On 10 June 1957, confident that his Liberal government would be re-elected, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent called a federal election.  St. Laurent possessed strong personal popularity and an experienced Cabinet, and many recognizing that electoral success depended upon expanding party appeal beyond traditional supporters, Tory strategists crafted the campaign around John Diefenbaker, running under the slogan “It’s Time for a Diefenbaker Government.”  This proved highly effective.  With his erect carriage, piercing blue eyes, tremendous energy, and a spellbinding, evangelical speaking style, John Diefenbaker made an immediate impact on the campaign trail. Diefenbaker energized Canadians with promises that his Government would respect Parliamentary practice, initiate a national development program, expand social justice programs, and strengthen Canadians’ human rights.  Critically important was the Progressive Conservatives’ ground campaign, which won the backing of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Premiers and their political machines.  Most importantly, the Diefenbaker government was able to secure the support of Ontario Premier Leslie Frost – important due to the many available seats in the House of Commons in Ontario.   Canadians viewed the Liberals as successful stewards of Canada’s post-war economic boom. Convinced that the Liberals, having been in power since 1935, had become arrogant, complacent, and stingy in a time of national prosperity, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, with newly-elected leader John G. Diefenbaker, was confident that they could make electoral inroads.

feature-pic-1-1  John and Olive Diefenbaker beside a campaign train

On Election Day, the Conservatives scored a historic upset, winning 112 seats to 105 for the Liberals, 25 for the CCF Party, 19 for the Social Credit Party and 4 Independents. 

The Diefenbaker Government shepherded a flurry of progressive legislation through Parliament which increased funding to social assistance, pensions, and hospital insurance. Other legislation introduced by the Diefenbaker Government provided cash advances to farmers for stored grain and tax cuts for low-income Canadians. 

 John Diefenbaker speaking during election campaign  John Diefenbaker chatting with a farmer

Diefenbaker waited for an opportunity to call an election in order to achieve a majority Government.  It came on 20 January 1958, when newly-elected Liberal Leader Lester B. Pearson rose in the House of Commons to make an amendment to a supply motion.  Declaring the Progressive Conservative Government had lost the confidence of Canadians, Pearson called on them to resign and hand power back to the Liberals.  Diefenbaker responded with a blistering attack on this Liberal attempt to regain power and, on 1 February 1958, the Governor General acceded to Mr. Diefenbaker’s request for the dissolution of Parliament.  

Diefenbaker’s campaign theme was national development.  Northern development, or, “The Vision” as Diefenbaker described it, involved significant federal investment in infrastructure to permit the development of northern resources while the ideals of “One Canada” would ensure that Canadians from all regions of Canada would share in the national prosperity.  

 John Diefenbaker speaking from an election train John Diefenbaker with Leslie Frost

The 1958 election campaign was unique in Canadian history.  Captivated by Diefenbaker’s vision and enraptured by his oratory, thousands of Canadians flocked to his rallies.  His speeches were constantly interrupted by cheers and, at many stops along the way, Canadians would reach out simply to touch Mr. Diefenbaker.  The excitement generated by the campaign manifested itself on Election Day on 31 March 1958, when Canadian voters gave the Diefenbaker Conservatives 208 of 265 seats in the House of Commons, with 53.7% of the popular vote, including 50 of 75 seats in Quebec.  Although Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives won more seats in an expanded House of Commons in the 1984 federal election, as a percentage of the total seats in the House of Commons, Diefenbaker’s 1958 victory remains the largest in Canadian history.

sidepanel-7  John Diefenbaker campaigning in Quebec City

Related Documents

12 Good Reasons for Voting Conservative

  1. The CONSERVATIVE Party, led by John Diefenbaker, the first veteran to become Prime Minister of Canada, wants your vote to give it a majority of the Service as well as the Civilian Votes. Its appeal in this election is for a United Canada in which there will be equality of opportunity, and fair treatment of all Canadians.
  2. JOHN DIEFENBAKER has carried out his election pledges to a degree unmatched in Canadian history. He deserves a chance to carry on and complete his program.
  3. JOHN DIEFENBAKER has made an impressive start on a long-term policy of National Development to increase the prosperity and welfare of all Canadians. He needs your mandate to finish the job.
  4. JOHN DIEFENBAKER needs a working majority in Parliament to give Canada stable and effective administration of the nation's business.
  5. JOHN DIEFENBAKER believes that our national security requirements and obligations to NATO and the United Nations demand the maintenance of strong and well-equipped armed forces. Canada's forces to-day are stronger than ever before in peace-time.

    Dec. 1956    Dec. 1957
    Navy ..... 19,005 19,805
    Army ........ 47,632 47,938
    Air Force . 50,540 51,661
  6. JOHN DIEFENBAKER is interested in the individual welfare of servicemen, veterans, and their families. His government moved swiftly to increase the pay of all ranks and also to increase and extend War Veterans Allowance Benefits and Disability Pension Benefits. Reductions in Income Tax Rates and Increased Tax Exemptions for Children will also benefit all servicemen and veterans directly, particularly those with young families and in the lower pay groups.
  7. The CONSERVATIVE Party is the "One Canada" Party. It has attracted the support of men and women of all walks of life, all ages, and all racial and religious backgrounds.
  8. The CONSERVATIVE Party is the "All Canada" Party. It is the only Party with Members elected from every Province. It is the only Party with support from every part of Canada:

      Conservative Liberal
    Western Provinces 22  9
    Ontario 61 21
    Quebec 9 64
    Atlantic Provinces 21 12
  9. The CONSERVATIVE Party is the Party of Youth. More than a third of its M.P.'s are under 40 including several Cabinet Ministers. Young men and women are in prominent positions throughout the Party organization.
  10. The CONSERVATIVE Party is the Party of Veterans. 14 of 22 Cabinet Ministers, and 67 of 113 M.P.'s have served in Canada's Armed Forces during one or both World Wars. Hon. George Pearkes, VC, Minister of National Defence is an internationally respected soldier and statesman. His Parliamentary Assistant, Marcel Lambert fought at Dieppe. Mon. Alfred Brooks, Minister of Veterans Affairs is a veteran of both wars. His Parliamentary Assistant is Walter Dinsdale, DFC.
  11. JOHN DIEFENBAKER'S dynamic policies and leadership have the overwhelming support of the average man and woman in Canada. Recent Gallup Poll figures show the extent to which his leadership in national affairs is approved in every port of Canada:

      Approve Disapprove.*
    Western Provinces 68 7
    Ontario 66 9
    Quebec 44 15
    Atlantic Provinces 61 13
    ALL CANADA 60 10
    * Others have "No Opinion"
  12. YOUR PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE is the personal representative of JOHN DIEFENBAKER and the CONSERVATIVE PARTY in this election. He seeks and needs your support in this election. A vote for him is a vote for stable government with positive policies to meet the exciting challenge of Canada's future development.


