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Postwar Prosperity, Diefenbaker and Pearson

John Diefenbaker, election contest, red maple leaf, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party

After running the national government continuously since 1935, the Liberal Party was defeated by the Progressive Conservatives (the new name for the Conservatives) in 1957. The new prime minister, John Diefenbaker, was a crusading country lawyer from Saskatchewan who built his campaign on growing resentment over the long dominance of the Liberal Party and the arrogant Canadian establishment. He also urged economic development of the far northern regions. An orator and a fighter for social justice and the ordinary citizen, Diefenbaker appealed to Canadian national pride. His disorganized administration, however, alienated potential allies and faced frequent crises. His government fell in a 1963 election contest with the Liberals under Pearson. The chief issues were Canadaís role in NATO and Diefenbakerís opposition to the building of nuclear weapons bases in Canada.

Pearsonís achievements as prime minister included new and expanded social programs and a new, distinctive Canadian flag, the red maple leaf. Pearsonís Liberals never had a majority in the House of Commons but survived because opposition was divided. Among the new opposition parties was the New Democratic Party (NDP), formed in 1961 by a merger of the socialist CCF and Canadian labor organizations. The NDP campaigned for public ownership of key industries, wider social programs to promote economic equality, and controls on foreign (particularly American) investment. First led by former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas, the NDP became a long-lasting third party competing with the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.

Article key phrases:

John Diefenbaker, election contest, red maple leaf, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party, economic equality, new prime minister, Liberal Party, orator, NATO, northern regions, House of Commons, Pearson, national government, merger, social justice, NDP, fighter, prime minister, Saskatchewan, Liberals, campaign, majority, economic development, controls, investment


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