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Sir John A Macdonald: Canada's Greatest Citizen

03/18/2013 04:27 EDT | Updated 05/18/2013 05:12 EDT

In 2004 -- inspired partly by a BBC series titled Great Britons -- CBC asked Canadians to choose the "greatest Canadian of all the time." Tommy Douglas won.

Sir John A. Macdonald came seventh. Canada's first Prime Minister should have come first. He is the greatest Canadian citizen that gave us modern day Canada with the likes of George Brown. The former Prime Minister stands out as the very best visionary that dreamed for us a country while building great institutions.

We are two years away from his 200th anniversary and it seems the country is mute in what should be a grand planned celebration. Canadians should reflect and celebrate his unique contributions to confederation.

His is a long list of accomplishments that new generations of Canadians should be aware of. Among them are uniting upper and lower Canada and being the father of confederation. He was also known us being instrumental in the creation of the Trans-Canadian railroad.

In later years, he helped bring P.E.I., all the territories and British Columbia to be part of the new confederation. In the poorer provinces, he saw them at their best -- at their potential. He became the great architect of affirmative action principles that believed in the destination of all of our provinces instead of their shortcomings.

How is Canada celebrating a great milestone that is only two years away? According to Heritage Minister James Moore, the government will "support projects that will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald in 2015." He also continued how the "Historica-Dominion Institute will receive support to create two new Heritage Minute videos featuring Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier."

This is a shame. For a country and a new generation of Canadians that knows no Canadian history passed Tommy Douglas, this would have been a great opportunity if Canada had a nationwide celebration with urgency, importance and executed by the government. The way Jean Chretien's government marked the 20th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedom in 2002.

In 2005, Arthur Milnes started a small group in Kingston to help celebrate his hero - Canada's hero. His intention was to encourage "Canadian citizens and governments to recognize more fully" the contributions of our former Prime Minister. In time, it merged with another group and formed The Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission.

Its mission is to make the celebration national from its small headquarters in Kingston -- the birthplace of the former Prime Minister. The group receives limited government grants and private donations.

However, for such an ambitious project, the group is facing a setback. According to Arthur Milnes via his well-read Facebook page, "The Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission could use a hand. And while I hate asking my friends for help, I believe so strongly in the cause that I am going to do just that this evening. We've had a delay in approved funding from a public sector body (not the feds)."

He continues, "As a result, things are tight right now for the Commission. If you could consider donations of even $25, $50, $75 or $100, you'd help us bridge this delay. While we'll be fine long-term, this temporary need is pressing. Recently, former Premiers Bill Davis of Ontario, Gary Filmon of Manitoba, Danny Williams of Newfoundland and so many others have responded generously to my private appeals for help. Former Prime Ministers Martin, Turner and others have as well."

To celebrate the greatest Canadian, charity should not have been the focal point. Canada should never beg via her citizens to mark the life of a magnificent and important man such as Sir John A Macdonald. In the meantime, we should all donate to this cause in the absence of government leadership. With or without enough government support -- Sir John A Macdonald needs to be noted and celebrated by us all.