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Prime Ministers of Canada: Lester B. Pearson…
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Prime Ministers of Canada: Lester B. Pearson

by Gordon Gibb

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This is a light and breezy read. As political biographies go this one is fair on the way to being a hagiography - few, if any, tough questions are asked of Lester B. ("Mike") Pearson's notable choices and behaviours. It has something of the fond, familial and jocular tone of a retirement speech or a valedictory roast. Still, it's also true that Lester Pearson would be the most likely candidate for Miss Congeniality if a beauty contest was held among Canada's prime ministers. Certainly when you compare him with the eight people who followed him in this office he is, strikingly, the most humanely principled of the bunch, and the one who did the most to create Canada's long-lasting image as a global peace-keeping, which is being forcefully and sadly eroded by his most recent replacement. I can, at least, remind myself of the days when I was proud to be Canadian. This would make a good high school library addition.

"He was a lifelong academic, studying at Oxford and becoming a professor in his 20’s — and later a career diplomat, a job that ultimately led to his two terms as Prime Minister. He preferred to wear bow ties, possessed a high-pitched voice and had a lisp.... yet, when he spoke the entire world listened. During his time as Prime Minister, the man after whom Toronto’s International Airport is named helped bring in things like universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, and our Canadian flag with the distinctive red maple leaf. During his time as Prime Minister, Canada became bilingual, and ‘O Canada’ was officially adopted as our nation’s official anthem. Things we take for granted today, but initiatives which, at the time, proved controversial. Pearson, as Prime Minister, accomplished all that and more, with successive minority governments. He never had a majority.... Pearson ultimately is more famous for his contributions on the world stage, through his work with NATO and the United Nations. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 following his work diffusing the crisis over the Suez Canal, and his singular vision that became the United Nations Peacekeeping Force." ( )
  Ron_Peters | Apr 14, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 192740083X, Paperback)

Canada's 14th Prime Minister was a statement in contrasts. He was an academic, and an athlete. He was a politician who hated politics. He had powerful friends throughout the world - and he was an everyman who preferred the quiet solitude of home and hearth, and intimate gatherings with friends. He spoke with a lisp and favoured bow ties. And yet when he spoke, the entire world listened.

Lester Bowles 'Mike' Pearson never aspired to the mantle of Canadian government. And yet, when fate intervened and he found himself first as Leader of The Opposition and then later as Prime Minister, Pearson and his government achieved a remarkable number of significant reforms that went a long way towards shaping the country we know today. These include universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, official bilingualism, and the adoption of the distinctive Maple Leaf flag. Remarkably, the Pearson government achieved all this and much more with two, successive minority governments.

Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Lester Pearson's background was in the Canadian Civil Service. He was present at the founding of the United Nations, and his vision for a UN Peacekeeping Force played a major role in averting the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956. Subsequently, Pearson was the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in concert with his international diplomacy.

Throughout his academic and political life he remained on a first-name basis with world leaders, and was easily the best-known Canadian on the world stage. And yet he was not given to the trappings of fame or status, and in tandem with his professional accomplishments he maintained his love for sports, and especially baseball.

A man of simple tastes, Pearson was selfless and unquestionably dedicated. His career required constant air travel, and yet he didn't fly well. He preferred understated homes over opulent addresses. And while he would view the implementation of the Canadian flag as his proudest achievement, in most respects he viewed himself as little more than a regular guy, just doing his job.

He was also one of the best Prime Ministers of our time....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 31 Aug 2015 05:41:12 -0400)

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