing the policies and legislation that will address the problems confronting Canadian society. Given the dimensions of the task, it is not surprising that many leaders have found Canada to be a difficult country to govern. However, as the political commentator Richard Gwyn noted, perhaps the real challenge for the prime minister is not so much that Canada is difficult to govern, but rather that "it is almost an impossible country to lead."

Choosing and Chairing Cabinet

Maintaining Party Unity

Dealing with the Opposition

Policy and Legislation

International Role

Dealing with the Premiers

Relationship with the Public

Relationship with the Media

Trappings and Perks