Speech No. 1
JOHN DIEFENBAKER – Massey Hall, TORONTO, April 25, 1957.

To me it is a most inspiring experience to face an audience such as this. My fellow Canadians, at the commencement of this national campaign you have come here to hear discussed the issues of the day. You have come here to have us lay before you a policy, a Canadian policy, to provide for an equality of rights everywhere in Canada and in every province in Canada.

I have no apologies for beginning this campaign in the City of Toronto, where, as you have said, Mr. Prime Minister, as a boy I lived in East York, My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather were born in this Province.

I have here on this platform with me men and women who will, in the days ahead, represent their respective constituencies in the House of Commons. Many of the outstanding Members in that House have been from the Province of Ontario. Over the years I have wondered why it was that Toronto was not represented in the Cabinet of Canada. You, Mr. Metro Mayor, stated a moment ago that it had no representation. I bring you up to the moment. It has tonight because of the fact that Mr. St. Laurent knew that this gathering was going to take place in the City of Toronto. Well, last minute repentances do not pay dividends in public affairs.

- 2 -

I want to make one reference to what you said, Mr. Prime Minister, in reference to the women. We have outstanding women representatives in Parliament in this Party. You mentioned the contribution that they have made through the opportunity provided by this Party. In this audience, there are a vast number of women this evening, women of this nation representing over 51% of the voting power. Nationally, Canada is behind every other democratic nation in the world in that regard, in having no woman representative in the Cabinet. When we form a government, the women of Canada will be represented in the Cabinet.

Another feature of the representation of candidates on this platform is the number of men of various racial origins, who give answer to those of the Liberal Party, who, over the years, have contended that we in this Party are not regardful of those who come from other countries. There are no second-class babies in Canada, in the Pickersgill tradition, insofar as this Party is concerned.

Before speaking seriously on other things, may I say this – that when I listened to the story that you told this evening, Mr. Chairman, regarding some of the vicissitudes of campaigning, and you spoke of the fact that the Prime Minister was never final in his decision as to the doubtfulness of a voter, I should tell you of an experience that is recorded of me in 1940.

In the dying days of a campaign in a small town in Saskatchewan, it was suggested that I should call on Mrs. "X" and she might support me. I did -- she said she would- - and as I was leaving I turned to her and said, "And I hope your husband will support me, too.” She said --"Support you! He [. . .]

[Handwritten notes from Diefenbaker in square brackets; underlining in the original]


hasn't supported me for the last seven years.”

I am now going to deal for a short time this evening with some of the responsibilities of this Party as I see them today. I shall not endeavour to cover all, but only a portion of the Program, that we intend to place before the Canadian people, I shall not cover the area that was so well covered by the Prime Minister. To him and to Mr. Metro Mayor go my thanks and appreciation for the welcome extended to us. I am of those who believe that this Party has a sacred trust, a trust in accordance with the traditions of Macdonald. It has an appointment today with destiny, to plan and to build for a greater Canada. It has a sacred trust handed down to us in the tradition of Macdonald to bring about that Canada which is founded on a spirit of brotherhood, vision and faith, one Canada, with equality of opportunity for every citizen and equality for every province from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

What I intend to do this evening is to bring before you a few salient principles--principles that will guide us in the days ahead – principles upon which we will stand, and whereby we will endeavour to place before the Canadian people, not a policy of criticism alone, but one based on the needs of the present, the building of one Canada.

[I] We believe there can be no national unity in this nation until there is a realization that Federal-Provincial matters have handcuffed the provinces of this nation, havedenied municipalities adequate sources of revenue, have placed provinces and municipalities in the position where they cannot discharge their constitutional responsibility or promote the necessary develop [. . .]


[development] within their own territorial confines of the Natural Resources which we possess. We believe that the Provinces and the Municipalities must have the financial resources to carry out those responsibilities. We believe in the Federal system of government. We believe its preservation is essential to Canadian unity. We believe that the Federal system is today being challenged by the centralization complex of the St. Laurent Government,  and that a healthy division and balance of revenues, as between the Federal and Provincial Governments, must be assured.

Instead of going into detail, I will say this, and elaborate on another occasion, that we intend, on forming a government, immediately to convene a Dominion-Provincial Conference to bring about a settlement of these problems, not in a spirit of arrogant domination, as displayed by the present government, but in a spirit of unity and amity, with mutual tolerance and respect. [2] In order to assure the economic development of this country, we intend to launch a National Policy of development in the Northern areas which may be called the New Frontier Policy.Macdonald was concerned with opening the West. We are concerned with developments in the Provinces with provincial cooperation, and in our Northern Frontier in particular. The North, with all its vast resources of hidden wealth, the wonder and the challenge of the North must become our national consciousness. All that is needed, as I see it today, is an imaginative
policy that will open its doors to Canadian initiative and enterprise. We [. . .]


believe in a positive National Policy of development, in contrast with the negative and haphazard one of today. We believe that the welfare of Canada demands the adoption of such a policy, which will develop our Natural Resources for the maximum benefit of all parts of Canada, -- a policy which will encourage more processing of Canada’s raw materials in Canada, and will foster a greater financial participation by Canadians. In short, we believe that Canadians must recognize that Canada’s economic policy shall ensure and preserve for the people of Canada, and for future generations of Canada, the control of our economic destiny. That we believe.

