Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 1958

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Liberal leadership election, 1958
Date January 16, 1958
Convention Ottawa Coliseum,
Lansdowne Park,
Ottawa, Ontario
Resigning leader Louis St. Laurent
Won by Lester Pearson
Ballots 1
Candidates 3
Liberal leadership elections
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A Liberal Party of Canada leadership election was called to replace Liberal leader Louis St. Laurent, who had resigned as Prime Minister after the 1957 election. On the first ballot, former External Affairs minister Lester Pearson defeated former cabinet minister Paul Martin and Mayor of Portage la Prairie, Harold Lloyd Henderson.[1]


The Liberals had held power for 22 years until their defeat in the 1957 federal election on June 10, 1957, which returned a Progressive Conservative minority government. Louis St. Laurent, who had led the Liberals since 1948, announced on September 6, 1957 that he would not be leading the Liberals into another election.[2]


Donald Hugh Mackay, Mayor of Calgary, withdrew his candidacy a week before the convention. Former Finance Minister Walter Edward Harris, who had lost his seat in the election, had initially been expected to be Pearson's main competitor but did not run.[3] Newfoundland MP and former Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Jack Pickersgill was also expected to run but did not stand. Other names mentioned as possible candidates were former Fisheries Minister and British Columbia MP James Sinclair (Coast—Capilano), former Transport Minister and Montreal MP George Carlyle Marler (Saint-Antoine—Westmount), and former Public Works Minister Robert Winters who had lost his Queens—Lunenburg, Nova Scotia seat in the election.[3]

Pearson was the choice of the party establishment, had strong support from MPs in Quebec and Toronto, and won overwhelmingly on the first ballot and was also helped by being awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize weeks before the convention. Martin, who had been on the left of the St. Laurent cabinet, attempted to appeal to the rank-and-file,[1]


First Ballot
Candidate Delegate Support Percentage
Lester B. Pearson with a pencil.jpg PEARSON, Lester Bowles 1,074 77.8%
MARTIN, Paul Joseph James 305 22.1%
HENDERSON, Harold Lloyd 1 0.1%
Total 1,380 100%


  1. ^ a b "1958 LIBERAL CONVENTION". CPAC. Cable Public Affairs Channel. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  2. ^ "Sf. Laurent Statement". Globe and Mail. 7 September 1957. 
  3. ^ a b "Pearson's Post Position: Leadership Struggle Expected". Globe and Mail. 7 September 1957.