Lester B Pearson

Canada’s 14th Prime Minister
April 1963 – April 1968
participated in...
◦ Washington Naval Conference (1930)
◦ Geneva World Disarmament Conference (1933-1934)
◦ London Naval Conference (1935)
involved in negotiations leading to formation of UN
 Canada’s ambassador
in UN
 leader of Liberal party
 Essential leader in
creating Canada’s image
as a trusted ally,
humanitarian and
peacekeeping nation
Created Canadian Flag
1949 – North Atlantic Treaty Organization is established.
1951-52 – Serves as chairman of NATO Council.
1952 – Elected president of Seventh Session, UN General
1956 – Examines NATO. Introduces the critical peacekeeping
resolution for the Suez Crisis.
1957 – Wins Nobel Peace Prize.
1958 – Elected Leader of Liberal Party
1962 – Proposes bilingualism commission. Liberals win 99 seats
in election.
1963 – Elected April 8 with a minority government.
1964 – Canada Pension Plan negotiated.
1965 – Liberals are re-elected and the Maple Leaf Flag is created.
1966 – Medicare
1968 – Retires in April. (In power for 5 years.)
Canada’s most successful & respected
Foreign diplomat
Instrumental in creating Canada’s image as a
trusted ally/ humanitarian/ peacekeeping
Domestic plans significantly influenced by
early career as a diplomat and soldier
Internationalism and domestic policy as
Outward-looking nation and ended
provincial rivalries
Defined Canadian culture
• “universality”
• improve the relations between the
United States and Canada
• all citizens promised equal access
to education, welfare & healthcare
•government intervention to
improve lives of average Canadian
•end provincial rivalries (Quebec V.S citizens
Canada); that defined national
political culture
Cut military spending and put
money towards social
Canada Student Loan Program (1964)
Provided loans to students registered in university/
technical schools
Government acted as guarantor of the loans
Canada Pension Plan (1965) (updated)
Improved existing old-age pension plan
Permitted provinces to establish own plans with federal
Many companies did not have pensions for workers
therefore the companies expanded and extended pension
plan to majority
Medical Care Act (1966)
Universal healthcare
Allowed federal government to provide more funding to
poorer provinces
There were protests due to the cost of universal health
care however it was popular among the citizens
Canada’s racially-open immigration policy
European immigration decreased
Canadian government encouraged immigration from India
and Hong Kong
Introduced points-based system which further encouraged
immigration (systems similarly still used today)
Wanted to develop an
economic and military
relationship with the US
Soviet takeover in Europe affected the world
◦ Canadian – European economic ties destroyed (Britain =
Pearson pursued 3 major changes to reassure
the economy:
1. Strengthen UN by preventing its involvement in
International Crises (Palestine, Korea)
2. Auto Pact with the economically strong US
3. Socio-economically inspired pact to balance US power 
Canada-US Automotive Agreement
Free trade agreement of automobiles, tires, auto parts across
Impacted Canada greatly, as it gave more job opportunities
and established payment equity
Main Purposes:
◦ Reduce duplication  reduce production cost
◦ Reduce cost  increase consumption
◦ Car prices dropped  consumption increased
◦ 1965: 70 000 workers  1978: 125 000 workers
◦ Ontario, closely located to the US, benefitted from transportation
routes and accessibility to production centres
◦ It essentially allowed the Liberals to gain domestic support
Military spending in the 1950s and mid 1960s
were large because:
◦ 25 000 fought in Korean War
◦ 120 000 in the military
◦ 10 000 stationed permanently in Europe due to NATO
Glassco Commission in 1963 reports that
military spending was wasteful  Pearson
reduces military to 20 000 under the Minister
of Defence
This would provide more from the budget
towards social programs
United Nations
Department of External Affairs
Nobel Peace Prize
Suez Crisis
Middle Power
Pearson’s legacy continues for
his outstanding contributions
and development to Canada’s
foreign policy
Food and Agriculture Organization
International Monetary Fund
World Health Organization
Palestine, 1947
UK had mandate over Palestine:1947  end mandate
UNGA’s Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)
Resolution:divide the territory but still allow freedom of transport
and economic ties:
◦ Arab state
◦ Jewish state
◦ Jerusalem
Arabs opposition
 Pearson strived for a clearly defined
implementation of the partition
◦ Four nations worked carefully on the
partition plan which was finalized on
Nov. 29, 1947
Medallion of Valour for creating Israel
◦ Responsible throughout for resolving conflict between
North and South Korea that the US was involved in
◦ UN was to provide immediate military to repel invasion
◦ Highlights the effectiveness of collective action against
aggression  strengthening UN’s role
“Nothing before or after was as momentous for him. In
his long, eventful public life, Suez was his signature.” –
Historian Andrew Cohen
Crisis followed the creation of Israel and Arab neighbours
 Gamal Abdel Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal Company on
July 26, 1956
 October 29, 1956, Israelis
attacked Egypt with the help
from Britain and France
 Canada was asked to support in this attack, which angered
Pearson immensely as he
thought it was:
◦ “immoral”
◦ “impractical”
◦ “incendiary”
Britain and France vetoed US request for ceasefire and
withdrawal of troops in the UN
At the UNGA where the resolution of ceasefire was being
discussed, Pearson expressed that it was:
“A moderate proposal couched in reasonable and objective
terms, without unfair or unbalanced condemnation" but “It
does not provide for any steps to be taken by the United
Nations for a peace settlement, without which a cease-fire
will be of only temporary value at best... What then, six
months from now? Are we to go through all this again?”
