Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Canadian federal election, 1957
The Liberals had won election after election on programs of successful fiscal management and moderate and conciliatory policies. By the 1950s, many believed that the party was arrogant and too close to business. Controversial debates, such as the 1956 "Pipeline Debate" over the construction of the Trans-Canada Pipeline , had hurt the government and exposed it to charges of arrogance. Western Canadians also felt alienated from the government which they believed was dominated by Ontario and Quebec interests. Louis St. Laurent, nicknamed 'Uncle Louis', was still popular, but many felt he had lost touch with ordinary Canadians.
In 1956, the PC party had elected the fiery and charismatic Diefenbaker as their leader. Many people disliked him, and felt he had too little experience to be a strong challenger to the Liberals. Because they believed that there was little hope of defeating the Liberals in the next election, many Tories supported Diefenbaker as a caretaker leader.
The PC campaign was based on Canadian nationalism and the need for a change. The "Tories" also embraced their Red Tory side, pledging to out-spend the Liberals on social programs. The Liberals were attacked as free marketers who would leave the Canadian population without an adequate safety net. One of the most ambitious elements of the Tory program was the "New Frontier Policy" of infrastructure development that would lead ot the populating of the north.
The Liberal campaign was far less ambitious, supporting a stay-the-course message, with moderate reforms and a continuation of competent administration. The economy was booming and the Liberals felt this was enough to win re-election. The Liberals also had ammunition to use against Diefenbaker: he was a member of the Orange Lodge, and had a history of making anti-Catholic statements
The Tories' greatest asset soon turned out to be Diefenbaker, however. His ethnic background attracted a new group of supporters to the traditionally Anglo-Saxon Tory party. He was also able to use his charisma to great success. This was the first Canadian election to be televised, and while only a minority of Canadians owned a television, most got some opportunity to see the candidates they were voting for. Diefenbaker was viewed as honest and dedicated, while the 75 year old St. Laurent was felt to be distant and humourless.
The campaign was also the first in Canada to use modern political advertising techniques. PC strategists like Dalton Camp and Allister Grosart ran a more tightly-planned campaign than any in Canadian history. An important strategy was almost completely ignoring the province of Quebec -- PC the strategists felt they had little chance there. They also believed they could win without the province.
In an era before widespread polling, the results of the election came as a surprise to most Canadians, including most politicians. The Liberals won the popular vote, but lost the election as they piled up massive majorities in Quebec. In the West, Ontario, and the Maritimes, the Tories gained enough seats to form a minority government. Noted Liberal ministers like C.D. Howe, the "Minister of Everything", lost their seats.
Many Canadians were overjoyed to see change, and spontaneous celebrations occurred in many parts of the country. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation anchor covering the election famously lit a cigar in satisfaction with the result.
The Liberal defeat caused many high profile Liberals to resign and be replaced by younger members. St. Laurent resigned and was replaced by Lester B. Pearson. The Tory minority government lasted for less than a year before Diefenbaker called another election in which he won the largest majority in Canadian history, including winning many seats in Quebec.
Turn-out: 74.1% of eligible voters voted.
|Party||Party Leader||# of candidates||Seats||Popular Vote|
|Independent Liberal|| ||27||2||2||-||93,466||1.41%||+0.20%|
|Independent PC|| ||6||-||1||-||14,525||0.22%||+0.19%|
|Candidats des électeurs||1||n.a.||-||n.a.||8,129||0.12%||n.a.|
|Independent SC|| ||2||-||-||-||2,737||0.04%||+0.03%|
|Canadian Democrat|| ||1||n.a.||-||n.a.||628||0.01%||n.a.|
|Liberal Conservative Coalition|| ||1||n.a.||-||n.a.||252||x||n.a.|
|National Credit Control|| ||1||n.a.||-||n.a.||122||x||n.a.|
|Total|| || |
|Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867|
(1) The Liberal-Labour MP sat with the Liberal caucus.
"Previous" refers to to standings at previous election, not to standings in the House of Commons at dissolution.
n.a. = not applicable - the party was not recognized in the previous election
x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote
Results by province
|Parties that won no seats:|
|Candidats des électeurs||Vote:||0.5||0.1|
|Independent Social Credit||Vote:||0.1||xx|
|Liberal Conservative Coalition||Vote:||xx||xx|
|National Credit Control||Vote:||xx||xx|
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote
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