A reading of the pages of history shows that the loss of a nation’s economic destiny may lead to the same fate politically. Without going into more detail, we renounce the doctrine that was enunciated in the House of Commons a few years ago regarding the St. Lawrence Waterway project which we accepted and supported. A Minister appointed today, (Mr. Chevrier), speaking then, said that one of the great advantages of the St. Lawrence Waterway would be that it would make possible conveyance of iron-ore from Canada to the great iron mills of the United States, which were all within a few miles’ reach of the Great Lakes. That, to us, is a Canada Last Policy. That is a policy which not only permits but which advocates that our irreplaceable resources should be processed to a major extent outside of Canada.

I hope this evening to quote in some detail from a recent editorial in the Financial Post regarding Foreign Investment, showing that foreign investment in Canada now amounts to 65% of the national income, whereas the highest percentage touched by the United States at any time, as she was [. . .]


dependent on investment, was 15%. In common with all Canadians, and I underline what I am about to say, we welcome Foreign Investment. We do not want to see it discouraged. But, I say this, -- as Canadians, a sense of national destiny for Canada calls for that investment being directed to the maximum benefit for Canada. I go farther than that – I quote the words of the Financial Post which I have just referred to, when it said this:

“How long, with the growing dominance of foreign-owned enterprises, Canada can continue a separate existence is the problem before Canada today.”

We believe that Canada has a function to provide, and the state has that function, to provide a climate and initiative, but we believe the time has come to give to Canadians under the law, and under the Income Tax Law, the same rights as foreign corporations have that come into Canada and risk their capital. We believe that there should be strong incentives in the Income Tax Act for Canadians to invest in Canadian equity stock.

We believe that the discriminatory method of taxing Canadian oil companies should be changed [4] so that Canadians are not at a disadvantage in competition with foreign investors. We believe that tax reductions should be permitted in research, in order to encourage Canadian research in every field. And we contend, and I am sure men and women in every party of this nation will agree with this, that the present unjustifiable and excessive rates of taxation must end - - that taxation must be reduced, and that it is time to take the unrepentant Tax Masters at Ottawa off the backs of the Canadian people.


Talk about inflation. The St. Laurent Government's excuse for the action that they have taken, which has been ineffective, is that you and I can't be trusted to spend our own money. They seem to believe, some of those Ivory Tower Boys, that if you spend your money it makes inflation, but if they take it from you and spend it no harm is done, Yes, I summarize our views in connection with taxation in but a few words. We believe that action must be taken now. We believe there can be no justification for Canadians being overtaxed to the extent of approximately $120 for every four-member family in this nation over and above what the Government requires for all the costs of defence and civil administration.

I say this to you, that when we form the government of this country we will immediately all a session of Parliament to reduce taxation in Canada for the benefit of Canadians.

I must hurry on and merely outline a few generalities at this time, in view of the hour. Our next step in connection with a National Development plan is that we believe that Canada needs increased population if her development is to keep pace with her vast resources. To that end, we will undertake a vigorous Immigration Policy in cooperation with the provinces to bring to Canada immigrants with needed skills and resources. We will revise the Immigration Act and Regulations. We will overhaul its administration to ensure that humanity will be considered andput an end to the bureaucratic interpretation which keeps out of Canada many potentially good citizens.


[6] We will assure the farmer his fair share of the national income by maintaining a flexible Price Support Program. I underline the word flexible to ensure an adequate parity for Agricultural Producers based on a Fair Price cost relationship. I will go into that on another occasion. It represents, in general, the viewpoint of organized Agriculture across Canada. It represents the experience of every other country with a free economy in Agriculture. It represents a need at this time if Agriculture is to take its proper place in this nation.

[7] Finally, we believe in the encouragement of competition in Business. We will act to that end and will curb the dangers of monopoly, as for an instance, in connection with TV Broadcasting and Air Transportation.

[7] One other matter I want to refer to-- that is to small Businessmen in this Nation.We in this Party believe that they are entitled to more consideration than they are receiving now. They need assistance. That has been proven in the United States of America. That is a demand within their own country. We say, insofar as small business is concerned, that we will undertake to set up a committee composed of members of the Cabinet and representatives of small business associations from all parts of Canada to recommend the necessary effective action to be taken in that regard. I had intended this evening to deal at length with Labour. That will have to remain for another occasion, along with many other matters that you wish to hear discussed. But I would be remiss, even at this late hour, if I did not return to rediscuss something that affects the freedom of Canadians everywhere. I mean that institution that is one of the three pillars


of democracy -- those pillars being the Canadian People, the Canadian Provinces and the Canadian Parliament. I speak now of Parliament -- I speak with my colleagues here from the House of Commons, Parliament – [8] the place that I love; Parliament that represents in its essence the preservation of our freedom. What things have been done to Parliament in recent years? In the British tradition of democracy, the Cabinet is constitutionally responsible to the elected representatives in Parliament. Such government, such responsibility (and I make this appeal to those who in the past have supported the Liberal Party) such government is, in every sense, of and by and for the people.

There was a time when I used to go to the Galleries of the House of Commons as a young man. I saw Meighen, and Borden, and King, and Lapointe. Parliament --what does it mean in the Liberal tradition? There was a time when that Party was militant, true to its faith in the cause of Freedom. I remember Mr. Lapointe using these words, and I underline them now:

"The first duty of Parliament is to remain a Parliament, not to become a subservient and ornamental body.”

It is subservient today with its majority, but it isn't ornamental. Yes – it is the will of Parliament, not that of a government, that is the will of the nation. The sovereignty of the people is delegated to Parliament, not to the Executive. When I say "Parliament”, it means the minority as well as the majority in Parliament, Those were the views that are no longer


held by those who profess Liberalism. The Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet have repeatedly looked at themselves and spoken of themselves as the sole interpreter of the will of the nation. Parliament -- how many of you have sat in the Gallery of the House of Commons? If you have been there, you will have seenthat great institution treated with shocking contempt, sorely wounded, robbed of its rights, its independence gone, usurped by a few Ministers who treat the rest of the Cabinet as juniors,  and members of all Parties as though they were not entitled to be there.

