Archive for March, 2010

1958 — Canada’s 24th federal election has transformed John Diefenbaker‘s government from one in minority into one with the largest majority in Canadian history. His Progressive Conservative’s now hold 78% of the seats in the Commons.

It’s a humiliating debut for the new Liberal leader, Lester Pearson. Diefenbaker is the first Conservative since Sir Robert Borden to crack the Liberal stronghold of Quebec. His success is partly due to the retirement of Liberal leader Louis St. Laurent.


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1874Wilfrid Laurier, the newly elected MP for Drummond-Arthabaska, takes his seat in House of Commons for the first time. Because the Liberals are in power under Alexander Mackenzie, Laurier gets to sit on the government benches.

As he listens to proceedings in the Commons, he is unaware that a another new MP, Louis Riel, slips into the Parliament Buildings to quietly sign the register as the Independent Member for Provencher, Manitoba. Riel, branded an outlaw for his leading role in provisional government of the Métis in Red River, is gone again before anyone is aware of his clandestine visit.

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1873 — The Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) force is organized by the government of Sir John A. Macdonald to bring law and order to the Northwest Territory.

At first it was to be called the Northwest Mounted Rifles, but Macdonald feared the name was too militaristic to sit comfortably with the native population. So, he had the name switched to ‘Police’ and called for red uniforms to emphasize the force’s Britishness.

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1911 — For the second time in a year, Conservative leader Robert Borden is forced to repulse an attempt by senior party members to remove him from the leadership.

Led by Frederick Monk, the dissidents are appalled with Borden’s alignment with Clifford Sifton and other anti-free-trade Liberals opposed to Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier‘s initiative. Borden threatens to resign, prompting 65 members of caucus to sign a petition in his support. Twenty refuse to sign.

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1864 — Archibald Macdonnell, the Kingston law partner of John A. Macdonald for the past decade, dies following a long illness. Macdonald had left most of the day-to-day operation of the firm to Macdonnell and now discovers his law firm is seriously in debt.

It turns out Macdonald won’t have too much time to dwell on the crisis. Three days later he will once again become Attorney-General for Canada West in the coalition government of Sir Étienne Taché.

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1940 — The Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King wins Canada’s 19th federal election with the largest majority since Confederation. Increased support for the party is partly the result of Canadians seeking experience as the country enters the early days of the Second World War

Among newly elected ‘National Government’ (Conservative) MPs is Saskatchewan populist lawyer John Diefenbaker. He defeats Liberal Deputy Speaker of the House Fred Johnson in Lake Centre, It’s his third attempt to win a federal seat, having lost to Liberals Charles MacDonald in 1925 and Mackenzie King in 1926.

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1957Louis St. Laurent‘s fondness for Bermuda isn”t restricted to vacations. He is currently there for talks with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to discuss the Common Market, the Middle East and other issues..

With St. Laurent is his Exeternal Affairs minister, Lester Pearson, who last year helped resolve the Suez Crisis using United Nations peacekeepers.

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