This is a big anniversary day for all my Liberal friends to celebrate, and I suspect they’ll be joined by folks of all parties in honouring the big day. It was, of course, on this date in 1963 that Lester B. Pearson and his Liberals defeated John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservatives, garnering 41% of the popular vote and 126 of the 265 seats, allowing the Liberals to form a minority government. The election paved the way for one of the most significant governments of the modern-era to begin its journey through history.
Mr. Pearson and his team ushered in historic reforms, changes and policies that are still relevant today. By the time he left office in 1968, Canada had a new flag, Medicare was the law of the land, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women had become a reality and Centennial Year and Expo a resounding success. And, the party was prepared by the 14th Prime Minister to meet the challenges of the future with the appointment of three future Prime Ministers, Jean Chretien, Pierre Trudeau and John Turner to the Pearson cabinet.
So, it is a great pleasure to mark the anniversary today of Mr. Pearson’s historic victory.
Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.