I have seen the progressive restriction of the supremacy of Parliament in the last ten years. I have seen Parliament bludgeoned, and I say that is no pipe-dream. Bludgeoned by a majority. I have seen the hands of the Cabinet directing members and disciplining them into an abject servility, My friends, there is an issue that transcends all others -- the preservation of freedom, its maintenance, the restoration of Parliament, and above everything else in that connection, an imperative and immediate  necessity of a return to the Two-Party system in this country if freedom is to be preserved and political democracy maintained.

I love Parliament. I have said that before. I am one of those who does not form personal antagonisms with others who sit opposite to me. I hope I shall continue in that. But I witnessed scenes -- my colleagues here witnessed scenes -- that deny anything like it ever having taken place in the history of a democracy. We say we will restore Parliament. Closure has its use. We have now found what its abuse means. [“Closure”] We shall abolish closure to guard against its abuse in the days ahead.


[Senate] One further step we shall take in connection with a major responsibility of restoring Parliament is to make the Senate effective. To that end, we intend to call a Dominion-Provincial Conference for the purpose of having recommendations made which will make that body an effective one in the democracy of our country.

[9] One word in regard to Social Security. The Prime Minister of Ontario has just said that human betterment is of the essence of Government. Much will be said of Social Security during this campaign. We intend to maintain all Social Security measures. We intend to maintain a standard to keep pace with a rising productivity of this nation. In Parliament and outside, we have condemned the rneagre and niggardly assistance given to Old Age Pensioners, by the increase of 20 cents a day, which leaves them in a position where they have less purchasing power than they had in 1951. And the same position applies to the War Pensioners and also to the retired Civil Servants.

In connection with Social Security we propose to set a figure high enough to meet the needs of our older citizens, and to make necessary adjustments thereafter on a cast of living basis, My mind goes back to my early days in East York, .Mr. Prime Minister, the first time I saw this building, when I was a boy travelling on the hurricane deck of a refuse wagon from Todmorden. I believe I know the needs of the average man and woman, My pledge to you is that you will receive adequate and fair treatment in keeping with the responsibilities of the state to assure a reasonable equality to all our citizens.


In this opening meeting of the campaign, the first of several major speeches that I intend to make, what I have dealt with is the need of a National Development policy to keep our young men and women in Canada, to build for Canada a Parliament that will be effective, a human betterment policy that will assure opportunity.

The platform, as it is revealed, will show that the Policy of this Party is based on its abiding faith in freedom; in the maintenance of our institutions which are the buttress of that freedom; in the sovereign independence of Canada; Canadians; in our dedication that the State shall be the Servant and not the Master of the people;that Communism will be resisted from within and from without Canada by every means within our concepts of freedom of the individual.

I shall say nothing of that case that today is being discussed in all parts of our nation, excepting this. When you follow the calendar of confusion in connection with the answers given by the Secretary of State for External Affairs and other Ministers of the Crown, you have further evidence of the fact that Parliament is treated with disdain and cavalier disregard to the necessity of giving to Parliament full, frank and truthful answers.

[Illegible] My friends, this is a time for greatness in planning for Canada’s future. Unity demands it; freedom requires it; vision will ensure it.


As far as the road on which the Liberal Party has travelled in recent years is concerned, if it is followed after the next election in the same direction, Canada would be led to the eventual extinction of its true Parliamentary system.

[Paragraph circled by Diefenbaker]: I believe that if this nation is to have a new birth of unity and freedom, we must go back to the vision and the idealism of Canada’s first Nation Builder.  He led the way – Macdonald did, to national tolerance, dignity and unity, as he joined with Cartier in brotherhood and in faith.

My pledge, on behalf of this Party, will be to do my part to achieve One Canada. I don’t think the people are asking for political carpentry today for both purposes. They are asking for something of a vision of a new Canada, the Canada that appears to me at this time, with its opportunity for Canadians. They ask for a lift in heart. They have a desire to serve. My purpose and my aim with my colleagues on this platform will be to bring to Canada and to Canadians a faith in their fellow Canadians, faith in the future in the destiny of this country.

[Commonwealth] Internationally, we must retain a close relationship with the commonwealth. In the tradition of this Party, we did resent, and we do resent the British people being castigated and derisively condemned as those “supermen” whose days are about over.

We must retain our relationship with our neighbor, the United States. We must recognize that her devotion to freedom means survival to free men all over the world.


We must remain true to our international obligations in the United Nations and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Above everything, we must return to the people of Canada their right to govern.

We must maintain the Federal system.

We must make articulate the yearnings and the aspirations of Canadians everywhere, even unto the humblest of our people.

If we are dedicated to this, - - and to this we are, - - you, my fellow Canadians, will require all the wisdom, all the power that comes from those spiritual springs that make freedom possible, - all the wisdom, all the faith and all the vision which the Conservative Party gave but yesterday under Macdonald, change to meet changing conditions, today having the responsibility of this party to lay the foundations of this nation for a great and glorious future.


Rt. Honourable John Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Opening Campaign Speech, Winnipeg

February 12, 1958

Opposition Tactics

From day to day, Mr. St-Laurent said to us that he intended to give the government a chance. His followers devoted long periods to questions each day, and to political criticism.  They spoke like lions; they voted like lambs.

Pearson said only a couple of weeks ago that an election is at hand. They ask now why there was an election.

I think I should now say a passing word regarding the Liberal Convention. We were challenged there over and over again. Then Mr. Pearson in his acceptance speech spoke of the dire fate that would come to the government - - “And soon!”, “And soon!”

Well, we held over the Supply Motion for a week so that it would be available to the Liberal party after the Convention to enable them to launch a motion of non-confidence. Then, ladies and gentlemen, came that immortal amendment, an amendment by which, instead of challenging the government to go to the people, they said to us, resign! Make way for us, but don’t have an election!

