John Diefenbaker: The Last "Old Tory"

2277 words - 9 pages

John Diefenbaker was the last “old Tory” to be the Prime Minister of Canada. He was a member of the Conservative Party with deep values as well as being a British loyalist who supported the Queen. Diefenbaker was also a man that was well known for not supporting anything he thought was anti- British. This sentiment was most evident when Diefenbaker criticized the Liberal’s refusal to support Britain in the Suez Canal crisis and sided with the Americans. This loyalty the Diefenbaker had to the British Commonwealth would not serve him well as Prime Minister of Canada. In 1958, Diefenbaker would win the largest majority government in Canadian history upsetting the new leader of the Liberal Party, Lester B. Pearson, who had taken over for St. Laurent. In the election Diefenbaker would win 208 seats out of a possible 265 seats. The Liberal Party, led by Pearson would only be able to obtain 48 seats making them the Official Opposition. Five years after this historic win, John Diefenbaker would once again rewrite history by losing the largest number of seats in Canadian history. Historians who have written about Diefenbaker are confounded when they try to unravel the puzzling actions of Diefenbaker in his dealings with others concerning foreign and domestic policies. Many historians look at a few major mistakes that Diefenbaker committed during his term as Prime Minister from 1957 until 1963 which led to his collapse of power. The major events that led to the downfall of his government in 1963 included; the amount of spending and tax cut bills his government passed immediately after the election, the Avro Canada planes which Canada was building to become the leader in aeroplane technology, the Bomarc Missile Crisis in the 1960s in which the United States supplied Canada with two missile bases; and the volatile relationship Diefenbaker had with John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States of America, which made it difficult for Canada and the United States to work together on different policies. These major events, which John Diefenbaker did not deal with effectively, caused the Prime Minister to lose the biggest majority government in Canadian history in 1963.
In 1957, John Diefenbaker took the spot of the Official Opposition leader against the Liberal party who at the time was lead by St. Laurent. Diefenbaker did not support the new budget which was presented. This forced Parliament to dissolve in April of that year and have an election on June 10th. St. Laurent was extremely confident about winning the election as the Liberals had been in power since 1948. St. Laurent’s confidence was such that he did not even bother to make any recommendations to the Governor General to fill the 16 vacancies in the Senate before dissolving the government. During the election campaign Diefenbaker was portrayed to the country as a people’s person, who was honest with small town values. He was popular in the Prairie Provinces as he connected with the...

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