Electoral history of Lester B. Pearson

Lester B. Pearson Yes Liberal Party of Canada

Lester Pearson in 1957, the year he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

This article is the Electoral history of Lester B. Pearson, the fourteenth Prime Minister of Canada.

A Liberal, he served one term as Prime Minister (1963–1968). He led the Liberal Party in four general elections, losing two (1958 and 1962) to John Diefenbaker, and winning two (1963 and 1965), defeating Diefenbaker both times. Both victories resulted in hung parliaments and he formed two minority governments. He retired in 1968 and was succeeded by Pierre Trudeau.

Pearson stood for election to the House of Commons of Canada eight times, all for the riding of Algoma East in northern Ontario. He was elected each time.

Summary

Canada had ten provinces and two territories throughout Pearson's time as Prime Minister.

Pearson ranks twelfth out of twenty-three prime ministers for time in office, serving one term of four years and 364 days.[1]

Pearson was the fifth of five prime ministers from Ontario, the others being Sir John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Before entering politics, Pearson was a career diplomat in the Department of External Affairs, including being the Canadian Ambassador to the United States.[2] Prime Minister Mackenzie King invited Pearson several times to join King's government, an invitation Pearson finally accepted in 1948, at the end of King's time in office. King appointed him Minister of External Affairs and Pearson entered Parliament shortly afterwards by a by-election in the northern Ontario riding of Algoma East.[2]

Pearson served in the government of Louis St. Laurent as Minister of External Affairs from 1948 to 1957.[2] Following the defeat of the Liberals in the 1957 general election, Pearson succeeded St. Laurent as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, becoming Leader of the Opposition in 1958. He was unsuccessful in the first two general elections he contested as leader (1958, 1962), with Diefenbaker continuing in office, but in the general election of 1963 he won a minority government, defeating Diefenbaker. Pearson was returned to office in the 1965 election, again defeating Diefenbaker, again with a minority government.

Pearson stood for election to the House of Commons eight times and was elected in all eight elections (1948 (by-election), 1949, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963 and 1965). Throughout his parliamentary career, he represented the riding of Algoma East in northern Ontario. He won each election by a majority of more than 50% of the votes, even in multi-candidate elections. He served in the Commons for 19 years, 7 months, and 30 days.[3]

In 1968, Pearson announced his retirement and was succeeded as Liberal leader and Prime Minister by Pierre Trudeau.[2]

Federal general elections: 1958 to 1965

Pearson led the Liberals in four general elections. He was defeated in the general elections of 1958 and 1962, but won minority governments in the elections of 1963 and 1965.

Federal election, 1958

After winning the Liberal leadership, Pearson challenged the legitimacy of Diefenbaker's minority government. In response, Diefenbaker called a snap election. He won the largest majority in Canadian history to that time and decimated the Liberals. In spite of the poor election results, Pearson stayed on as Liberal leader and Leader of the Opposition.

Canadian Federal Election, 1958 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
  Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker1 208 53.7%
Liberal Lester B. Pearson2 48 33.4%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Major James Coldwell 8 9.5%
Liberal–Labour 1 0.2%
Total 265 98.2%3
Sources: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Prime Minister when election was called; Prime Minister after election.
2 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Table does not include parties which received votes but did not elect any members.

Federal election, 1962

Pearson again led the Liberals in the 1962 election. Diefenbaker was returned to office, but with a minority government. The Liberals under Pearson made considerable gains, more than doubling their representation in the Commons.

Canadian Federal Election, 1962 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
  Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker1 116 37.2%
Liberal Lester B. Pearson2 99 37.0%
Social Credit Robert N. Thompson 30 11.6%
  New Democratic Party Tommy Douglas 19 13.6%
Liberal–Labour 1 0.2%
Total 265 99.6%3
Sources: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Prime Minister when election was called; Prime Minister after election.
2 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Table does not include parties which received votes but did not elect any members.

Federal election, 1963

Less than a year after the 1962 election, Diefenbaker's minority government fell on a motion of non-confidence, triggering the dissolution of Parliament and a general election. Pearson and the Liberals won the most seats, but fell five seats short of a majority. Pearson become prime minister of a minority government, and Diefenbaker became Leader of the Opposition.

