Tonight, get ready for the premiere of John A: Birth of a Country, airing on CBC Television. The two-hour political thriller follows the fight for power between charismatic Conservative leader John A. Macdonald and his opponent George Brown, leader of the future Liberal Party and founder of the Globe and Mail newspaper. Covering the years between1856 and1864, John A. shows both men spurred into action by intense hatred towards one another and wildly different visions for Canada.
As the English in Upper Canada (Ontario) are pitted against the French in Lower Canada (Quebec), the country threatens to crumble under the watchful, covetous eyes of the United States, who fancy annexing Canada’s northern land. England, meanwhile, has no desire to fight for Canada. During this tumultuous time, two men – John A. Macdonald and George Brown – butt heads as they fight to control Canada’s future.
In a time when the news of labour “strife” is dominated by disputes between millionaire athletes and billionaire owners, history provides a useful perspective on a time when working people had to fight to work less than 12 hours a day. The “Nine-Hour Movement” began in Hamilton, Ontario, and then spread to Toronto where its demands were taken up by the Toronto Printer’s Union.