Jack Pickersgill

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John Whitney "Jack" Pickersgill, PC CC (June 23, 1905 – November 14, 1997) was a Canadian civil servant and politician. He was born in Ontario, but was raised in Manitoba. He was the Clerk for the Canadian Government's Privy Council in the early 1950s. He was first elected to federal parliament in 1953, representing a Newfoundland electoral district, and serving in prime minister Louis St. Laurent's cabinet. In the mid-1960s, he served again in cabinet, this time under prime minister Lester B. Pearson. He resigned from parliament in 1967 to become the president of the Canadian Transport Commission. He was awarded the highest level of the Order of Canada in 1970. In his later years he wrote books on Canadian history. He died in 1997 in Ottawa.

Early years[edit]

Pickersgill was born in Wyecombe, Ontario on June 23, 1905.[1] His family moved to Ashern, Manitoba when he was a young child.[1] He is the older brother of Frank Pickersgill. He was educated at the University of Manitoba and the University of Oxford, and taught history in Winnipeg.[1]

Senior civil servant[edit]

He joined the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa, and was soon working at the Prime Minister's Office as Assistant Private Secretary to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.[1] In 1945, he became Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, and was officially in charge of the Prime Minister's Office. He stayed on to work for King's successor, Louis St. Laurent, and became Clerk of the Privy Council in 1952.[2] He was a senior and trusted adviser to both Prime Ministers: "Clear it with Jack" was the byword on Parliament Hill for years.[1]

MP, Cabinet Minister[edit]

Pickersgill entered the Canadian House of Commons as Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Bonavista-Twillingate, Newfoundland as a result of the 1953 election.[2] Pickersgill had become involved in Newfoundland politics at the informal request of leading federal politicians in the late 1940s and was instrumental in supporting Newfoundland's pro-confederacy movement. Mr. Pickersgill had no prior connection to the island. During an interview with Geoff Stirling in the 1980s he stated that powerful interests in Canada wanted to see Newfoundland join Canada.

He entered the Canadian Cabinet as Secretary of State for Canada in 1953, and was named Minister for Citizenship and Immigration in 1954.[2] When the Liberal government was defeated in the 1957 election, Pickersgill was re-elected as an MP, and became a leading tormentor of the new government of John George Diefenbaker from the opposition benches.[1]

With the 1963 election and the coming to power of Lester Pearson as Prime Minister, Pickersgill returned to Cabinet, first as Secretary of State for Canada and Government House Leader, and then as Minister of Transport.[2] In 1967, he retired from politics to become president of the Canadian Transport Commission.

Honours[edit]

In 1970, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, with his investment into the order in 1971.[3] He was later bestowed the title "The Right Honourable", usually reserved in Canada for certain members of the Privy Council (which he was a member of and its Clerk from 1952–1954),[2] for Prime Ministers, Governors-General and Chief Justices, as recognition of his service.

Writings[edit]

He and D.F. Forster authored the four volumes of The Mackenzie King Record, which was based on King's diaries. Pickersgill is also the author of three political memoirs: My Years with Louis St. Laurent, The Road Back, and Seeing Canada Whole.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Canadian Press (1997-11-15). "Jack Pickersgill's influence spanned 30 years". The Toronto Star (Toronto). p. A16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "PICKERSGILL, The Right Hon. John Whitney, P.C., C.C., M.A., LL.D.". Parlinfo – Complete Parliamentarian file. Ottawa: Parliament of Canada. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  3. ^ "J.W. Pickersgill, P.C., C.C., M.A., LL.D.". It's an Honour. Governor General of Canada. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 


Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Frederick Gordon Bradley
Member of Parliament from Bonavista—Twillingate
1953-1967
Succeeded by
Charles Ronald McKay Granger
Political offices
Preceded by
Gordon Minto Churchill
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
1963
Succeeded by
Guy Favreau
Preceded by
Lionel Chevrier
Liberal Party House Leader
1963
Succeeded by
Guy Favreau