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Canadian federal election, 1958

The Canadian federal election of 1958 was the 24th general election in Canada's history. It was held to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 24th Parliament of Canada on March 31, 1958, just nine months after the 23rd election. It transformed Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's minority into the largest majority government in Canadian history and the second largest percentage of the popular vote. Although the Tories would surpass their 1958-seat total in the 1984 election, the 1958 result (achieved in a smaller House) remains unmatched both in terms of percentage of seats (78.5%) and the size of the Government majority over all opposition parties (a 151-seat majority). Voter turnout was 79.4%.[1]

Canadian federal election, 1958
Canada
← 1957 March 31, 1958 1962 →

265 seats in the 24th Canadian Parliament
133 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 79.4% (Increase5.3pp)
  First party Second party
  John G. Diefenbaker.jpg Lester B. Pearson with a pencil.jpg
Leader John Diefenbaker Lester B. Pearson
Party Progressive Conservative Liberal
Leader since December 14, 1956 January 16, 1958
Leader's seat Prince Albert Algoma East
Last election 111 104
Seats won 208 48
Seat change Increase97 Decrease56
Popular vote 3,910,852 2,459,700
Percentage 53.67% 33.75%
Swing Increase14.64pp Decrease8.58pp

  Third party Fourth party
  M.J. Coldwell in 1944.jpg Solon Earl Low
Leader Major James Coldwell Solon Earl Low
Party Co-operative Commonwealth Social Credit
Leader since March 22, 1942 April 6, 1944
Leader's seat Rosetown—Biggar (lost re-election) Peace River
(lost re-election)
Last election 25 19
Seats won 8 0
Seat change Decrease17 Decrease19
Popular vote 692,398 188,717
Percentage 9.50% 2.59%
Swing Decrease1.21pp Decrease4.03pp

Canada 1958 Federal Election.svg

Prime Minister before election

John Diefenbaker
Progressive Conservative

Prime Minister-designate

John Diefenbaker
Progressive Conservative

Contents

OverviewEdit

Diefenbaker called a snap election and capitalized on three factors:

  • Nationally, the Liberals had just chosen a new leader, Lester Pearson, who had given an ill-advised maiden speech in Commons that asked Diefenbaker to resign and recommend the Governor General allow the Liberals to form a government without an election due to the recent economic downturn. Diefenbaker seized on the remark by describing a series of classified Liberal Cabinet documents stating that the economy would face a downturn in that year. This contrasted heavily with the Liberals' 1957 campaign promises.
  • A turnaround in Quebec: Quebec had been largely Liberal since the Conscription Crisis of 1917, but upon the resignation of former Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, the province had no favourite son leader, as they had since 1948, and its voters were open to new options. Seeking a greater voice in Ottawa, Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis's Union Nationale used their party machine to ally with the Tories, allowing Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives to win two thirds of the seats in what had been a Liberal stronghold for a generation. While the Liberals finished only four percentage points behind the Tories in Quebec, much of their vote was wasted racking up large majorities in their traditional safest seats. Nevertheless, the 25 seats the Liberals won in Quebec accounted for more than half of their decimated caucus, and on a proportional basis was their best performance after Newfoundland.
  • A collapse in support for the Social Credit Party which lost all 19 of its seats. Prior to the 1957 election, the Socreds were seen as a credible threat to replace the Tories as the main right wing party in the country, as they had done in British Columbia and Alberta, but the popularity of the Diefenbaker government persuaded many Social Credit supporters to abandon their party. This allowed the Tories to pick up not only Social Credit seats, but also proved decisive in many seats that featured a fractured vote between the PCs, Social Credit, Liberals, and CCF. Notably, the Tories swept all seventeen seats in Alberta, where they had previously held just three seats to Social Credit's thirteen. The election proved to be the start of a long decline for the federal Social Credit Party. It would never seriously challenge the PCs dominance in the West again in federal politics, although the BC Social Credit Party governed that province for all but three years until 1991.

National resultsEdit

 
The Canadian parliament after the 1958 election.
208 48 8 1
Progressive Conservative Liberal CCF O
Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1957 Elected % Change # % pp Change
  Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker 265 111 208 +87.4% 3,908,633 53.66% +14.85
  Liberal Lester B. Pearson 264 104 48 -53.8% 2,432,953 33.40% -7.35
     Co-operative Commonwealth M.J. Coldwell 169 25 8 -68.0% 692,668 9.51% -1.20
  Liberal–Labour 1 1 1 0% 11,956 0.16% -
Social Credit Solon Low 82 19 - -100% 188,356 2.59% -3.99
  Independent 9 2 - -100% 14,211 0.20% -0.87
  Independent Liberal 10 2 - -100% 12,054 0.17% -1.25
Labor–Progressive Tim Buck 18 - - - 9,769 0.13% +0.02
     Candidats des électeurs Réal Caouette 1 - - - 8,276 0.11% -0.01
  Independent PC 5 1 - -100% 2,097 0.03% -0.19
  Socialist 2 * - * 1,113 0.02% *
  Capital familial H-G Grenier 1 * - * 968 0.01% *
  Radical chrétien 1 * - * 687 0.01% *
  Independent SC 1 - - - 361 x -0.04
  Ouvrier canadien 1 * - * 243 x *
  Independent Conservative 1 * - * 122 x *
Total 831 265 265 - 7,284,467 100.00%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Notes:

"Previous" refers to standings at previous election, not to standings in the House of Commons at dissolution.

* The party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote

Vote and seat summariesEdit

Popular vote
PC
  
53.66%
Liberal
  
33.40%
CCF
  
9.51%
Social Credit
  
2.59%
Others
  
0.84%
Seat totals
PC
  
78.49%
Liberal
  
18.11%
CCF
  
3.02%
Others
  
0.38%

Results by provinceEdit

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL YK NW Total
  Progressive Conservative Seats: 18 17 16 14 67 50 7 12 4 2 1 - 208
  Vote (%): 49.4 59.9 51.4 56.7 56.4 49.6 54.1 57.0 62.2 45.2 54.5 42.8 53.7
  Liberal Seats: - - - - 14 25 3 - - 5 - 1 48
  Vote (%): 16.1 13.7 19.6 21.6 32.1 45.6 43.4 38.4 37.5 54.4 43.3 57.2 33.4
     Co-operative Commonwealth Seats: 4 - 1 - 3 - - - - -     8
     Vote (%): 24.5 4.4 28.4 19.6 10.5 2.3 1.8 4.5 0.3 0.2     9.5
  Liberal-Labour Seats:         1               1
  Vote (%):         0.5               0.2
Total Seats 22 17 17 14 85 75 10 12 4 7 1 1 265
Parties that won no seats:
Social Credit Vote (%): 9.6 21.6 0.4 1.8 0.3 0.6 0.7           2.6
  Independent Vote (%):     xx xx 0.1 0.6             0.2
  Independent Liberal Vote (%):           0.6       0.2     0.2
Labor–Progressive Vote (%): 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.1             0.1
     C. des électeurs Vote (%):           0.4             0.1
  Independent PC Vote (%):   0.1     0.1               xx
Socialist Vote (%):         xx xx             xx
  Capitale familiale Vote (%):           xx             xx
  Radical chrétien Vote (%):           xx             xx
  Independent SC Vote (%):   0.1                     xx
  Ouvrier canadien Vote (%):           xx             xx
  Ind. Conservative Vote (%):                     2.3   xx

xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Pomfret, R. "Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums". Elections Canada. Elections Canada. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 

External linksEdit