Jack Pickersgill

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Rt. Hon. John Whitney (Jack) Pickersgill (June 23, 1905 - November 14, 1997) was a Canadian civil servant and politician.

Pickersgill was born in Norfolk County, Ontario, and raised in Manitoba. He was educated at the University of Manitoba and University of Oxford, and taught history in Winnipeg.

He joined the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa, and was soon working at the Prime Minister's Office as Assistant Private Secretary to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. In 1945, he became Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, and was officially in charge of the Prime Minister's Office. He stayed on to work for King's successor, Louis St. Laurent, and became Clerk of the Privy Council in 1952. He was a senior and trusted adviser to both Prime Ministers: "Clear it with Jack" was the byword on Parliament Hill for years.

Pickersgill entered the Canadian House of Commons as Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Bonavista-Twillingsgate, Newfoundland as a result of the 1953 election. He entered the Canadian Cabinet as Secretary of State for Canada in 1953, and was named Minister for Citizenship and Immigration in 1954. When the Liberal government was defeated in the 1957 election, Pickersgill was re-elected as an MP, and became a leading tormentor of the new government of John George Diefenbaker from the opposition benches.

With the 1963 election and the coming to power of Lester Pearson as Prime Minister, Pickersgill returned to Cabinet, first as Secretary of State for Canada and Government House Leader, and then as Minister of Transport. In 1967, he retired from politics to become president of the Canadian Transport Commission.

In 1970, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was later bestowed the title "Right Honourable", usually reserved in Canada for Prime Ministers, Governors-General and Chief Justices, as recognition of his service.


Preceded by:
George James McIlraith
Minister of Transport
1964 - 1967
Succeeded by:
Paul Hellyer

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