I don’t know who fathered that resolution. One man couldn’t have done it! On the third day of the Convention, their leader raised a fighting standard, a standard of defiance. Four days later, translated into a motion in the House of Commons, that fighting standard became a banner with a strange device – give us back our jobs!

“Give us back our jobs. But by-pass the people”. Mr. Chairman, that might work in undemocratic countries, but not in Canada.

They said they had no confidence in us. The amendment showed they had no confidence in the people either.

I want to be fair. Such an amendment in the diplomatic world might have got by. But as a parliamentary maneuver it couldn’t. They flashed the sword at the Convention. They returned it to the scabbard when they faced their opponents in the House of Commons: willing to wound, but not to strike. (Over).

The CCF policy of attacking us was to achieve the some end, members of the Liberal Party were afraid to move the votes of nonconfidence, but the CCF was not afraid because it knew the Liberal party would vote for them.


We called the election because it was called for, called for, by the need of a stable government to face the larger problems now facing Canada on a long-term basis. Called for, because the people of Canada as a whole realize that the possibility of a strong and effective government cannot be achieved without there being a majority. NO government, and I underline this, no government can grapple with major problems requiring long-term planning while in a minority,

They say that I called an election because of fear, fear to face responsibilities. I don’t believe that to trust the people is ever evidence of fear.

That’s the attitude I take, I have no hesitation in asking the people of Canada on the basis of our record to date. Whatever else you may say, however you may disagree, you must believe this: that the promises I made on behalf of this party have been carried out today, and will be carried out.

They say, it is a bad time for an election because the government ceases when the election is on. Did it cease during the days of war in January, February and March in 1940? Did it cease in 1945 when the war was still on? They speak of governor-general's warrants. That is simply a means whereby the Cabinet, in order to meet the needs -- the emergent and urgent needs of the time -- asks the Governor-General to give his warrant. Mr. King operated on that plan in 1940.

I say this to you; that every dollar that is expended by this government until the 31st of March will be placed before the new Parliament, when it is called, for the fullest scrutiny and examination. I want to make that very clear.

Conservative Record

What have we done in a few months?

I am going to set this out because I think you will judge the future by the past.

We started in the last few months, since June the 10th, to carry out our promises, and I can tell you this, that as long as I am Prime Minister of this country, the welfare of the average Canadian will not be forgotten.

National Development

We have laid the foundations for a National Development policy to equalize the economic opportunities of all the Provinces. We are now undertaking Projects across this nation to develop our Natural Resources.

External Trade

We have taken measures to restore our External Trade. In 1957 Canada’s Exports were the greatest in our history.

Yes, the Liberal Party admits that the tremendous adverse balance of trade is dangerous to Canada’s economy. When did it originate? What did they do about it? They sent notes.

But day before yesterday, the Liberal leader said, what we have to do is increase Canadian exports to the United States. Why didn’t they do it then? That’s the question.

We have undertaken a great policy to increase markets. We did what they said could not be done, convened a Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference to meet in September in Canada, to extend our Markets through Multilateral trade with other parts of the Commonwealth. They said it couldn’t be done.

Tight Money

We loosened up the Tight Money Policy of the previous government that strangled various industries in Canada. We provided $300,000,000 for Building Loans for Lower-Cost Housing. And this Winter, an all-time high in Winter Home Construction, thereby providing Canadian citizens with an estimated 75,000 jobs. (Over).

Lower Taxes

They said we couldn't reduce Taxes. That was back in June. In February, now, they say differently.

We reduced the Income Tax for 4,500,000 taxpayers by $146,080,000. We took 100,080 people in the lowest earning class off the rolls. We reduced the Excise Tax on Automobiles. This, all, since October 14th.


One of the major reasons of my being in public life was to do something on behalf of that major industry in Canada, Agriculture, We provided Cash Advances on Farrn-Stored Grain. When we tried to get that two or three years ago, Mr. Howe said -- and when he said it,  that was final – Mr. Howe said the Wheat Board would resign. They haven't resigned yet. We brought in Legislation long sought by Farmers to stabilize Farm Prices, and to give prosperity by having prices each crop based on a fair relationship to the cost of production.

As far as this legislation is concerned, it provides the details: An Advisory Board to be set up and now being set up, will recommend the prices for farm products on designated products, and regard will be had to the cost of production.

We have prevented the Canadian Farmers from being subject to the detrimental effects of Bumping of United States Farm Products into our country.

We brought in a Price Spreads Commission which will report to us, we believe, by the month of June, and as soon as it reports, we intend to assure that the Farmer will receive a maximum share of the price paid by the consumer.


We have extended the Supplementary Unemployment Insurance Benefits from 16 to 24 weeks.

All of us believe in Immigration. We began to realize in July, however, that unless something was done, on the basis of the information we had, the Unemployment situation might be worse.

We brought into being Annual Vacations with Pay for all workers.

We removed the Discrimination against Married Women,

We have given representation to Labour on all Government Boards and Commissions.


To provide for the future development of Canada and to ensure jobs, we have launched a nation-wide works projects for constructive works, for dividend - paying works, of $1, 185,000,000 of which $270,000,000 will be spent in the first three months of this year.

On the other hand, those who criticize us today had the record before them in February last, that conditions in the United States and Canada pointed to a recession, that the bloom was off the boom, and that it was necessary to act.

Financial Aid to Provinces

We have provided Financial Assistance to the Provinces including Special Grants-in-Aid to the Maritime Provinces. We called together a Dominion- Provincial Conference.

In order to help the Provinces, as an Interim Measure, we decided to make available some $62,000,000 over and above what they agreed to accept last year.

We have preserved the Equalization principles of Tax Rentals and will preserve that principle. I want to make that very clear at this time.


We have increased Old Age Pensions, Old Age Assistance payments, payments to the Disabled Persons and Blind Pensions. You remember the treatment you got under the last government? I gave you a promise on behalf of this Party. That promise, as other promises, has been carried out,

For the Veterans, we increased Allowances for 60,000 veterans and Disability Pensions Benefits for 192,080,

We have provided Federal Grants for Hospital Construction being doubled .


