On today’s date in 1963, the House of Commons voted 142-111 in favour of a resolution of no confidence in the minority government of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
The resolution was spurred on by Diefenbaker’s nuclear weapons policy plus the resignation of Defence Minister Douglas Harkness. Parliament was dissolved the following day, on Feb. 6, by Governor-General George Vanier. Elections were scheduled for April 8.
“The end came at 9:04 p.m., when, after losing two want-of-confidence motions, the prime minister rose and said simply: ‘Mr. Speaker, I shall advise His Excellency, the Governor-General, tomorrow. I now move, seconded by Mr. Churchill, that his House do now adjourn,’” reads a Feb. 6, 1963, story by The Montreal Gazette.
“MPs of all parties cheered, banged desk-tops and hurled copies of Hansard across the chamber at one another as a week of drama, excitement and uncertainty came to an end.”
Negotiations with the Social Credit Party, which had enough votes to save the government, failed.
Diefenbaker later resigned after he was beaten by Lester Pearson, who fell five seats short of an absolute majority in the April 8 general election.
PRIME MINISTER MEDALLION SET
During the 1970s, Shell Canada featured Diefenbaker in a 15-medallion set, “The Prime Ministers of Canada 1867-1970.”
The set featured each Canadian prime minister between 1867 and 1970 and was issued for distribution from Shell dealers across Canada.