OTD: Diefenbaker defeated over nuclear weapons policy

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.


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.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.