Canadian Federal Election, 1963 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
Liberal Lester B. Pearson1 128 41.5%
  Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker2 95 32.8%
Social Credit Robert N. Thompson 24 11.9%
  New Democratic Party Tommy Douglas 17 13.2%
Liberal–Labour 1 0.2%
Total 265 99.6%3
Sources: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Prime Minister after election.
2 Prime Minister when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Table does not include parties which received votes but did not elect any members.

Federal election, 1965

After two years of minority government, Pearson called an election. The result was another hung parliament. The Liberals increased their seat total, but again fell short of an outright majority, this time by two seats. Pearson governed with a minority government for three years, retiring in 1968.

Canadian Federal Election, 1965 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
Liberal Lester B. Pearson1 131 40.2%
  Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker2 97 32.4%
  New Democratic Party Tommy Douglas 21 17.9%
  Ralliement créditiste Réal Caouette 9 4.7%
Social Credit Robert N. Thompson 5 3.7%
  Independent 1 0.7%
  Independent PC 1 0.2%
Total 265 99.8%3
Sources: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Federal constituency elections, 1948 to 1965

Pearson stood for election to the House of Commons eight times, starting with a by-election in 1948. He was elected all eight times, all from the northern Ontario riding of Algoma East.

1948 Federal By-Election: Algoma East

The 1948 by-election was triggered by the appointment of the incumbent Member of Parliament, Thomas Farquhar to the Senate on September 10, 1948.

Federal By-election, October 25, 1948: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes Lester B. Pearson 4,685 56.4%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Lorne D. Callaghan 2,382 28.7%
Social Credit John J. Fitzgerald 1,236 14.9%
Total 8,303 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.

1949 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1949: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 6,184 54.8%
  Progressive Conservative Grant H. Turner 2,908 25.7%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Federation George Thornton 2,202 19.5%
Total 11,294 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.

1953 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1953: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 7,494 65.9%
  Progressive Conservative George H. Bishop 3,877 34.1%
Total 11,371 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.

1957 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1957: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 8,574 52.0%
  Progressive Conservative H. Merton Mulligan 5,757 34.9%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Martin S. Reid 2,156 13.1%
Total 16,487 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.

1958 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1958: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 11,240 51.7%
  Progressive Conservative Basil Scully 8,208 37.7%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Walter James Corbett 2,309 10.6%
Total 21,757 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.

1962 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1962: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 11,934 57.6%
  Progressive Conservative Alex Berthelot 5,631 27.2%
  New Democratic Party Cam Cork 3,168 15.3%
Total 20,733 100.1%1
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.
1 Rounding error.

1963 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1963: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 10,817 52.2%
  Progressive Conservative Paul Jewell 6,146 29.6%
Social Credit Irénée John Quenneville 2,016 9.7%
  New Democratic Party Bennett Donahue 1,751 8.4%
Total 20,730 99.9%1
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.
1 Rounding error.

1965 Federal Election: Algoma East

Federal Election, 1965: Algoma East, Ontario
Party Candidate Popular Vote %
Liberal Yes X Lester B. Pearson 9,268 54.2%
  Progressive Conservative Joel W. Aldred 5,793 33.8%
  New Democratic Party Walter Stuart 2,053 12.0%
Total 17,114 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867: Algoma East

Yes Elected.
X Incumbent.

Liberal Party leadership convention, 1958

Pearson entered the convention as the favourite, with the support of many of the party establishment. Paul Martin Sr., the only other serious candidate, hoped to attract the rank and file of the party. Pearson won on the first ballot.

Liberal Leadership Convention, January 16, 1958
Voting results by ballot
Candidate First Ballot
Votes cast %
Lester B. Pearson 1957.jpg Lester B. Pearson 1074 77.8%
Paul Martin Sr. 305 22.1%
Harold Lloyd Henderson 1 0.1%
Total 1,380 100.0%
Source: CPAC – 1958 Liberal Convention

See also

References

  1. ^ "PARLINFO: Prime Ministers of Canada". Archived from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dictionary of Canadian Biography: "Pearson, Lester Bowles"". Archived from the original on January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  3. ^ PARLINFO: The Right Hon. Lester Bowles Pearson, P.C., C.C., O.M., O.B.E.[permanent dead link]