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John George Diefenbaker

John George Diefenbaker
Date of Birth:September 18, 1895
Place of Birth:Neustadt, Ontario
Spouses:Edna Brower, Olive Palmer
Political Party:Progressive Conservative

John George Diefenbaker (September 18, 1895 - August 16, 1979) was the thirteenth Prime Minister of Canada.

He was born in Neustadt, Ontario, Canada.

Diefenbaker received a B.A. in 1915, an M.A. in Political Science and Economics in 1916 and his LL.B. in 1919 from the University of Saskatchewan.

He married Edna Brower (1901-1951) in 1929. In 1953 he was re-married to Olive Palmer (1902-1976), who had a daughter from a previous marriage.

Diefenbaker served a brief stint in the army, acquiring the rank of Lieutenant in the 105th Saskatoon Fusiliers. He was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1919 and became a criminal lawyer. He worked in provincial politics as the leader of the Saskatchewan Conservative party from 1936-1938.

He led the national Progressive Conservative party from 1956-1967 and became Prime Minister of Canada from June 21, 1957 - April 22, 1963.

He is well known for not getting along with United States President John F. Kennedy, who thought Diefenbaker "boring". Diefenbaker's opinions on JFK were less refined, having been quoted as calling Kennedy "a boastful sonofabitch".

Diefenbaker made one of the most controversial decisions of the last century in Canada in 1959 when his government cancelled the development and manufacture of the Avro Arrow, a Mach 2 supersonic jet fighter built by A.V. Roe Canada (Avro), in Malton, Ontario, just west of Toronto. After cancelling the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world, the Canadian government purchased the American made Bomarc missile system which theoretically would help defend Canada in the event of a Soviet nuclear bomber attack from the north. The Bomarc missile program became obsolete prior to its installation in Canada.

Diefenbaker was also instrumental in bringing in the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960. This was the first attempt to legally codify the basic rights of Canadian citizens but because the Bill of Rights was not a constitutional amendment, it had little legal power and was largely ignored by the courts.

Diefenbaker lost the 1963 Federal Election to Lester Pearson and the Liberal Party. At the time, Diefenbaker believed it was due to a conspiracy by the Kennedy administration, but such fears were never proved grounded. Diefenbaker retained his parliamentary seat for many years, even into the administration of Pierre Trudeau.

Diefenbaker died on August 16, 1979 in Ottawa, Ontario and is buried beside the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Preceded by:
Louis St. Laurent
Prime Minister of Canada Followed by:
Lester B. Pearson