Social Security Study

As promised during the Campaign last year, I have authorized through the Government an outstanding Canadian Economist to examine and give full consideration to the Insurance System in the United States, over and above anything that we have today. And listen to what it does:

Under the American plan a person receives Payments at the age of 65 years orlater, Disability benefits at 50, for which there is no Means Test. On an Average Income a person receives at that time from $88.50 to $98,50 per month. The monthly Retirement for a husband and wife over 65 is $132,813 per month. If one dies $66.40 is still paid to the survivor -- if a widow, with two children, $177.20, Death payments of $265, The entire system is financed by contributions by Employers, Employees and the Self-Employed,

We want that report, within the next three, months, so that we will be in a position on the basis thereof to have Parliament give consideration to the establishment of such a system over and above what we already have,


National Development

We intend to launch for the future, the long-range objectives of this party. We ask from you a Mandate: a new -and a stringer- mandate, to pursue the planning and to carry to fruition our new National development programrne for Canada.

This national Development Policy will create a new sense of National Purpose and National Destiny. One Canada ! One Canada, wherein Canadians will have preserved to them the control of their own economic and political destiny. Sir John A. Macdonald gave his life to this Party. He opened the West. He saw Canada from East to West. I see a new Canada--a Canada of the North, What are these new principles? What are our objectives? What do we propose?

Aid to the Provinces

We propose to assist the provinces, with their co-operation, in the financing and construction of job-creating projects necessary for the new development, where such projects are beyond the resources of the provinces. We will assist the provinces with their co-operation in the conservation of the renewable natural resources. We will aid in projects which are self-liquidating.

Northern Development

We will aid in projects which, while not self-liquidating will lead to the development of the national resources for the opening of Canada's Northland.

We will open that Northland for development by improving Transportation and Communication and by the Development of Power, by the Building of Access
Roads. We will make an Inventory of our Hydro-Electric potential.

Canada First

We now intend to bring in legislation to encourage progressively increasing processing of our domestic Raw Materials in Canada, rather than Shipping them out in Raw Material form,

We will ensure that Canada's National Resources are used to benefit Canadians and that Canadians have an opportunity to participate in Canada's Development. We have not discouraged Foreign Investment, but we will encourage the partnership of the Foreign Investors with the Canadian people.

Taxation adjustments to place Canadians on a more equal footing with Foreign Investors, Encourage Foreign Investors to make Equity Stock available to Canadians for purchase, to appoint Canadians to Executive positions, to deny the present plan of certain American Companies that do not give to Canadian Plants their fair share of the Export business. Those are some of the things we want to do.

We will maintain Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, We will develop Canada's Hydro-Electric powers in International rivers.

Public Works for National Development

We have launched that Programme I mentioned a moment ago, that National Programme of Public Works designed to effect National Development. We have already started on this Programme. We secured Parliamentary approval for the assistance of the Beechwood Hydro-Electric project in the Maritimes, because they are behind, economically there through a lack of Hydro-Electric Power. We provided a Thermal Electric Programme for the Atlantic Provinces.

I believe that negotiations are not far away for the commencement of the South Saskatchewan Dam, We are negotiating for a Joint Federal-Provincial Forest Access roads programme. I think of a vast programme on Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, hiding resources that Canadians have little realization of, We intend to start a vast Roads Programme for the Yukon and Northwest Territories which will open up for exploration vast new Oil and Mineral areas, 30,000,000 acres, I believe, is the area. We will also launch the $75,000,000 Joint Federal-Provincial Programme to build Access Roads,
This is the vision.


Small Business

We will establish a Business Advisory Committee. We know the position of Small Business in this Country, the backbone of our business, suffering as no other business has suffered by the Liberal Party's Tight Money Policy, We will set up a Business Advisory Committee to prepare material to assist the Small Businessman to find the type of Government business he can participate in, and in addition to that, a Programme of Financial assistance to enable the Expansion of Small Business and the provision of jobs.

A New Vision

Canadians, realize your opportunities! This is only the Beginning, The future Programme for the next five to seven years under a Progressive Conservative Government is one that is calculated to give young Canadians, motivated by a desire to serve, a lift in the heart. Faith in Canada's Future, Faith in her Destiny. We will extend aid to economically sound Railway Projects, such as the Pine Point Railroad to Great Slave Lake.

We will press for Hydro-Electric development of the Columbia River, which now awaits completion of an agreement with the United States, We're going to call a National Convention on Conservation to map a National Conservation policy to extend the principles of farm rehabilitation to all Canada, to maintain a continuing study of soils and land use, We have under consideration a possible second Trans Canada Highway route. There is a new imagination now. The Arctic, We intend to carry out the Legislative Programme of Arctic research, to develop Arctic routes, to develop those vast hidden resources the last few years have revealed. Plans to improve the St. Lawrence and the Hudson Bay Route. Plans to increase Self- Government in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, We can see one or two Provinces there.

"One Canada"

This is the message I give to you my fellow Canadians - not one of defeatism – Jobs! Jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadian people, A new vision! A new hope! A new soul for Canada. One Canada, ladies and gentlemen, that's my message. And what will this mean to Canada? It will mean the creation of equal opportunities for all! Canadians, I am not unmindful of those who are unemployed. The Cabinet of which I have the honour to be the Prime Minister, will not fail those who are unemployed.

Completion of Confederation by developing a self-governing North. It will mean capital investment by Canadians and by foreign investors of many millions of dollars. It will assure to Canadians that renewable resources will be renewed.


It is for those things that I ask a Mandate. These are the reasons that I appeal to the Canadian people, a Mandate for a Clear Majority.

We need a Clear Majority to carry out this long-range plan, this great design, this blueprint for the Canada which her resources make possible.

