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Prime Minister John Diefenbaker

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John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada

John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada

Gar Lunney / Library and Archives Canada / C-006779

About John Diefenbaker:

An entertaining and theatrical speaker, John Diefenbaker was a Canadian populist who combined Conservative politics with social justice issues. Of neither French nor English ancestry, John Diefenbaker worked hard to include Canadians of other ethnic backgrounds. Diefenbaker gave Western Canada a high profile, but Quebeckers considered him unsympathetic.

John Diefenbaker had mixed success on the international front. Diefenbaker championed international human rights, but his confused defence policy and economic nationalism caused tension with the United States.

Prime Minister of Canada:

1957-63

Highlights as Prime Minister:

Highlights of the John Diefenbaker years as Prime Minister of Canada include:

  • appointed Ellen Fairclough the first Canadian woman federal cabinet minister 1957

  • Canadian Bill of Rights 1960

  • vote extended to native peoples in Canada 1960

  • Royal Commission on Health Services 1961

  • Agriculture Rehabilitation and Development Act 1961

  • found market in China for prairie wheat

  • created National Productivity Council 1963

  • expanded old age pensions

  • introduced simultaneous translation in House of Commons

Birth and Death:

  • Born September 18, 1895 in Neustadt, Ontario. John Diefenbaker moved with his family to Fort Carlton, NWT in 1903 and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1910.

  • Died August 16, 1979 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Education:

BA, MA, LL.B - University of Saskatchewan

Professional Career:

  • Criminal lawyer
  • Lieutenant, 105th Saskatoon Fusiliers 1916-17

Political Party:

Progressive Conservative

Ridings (Electoral Districts):

  • Lake Centre 1940-53
  • Prince Albert 1953-79

Political Career of John Diefenbaker:

  • John Diefenbaker was elected Leader of the Saskatchewan Conservative Party in 1936, but the party did not win any seats in the 1938 provincial election.

  • John Diefenbaker was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1940.

  • John Diefenbaker was elected Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 1956, and was Leader of the Opposition from 1956 to 1957.

  • The Conservatives won a minority government in the 1957 general election, defeating Louis St. Laurent and the Liberals.

  • John Diefenbaker was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada in 1957.

  • In the 1958 general election, the Conservatives won a majority government.

  • The Conservatives were back to a minority government in the 1962 general election.

  • The Conservatives lost the 1963 election and John Diefenbaker became Leader of the Opposition. Lester Pearson became Prime Minister.

  • John Diefenbaker was replaced as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada by Robert Stanfield in 1967.

  • John Diefenbaker remained a member of parliament until three months before his death in 1979.

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