Grandfathers and Grandchildren in the Parliament of Canada

Grandfathers and Grandchildren in the Parliament of Canada

Building on an earlier study of Canadian parliamentarians who were part of the same nuclear families, the author explores grandfathers and grandchildren who served as parliamentarians.

In an earlier article, I presented a comparative study of Canadian parliamentarians who lived under the same roof (spouses, parents–children, brothers).1 In this study, I looked at grandfather–grandchild relationships in Parliament. When reporters ask Justin Trudeau how his father influenced his own political career, he tells them that they should not overlook the influence of his maternal grandfather, James Sinclair. Born in Scotland in 1908, Sinclair was a trained civil engineer. He served as a squadron leader in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, and he was elected as the Liberal Member for Vancouver North in 1940 and then for Coast-Capilano in 1949. From 1949 to 1952 he was the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, and then from 1952 to 1957 he served as the Minister of Fisheries. His political career ended nine months later with the second election of John D. Diefenbaker’s Conservative government. He died in 1984 at the age of 75.2

Elementary Kinship Structures in Parliament since 1867

Elementary Kinship Structures in Parliament since 1867

The title of this study is a nod to the distinguished ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–2009) who demonstrated that multiple family structures (monogamous, polyandrous or polygynous; patrilineal, matrilineal or bilateral, extended or restricted) all serve the same social functions to varying degrees. Since 2000, the Library of Parliament’s PARLINFO service has made available on its website kinship ties of senators and MPs from 1867 to the present on its website. This database is the source for this article. It allows us to look at the considerable number of parliamentarians who are spouses, brothers, sons or daughters of other parliamentarians.