CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Impact of Joe Clark's Political Career

History, Political Science, Business Studies, Social Studies
2 to 3 lessons
To interpret and synthesize information in order to form conclusions and present findings
Using a variety of web-based resources, students research Joe Clark and the impact of his political career and leadership.

Lesson Plan


Joe Clark was a relatively unknown politician when he became leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and then defeated Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to become the youngest prime minister in Canada's history. Clark stood for a government based upon openness and democracy. Later, Clark led what has been called "the most effective opposition in Canadian history." Clark is known for his unending commitment to Canada and has provided leadership in various ways. To many Canadians, he is well known and respected for his integrity and vision.

The Task

Students will complete in-depth research about Clark and his role in the Canadian government. From their research, students will prepare a report explaining whether they think Clark's impact on Canada was positive or negative. Students may wish to use the following structure to organize their report:

- Beginnings 1966-1972
- The House of Commons 1972-1976
- Leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
- Prime Minister of Canada
- Losing to Brian Mulroney
- Returning as Leader in 1998
- Joe Clark Today

The Process

Students will work individually. They should begin by reviewing all of the clips on the topic The Man from High River: Joe Clark on the CBC Digital Archives website, including the Did You Know? sections. They should access federal government websites to get current information and can use any other resources they find useful. Students should keep careful notes to support their position and should document and cite the sources they consult.


Once students have completed their individual written reports, they will present their findings to small groups. As they listen to each other's work, they should note and discuss the similarities and the differences among the class. Each group should document the most commonly noted negative and positive contributions of Clark. Students may choose to write a letter to Clark to ask questions about why he made various decisions during his political career.

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