I want to see Canadians given a transcending sense of national purpose, such as Macdonald gave in his day. To safeguard our independence, restore our unity, a policy that will scrupulously respect the rights of the Provinces, and at the same time build for the achievement of that one Canada, is the major reason why 35 of our 113 members in the House of Commons are sufficiently young to belong to the Young Progressive Conservatives. They caught that vision. I am here for the purpose, as a Canadian, to give you a picture of the kind of Canada the long range plans that we have in mind will bring about.

Liberal Platform

Last spring, common economic prudence would have dictated a balanced budget, an easing of tight money, the reparation of a shelf of public worth. If they knew the situation; they did nothing. They wore warned by their officials. They were warned by the Opposition. I was told that my viewpoint in this regard was economic lunacy. Now they say, cut taxes. They continued in tire course of high taxation, of budget surpluses and tight money having wrung the taxpayer dry, they suddenly become his champion. The Liberal party is now learning from us.

Yes, they become most promising pupils. What have they found? They have discovered the needs of the taxpayers ! Why didn't they, when in power?

They have discovered the needs of the farmers! Why didn’t they then?
They discovered the needs of the small businessmen. Why didn't they then?

They discovered the needs of municipalities. They discovered the Maritimes.
Ladies and gentlemen, they have even discovered the North !

I summarize their programme. What was heresy to them in June, has become policy in February, Yes, w hat was heresy in June has become policy in February.


The Conservative Party

"The Party of National Destiny" –

This Party has become the Party of National Destiny. I hope it will be the party of vision and courage. The party of one Canada, with equal opportunities to a1 1. The only party that can give to youth an Elizabethan sense of grand design--that’s my challenge.

The faith to venture with enthusiasm to the frontiers of a nation; that faith, that assurance that will be provided with a government strong enough to implement plans for development.

To the young men and women of this nation I say, Canada is within your hands. Adventure. Adventure to the nation’s utmost bounds, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. The policies that will be placed before the people of Canada in this campaign will be ones that will ensure that today and this century will belong to Canada. The destination is one Canada. To that end I dedicate this party.

The election was called; it was called for. Last June the Canadian people voted for a change, but failed to give a workable majority. I want to say this party has become she vital symbol of the average Canadian. I am asking for your support, because these things can come true, these achievements will be attained, It has been said that if you attempt great things, you can achieve great things. Canada, one Canada. I ask your support.

We have done the things that have to be done immediately. We have lived up to our promises, We have not failed you, Day in and day out while the Liberals said they co-operated, they held us back. By multitudes of questions never equaled in all history before the business of the day.

"The Grand Blueprint"

My hope is that we make articulate the yearnings and the aspirations of the humblest of our people. To that purpose we are dedicated. And you, my fellow-Canadians, will require all the wisdom, all the faith, all the vision that is necessary for the building of that Canada.

We have shown you that we do not believe election promises are cream puffs. We have carried them out. We have proven true to the faith you have put in us. I ask for your support so that we can go together and build for the achievement of that Canada which without regard to party considerations is the aim and the purpose of Canadians. We have the plan, the grand blueprint that can be achieved if men and women, without regard to party considerations, will give us the opportunity to bring about the Canada that her resources make possible.

To-night, Thursday,

April 25th, 1957

In Massey Hall, Toronto,

John Diefenbaker, Q.C. opens his national campaign for the election on June 10th of a Progressive Conservative Government.

Photograph caption: Leslie Frost, Prime Minister of Ontario, and John Diefenbaker, Q.C.

Poster of Diefenbaker

Handwritten note “IV” and [illegible]

“It’s Time for A Diefenbaker Government”

“A New National Policy”

“Unity Requires It. . .

Freedom Demands It. . .

Vision Will Ensure It. . .”

John Diefenbaker’s Opening Campaign Speech – Toronto – April 25th

Poster: John Diefenbaker, Great Canadian

Photo caption: The Prime Minister in front of the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

Talking Points for PC Speakers & Workers 

General Election 1958

Section 2 National Development

Roads to Resources

The program provides for:
Roads in Provinces

A Major Five Year Plan of Assistance to the Provinces for the construction of Roads necessary for the Development of Resources in the Northern Areas of the Provinces. Under this Program the Federal Government will share with the Provinces 50% of the Cost of Constructing any roads that would open new areas in which there is substantial promise of Resource Development. On the basis of indicated plans from a number of the Provinces the Program will result in a firm expenditure on Resource Roads of $75,000,000 and the final total will likely be over $100, 000,000. Beginning April 1, 1958, $1 ½ MILLIONS in Federal Funds will be available to each of the ten Provinces during each of the following five years. The maximum annual federal expenditure will be $15 millions and the maximum amount available to each province over the five-year period will be $7 ½ MILLIONS.

Roads in Territories

The Government has significantly increased the pace of Road Building activity throughout the two Northern Territories. It has announced a programme in the Yukon to construct Bridges on the main Highway system to eliminate the need for Ferries; to build an Access Road to the Eagle Plain and Peel Plateau areas with ultimate access to the Mackenzie river; and to speed up improvement of the Canol Road. In the N.W.T. it is accelerating the construction of a Road Connection to Fort Smith and also to Yellowknife.

Railroad to Great Slave Lake

In its First Eight Months the New Conservative Government has extended the very fullest cooperation to the C.P.R. and the C.N.R. in the studies now under way in connection with the proposed Railway to Great Slave Lake. The Railways are making a Location Survey in an effort to find the most satisfactory route, as well as an Economic Study of potential revenue which might result from the completion of such a Railway.


The Government has put into effect a policy of helping in the Construction of Airstrips to aid in the Opening of Mines in areas where there are no Roads.

Amendments to Northwest Territories Act

The Northwest Territories Act was amended to give the Commissioner of the Territories the power to borrow money from the Federal Government and to lend money to Municipal and School Associations. This amendment places the Northwest Territories on the same footing as the Yukon in this regard, and is part of the program of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources to move the status of the Government of the Territories towards Self Government. (There was also another amendment dealing with the appointment of Police Magistrates).

Low Rental Housing Project Proposals

Subject to the approval of the Council of the Yukon Territory, which will meet in the latter part of March, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation will commence construction this Spring of a three-bedroom row

Housing Project at Whitehorse, Y.T.

