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Lester Bowles Pearson

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The Right Honourable Lester Bowles Pearson
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Rank: 14th
Predecessor: John Diefenbaker
Successor: Pierre Trudeau
Date of Birth: April 23, 1897
Place of Birth: Newtonbrook, Ontario
Spouse: Maryon Moody
Profession: Diplomat, Politician
Political Party: Liberal

The Right Honourable Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, CC, OM, MA (April 23, 1897December 27, 1972) was the fourteenth Prime Minister of Canada from April 22, 1963, to April 20, 1968, and also a 1957 Nobel Laureate.

He was born in Newtonbrook, Ontario (now part of Toronto), the son of a Methodist preacher. He entered Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1914, where he lived in residence in Gate House and shared a room with his brother Duke. While at the university, he became a noted athlete, excelling at both hockey and rugby. His studies were interrupted, however, when in 1916 he decided to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force and fight in the First World War.

After the war, he returned to school, receiving his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1919. He studied at Oxford University, where he received a B.A. in modern history in 1923 and an M.A. in 1925. In 1925, he married Maryon Moody (1902-1991), with whom he had one daughter, Patricia, and one son, Geoffrey.

Contents

Early career

After Oxford, he returned to Canada and taught history at the University of Toronto. He then embarked on a career in the Department of External Affairs. He had a distinguished career as a diplomat, and, during World War II, he once served as a courier with the codename "Mike". He was appointed foreign minister in the government of Liberal Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent in 1948. Pearson ran for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons shortly afterward. In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in defusing the Suez Crisis through the United Nations. The United Nations Peacekeeping Force was Pearson's creation, and he is considered the father of the modern concept of peacekeeping.

Party leadership

He was elected leader of the Liberal Party at its 1958 leadership convention, but his party was badly routed in the election of that year. In the 1962 election, his party reduced the Progressive Conservative Party of John George Diefenbaker to a minority government.

Prime minister

Pearson led the Liberals to a minority government in the 1963 general election, and became prime minister. He had campaigned during the election promising "60 Days of Decision" and support for the Bomarc missile program.

Pearson never had a majority in the Canadian House of Commons, but he introduced important social programs (including universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans), the Maple Leaf Flag, and new initiatives in French-English relations. Pearson's government instituted much of the modern welfare state in Canada, due in part to support for his minority government in the House of Commons] from the New Democratic Party, led by Tommy Douglas.

The Pearson cabinet contained many young men who would go on to become prominent figures in the Liberal Party. In particular, cabinet ministers Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, and Jean Chrétien served as prime minister in the years following Pearson's retirement.

Pearson also oversaw Canada's 1967 centennial celebrations before retiring. The Canadian news agency, Canadian Press, named him "Newsmaker of the Year" in 1967, citing his leadership during the centennial celebrations.

While in office, Pearson resisted U.S. pressure to enter the Vietnam War. Pearson spoke at Temple University in Philadelphia on April 2, 1965, while visiting the United States, and voiced his support for a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam War. When he visited U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson hours later, Johnson strongly berated Pearson. According to Canadian legend, Johnson grabbed Pearson by the lapels, shook him, and shouted "You pissed on my rug!" Pearson later recounted that the meeting was acrimonious, but insisted the two parted cordially. After this incident, LBJ and Pearson did have two further official meetings together, both times in Canada. [1] (http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/holdings/Findingaids/WHCF/COLIST.asp)

Retirement

After retiring from politics, Pearson became a professor of international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa, as well as the school's chancellor. In 1968, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 1971, he was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II.

Pearson died of cancer in Ottawa on December 27, 1972, and was buried in the nearby Gatineau Hills in the MacLaren Cemetery, Wakefield, Quebec.

Honours and awards

Besides the Nobel Peace Prize, Pearson has been the recipient of numerous national and international accolades.

In 1984, Pearson's successor, Pierre Trudeau, renamed Canada's busiest airport in Toronto. The full name of the airport is now Toronto Pearson International Airport. YYZ is Toronto Pearson’s Aerodrome Location Indicator.

Pearson is also the namesake of the Lester B. Pearson College in Victoria, British Columbia (one of the United World Colleges), and of the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Montreal.

The Lester B. Pearson Award is presented annually to the most valuable NHL player as judged by his peers. Pearson's favourite sport was baseball and the Pearson Cup, named after him, was awarded to the winner of an annual contest between the Toronto Blue Jays and the former Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals).

The Canadian news agency, Canadian Press, chose Lester Pearson its "Newsmaker of the Year" nine times, a record he held until Pierre Trudeau broke it in 2000. He and Brian Mulroney are the only prime ministers to have received this award both before becoming prime minister and while prime minister.

In 2004, he was voted #6 of the "Greatest Canadians".

The Lester B. Pearson Building is the headquarters for Foreign Affairs Canada, a tribute to his service as external affairs minister.

See also

External links


Preceded by:
John Diefenbaker
Prime Minister of Canada
1963-1968
Succeeded by:
Pierre Trudeau
Preceded by:
Louis St. Laurent
Liberal Leaders
Succeeded by:
Pierre Trudeau
Preceded by:
Thomas Farquhar, Liberal
Member of Parliament for Algoma East
1948-1968
Succeeded by:
federal riding abolished in 1966
Preceded by:
Louis St. Laurent
Secretary of State for External Affairs (Canada)
1948-1957
Succeeded by:
John Diefenbaker

Template:End box Template:CanPMde:Lester Pearson fr:Lester Bowles Pearson pl:Lester Pearson pt:Lester Bowles Pearson

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