Lesson Plan: Profiles in Leadership: Presidents and Prime Ministers
Brainstorm what the students know about the current Canadian prime minister and American president. Gather their impressions of these leaders and list words they would use to characterize them. Have students name as many post-Second World War prime ministers and presidents as they can and list their impressions of these politicians as well.
Outline the Opportunity
Assign small groups one of the following prime ministers or presidents:
Prime Ministers: Mackenzie King, John G. Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien
Presidents: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush
Direct groups to the topic Mr. President Goes to Ottawa on the CBC Digital Archives website to browse the part of the site dealing with their politician. Groups should gather as much information as they can about this leader and his role in Canadian-American relations at the time he held office. Groups will prepare and present a detailed political and personal profile of their leader, using visual displays such as photos, cartoons, newspaper articles, quotations, or other materials downloaded and properly cited from the internet. Groups will also develop a summary sheet with information about their subject and distribute it to the class.
Revisit and Reflect
After the presentations, summarize with the class the progress of Canadian-American relations through the various prime ministers. Ask: Which prime ministers were most successful at maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States? Why? Which prime ministers had a more difficult relationship with the United States? Why? Have students support their responses with information from the website or from the summary sheets distributed during the presentations.
Students can prepare a two-page biographical profile of one president or prime minister, stating important information about his life and career, how his administration affected Canadian-American relations, and how they would evaluate him as a political leader.