The project is expected to contain some 30 Units and in order to bring Rents within the means of the tenants in this relatively High-Cost Area, the Federal Government will be prepared to provide 75 per cent of the cost of a monthly subsidy which will reduce the rent per unit by $35 a month.

Power Project at Frobisher Bay

Announcement has been made that a Power Development is to be started at Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island which will provide badly needed service as well as jobs.

Pamphlet: “Black Friday: It’s Time for a Diefenbaker Government”

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

“That Friday needs to be remembered. . . If it is allowed to fade out of memory it may become something worse: a turning point in the course of the country’s history: the point at which the decay of Canadian democracy began.” (Vancouver Sun, August 16, 1956)

Three political cartoons on the lefthand side:

  1. Illustration of the Ottawa skyline, with caption reading “Reidford – Ottawa – Wed. morning May 16, 1956. Cold drizzle.” –Reidford, Toronto Globe & Mail
  2. A gentleman with a cigar and a hat wearing a sign that says “U.S. Control” waves good-bye through a doorway to a lady whose dress reads “Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Ltd.” In her hand she carries a bag of money reading “Payment of Loan”; a politician kisses her hand and says “I ask not – I care not if guilt’s in thy heart. I know that I love thee whatever thou art!” Text below reads: “Famous Quote – The fact that the pipeline is being built will ‘impress the public more than will quibbling and dickering about ways and means’ –C.D. Howe” The title of the cartoon reads “The Company She Keeps.”  -Grassick – Toronto Telegram
  3. A frowning C.D. Howe burps a baby over his shoulder, saying “Shh! Why did you have to go and wake up the whole house?” The baby wears a hat reading “Tennessee- Oops – Trans-Canada Pipeline Co.” A bottle on the floor is labeled “New loan formula.” Title of the cartoon reads: “A Million Dollar Baby . . .And Howe” – John Collins – Montreal Gazette.

It has been a sorry session for Parliament with a government which has willingly laid a pattern for dictatorship. (Calgary Herald, Aug. 16, 1956)

Our gravest danger is that, now that voices have died down and decisions have been reached, we may come to forget the whole matter as if only government policy had been at issue. The details of the pipeline legislation are insignificant compared with the people’s right to a voice and their right to government by full parliament after free discussion. (St. Catherines Standard, July 12, 1956)

The government and its supine majority cannot erase from the record the most vicious and sustained attack on the rights of Parliament in the history of Canada. (Winnipeg Tribune, May 30, 1956).

The government evidently feels chastened by the uproar which its high-handed methods provoked. That is all to the good, but it does not mean that the muzzling tactics, and the rulings which sustained them, should be forgiven and forgotten. They are still on the record, for the use of some unregenerate and unrepentant government of the future. (Toronto Daily Star, June 12, 1956)

Only a new Commons can repair the damage to Parliament. (Maclean’s Magazine, July 7, 1956)

ON THE DAY DEMOCRACY was ultimately defiled in your Parliament-"Black Friday", the first of June, 1956-the occasion was celebrated in riotous song by the Government of Louis St. Laurent and its followers. While opposition members tried desperately to be heard, their voices were drowned in raucous sound from Liberal benches.

Unbelievable as it may seem, Government supporters chose to sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Hail! Hail! The Gang's all here-" What the--do we care!" Well, "the Gang" was all there, and the cause of their celebration was described by Mr. C. D. Howe as "my last great ' project -a charitable loan to Texas oil men and the wrecking of Parliament.

What was the "Pipeline" fiasco? Simply this: An American oil company (85% U.S. owned) wanted to build a pipeline on Canadian soil, carrying Canadian gas to markets in the United States and Canada.          

But the American company wanted something more than that. They wanted the Canadian taxpayer to loan them the money to do it- $80 000 000.

For this they needed the approval of Parliament. The Government and their 165-odd supporters knew just how to oblige them.

Closure !

In other words, the government would introduce the necessary legislation and by the use of closure, prevent questions, stifle debate and remove the need for explanation. The bill, the loan, the principle all would be forced down the throats of any who would protest . . . Parliament, the Canadian people, the Canadian taxpayer.

That is how it happened. The bill was purposely delayed until the end of the session so that the government could plead that haste was essential. Mr. Howe introduced the bill and introduced closure in the same breath. There was, of course, no debate on the first reading.

There was no debate allowed on second reading.

It was carried by closure.

In committee, 6 of the 7 clauses in the bill were carried by closure. No one was allowed to speak. Except Mr. Howe.

The third and final reading of the bill was also carried on closure. The Prime Minister, himself, gave notice, and that was that.

Or almost that.

In the process, the government violated the House of Commons. debased the office of its Speaker, rewrote the rule book. To the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers," might became right, the bill became law, the oil men got their multimillion-dollar deal.

And the Calgary Herald commented, "It has been a sorry session for Parliament with a government which has willingly laid the pattern for dictatorship."

Yet there are some Liberals and their apologists who would defend this wretched travesty.

"There was nothing wrong with the loan, and it has all been paid back," they explain.

Indeed! The promoters of the U.S. pipeline company did repay the loan. The event was celebrated by a "Press Reception" arranged by the Liberal Party's (and the Pipeline's) advertising agency. The promoters pocketed a neat $1,700,000.00 in stock market profits-with your money-and without risk!

In this general election, the events that culminated in "Black Friday" are an issue. Those who will vote Liberal must support "the most vicious attack on Parliament in Canada's history." Indeed each Liberal vote adds another voice to that Liberal chorus singing, "Hail! Hail! The Gang's all here-What the--do we care now!" Those who vote Progressive Conservative in this election will help set right the course of the people's Parliament in Canada. For this issue does not involve the fortunes of a political party but rather the future of parliamentary democracy.

It is your privilege to vote against "Black Friday". By so doing, you serve notice on future governments that those who violate the people's rights will reap the people's wrath.

Remember "Black Friday" when you vote on Monday, June 10.