UN Emergency Force  cease-fire must be monitored
and prepared to lead to political settlement
Pearson’s Resolution: Passed 57 – 0 with 19 absent
◦ Separated combatants  end violence
◦ UK and France could withdraw without being forced to by the
Nobel Peace Prize, 1957
◦ Suez Crisis
Geoffrey Pearson wrote, “Success in diplomacy, like success in
other fields of public policy, depends on a combination of
three main factors -- timing, experience, and personality.”
Pearson’s New World Order
Served with Canadian Army Medical Corps
Watched the deterioration of the League of Nations after
World War 1
Canada’s role
- 120 000 CDN forces in Korean War (commitment in
- Prior to being PM; held high-ranking position in foreign
affairs e.g. Chair of Canada’s NATO delegation
Canada as
Middle Power
- two superpowers left little room for Canada to
voice opinions in international affairs, relations and
- Canada caught in America's orbit (did whatever
the Americans did)
- wanted Canada to be "an independent force of
peacekeeping and goodwill"
- his sending of UN Emergency Force to Suez won
him the Nobel Peace Prize & established Canada's
independent role on the world stage
Canada’s role in
the World Bank
- Canada participated in the 1944 Bretton Woods
conference that led to the creation of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund and
formally joined both organizations in 1945.
-target: poverty reduction in the developing
-expands Canada's impact on poverty reduction
and sustainable development worldwide
-wanted to close the gap between the rich and
poor in other nations
- “Partners in Development”
World Bank
“I accepted because I believe no problem to be more important to the
future of the world.”
1928 – 1948
 Scored highest and appointed first secretary
 Successful – easy-going, friendly, earned respect
and trust
 Minister of External Affairs
 1948 – 1957
 Met with UN
 Created the first United Nations
Peace-Keeping Force
 Made of Canadian troops
◦ ended Suez crisis
Set up after WW2 for a better world
Pearson there from the start and started
working on it in 1942
Canadian representative
Est’d in 1943 & became Chairman of
Subcommittee for Displaced Persons
Deeply interested in future of nuclear energy
Canada supplied uranium and laboratory
research to USA and UK
Very involved in Combined Policy Committee
Oversaw the working of bi-lateral agreement
collaboration in use of of nuclear energy
(nuclear info exchange, int’l control, technical
Atomic Bomb Conference, Washington, Nov.
12-15, 1945
ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council)
ICAO (International Civil Agency)
FAO (Food Agriculture Organization)
WHO (World Health Organization)
IMF (International Monetary Funds)
The Ottawa Citizen Newspaper (November 7, 1984)
 “Middle Power”
(Spicer, Keith. A return to Pearsonian Diplomacy. The Ottawa Citizen.
7, November 1984.)
Comment by Mackenzie King (PM from 1935
- 1948)
“He [Pearson] likes keeping Canada at
the head of everything, in the
forefront in connection with UN
(Lester B. Pearson by Andrew Cohen)
Autobiography of Lester B. Pearson
"From the Korean experience we have, I hope, learned
(Mike: The Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson, Volume 2, 1948-1957)
some lessons. One is that collective action against
aggression can work, even when that action is
incomplete, in organization, support and
participation. Korea has been a vindication of the
principle of collective action, but even more, it has
shown what could be done if all members of the
United Nations were willing, collectively, to pay the
price to make such action effective."
Historiography: Pearsonian Diplomacy
“Pearsonian Diplomacy has come to mean a modus
operandi. Pearson had a capacity for cooling off a
situation, as he tried to do in Korea. He also had an
instinct for creating a middle way, as he did with
India and the Commonwealth in 1949, another one of
those intractable conflicts... In Kashmir in 1950,
though, he knew to stay away; the issue was
insoluble, and he has no appetite for lost causes. In
Hungary, in 1956, he knew not to try to replicate his
success at Suez, because that would be considered
overreaching for a country of Canada’s size. As Denis
Stairs points out, Pearson knew the limits. You could
have influence, on a good day, but you shouldn’t
expect it everyday.”
(Lester B. Pearson by Andrew Cohen)
Foreign Policy Effectively Contributed to Domestic
Gave Canada more recognition in pursuing National
Strong role with the UN  Canada becoming a Middle
Suez crisis helped strengthen the foundation of our
domestic policy through Internationnal involvement
(economically, socially, politically)
Foreign Policy Ineffectively Contributed to Domestic
- Criticize that he may be neglecting domestic affairs