Lester Bowles Pearson



Lester Bowles Pearson also known as 'Mike' during his days in the Royal Flying Corps, was a statesman, soldier, professor, civil servant, politician, public servant and was a prime minister of Canada from 1963-1968. He was born on the 23rd of April, 1897 in Newtonbrook, Ontario. He passed away on the 27th of December, 1972 in Ottawa, Ontario due to cancer.

What was Lester Bowles Peaterson involved in that made him a leader?

Lester B. Pearson was first a soldier involved in the First World War, serving as the Canadian Army Medical Corps and later in 1915 was sent to Greece in joining the Allied armies to fight against the Bulgarians. After 2 years of medical while in the army, he transferred to Royal Flying Corps in England. Lester B. Pearson was involved in an accident a year later when he was run over by a London bus during a city blackout. He was taken home to recover, but was discharged from service for the flying corps.

At this point he was undecided on a career, so after earning Bachelor of Arts (BA) from University Of Toronto he tried to pursue Law and Business and won a fellowship (means he won a award competitively for graduation) to Oxford then hired by University Of Toronto to teach history along with tennis and coaching football. Soon, he was married and had children. As a professor finding his salary insufficient, he joined the Department of External Affairs which is now known as Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. With the experience from the First World War and as a professor by 1928, he had trained himself as a perceptive observer and an talented writer which aided him in his work. In 1935 he was sent to London in the Canadian High Commission as Europe drifted towards the Second World War.

He was second-in-command where he coordinated military supply and refugee situations serving under High Commissioner, Vincent Massey. He stayed second-in-command for nearly 2 years. Lester B. Pearson once served as a courier in WW2 with the codename "Mike". Pearson met William Mackenzie King who tried to recruit him into his government as the war had settled down. As Pearson was honored to meet him, he did not like his way of thing and therefore did not move to politics until Mackenzie King announced his retirement as Prime Minister of Canada by 1946. If Lester B. Pearson did not happen to get the bus accident, he would have stayed to serve the military and would not have bothered to take interest in politics.

What actions did Lester Bowles Peterson take to show leadership?

As a minister of External Affairs in 1948, Lester B. Pearson represented Ontario in the House of Commons when he left civil service for politics. He helped lead Canada into the Korean war in 1950 while being a contributor to the United Nations (UN) army. IN 1952 he served as a president of the United Nations General Assembly where he tried to find a solution to the conflict. Although the fight between North Korea and South Korea still goes on today, Lester B. Pearson did manage to stop the combat phase and divided the Peninsula that still forms a boundary between North and South Korea when the UN managed to get a treaty signed on 27th of July 1953. Lester B. Pearson's biggest achievement came in 1956 when he requested a UN peacekeeping force for dragging the British and French out of Egypt during the Suez Canal Crisis. This crisis was a military and political confrontation in Egypt that threatened to divide the United States and Great Britain, that could eventually harm the Western military alliance that won the Second World War. Pearson's plan was implemented to control the situation and as a reward, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. Pearson also created the new Canada flag during the time as prime minister. He introduced a Canada Pension Plan, a new medicare system, unified armed force and introduced student loans to help post-secondary students pay for their education in Canada.

Which three leadership traits apply to Lester Bowles Pearson?

The first leadership trait from Nelson Mandela that applies to Lester B. Pearson is, "Quitting is leading too". This trait applies to Pearson because after he was discharged or forced to quit from the Royal Flying Corps in England, he had a chance to study in University again which he got a Bachelor of Arts from and tried to study Law and Business which took him to the path of a civil servant and politician to become a Minister of Affairs and later to become a prime minister. This had lead him to his successful campaigns and resulted in a great career. If he did not quit the military or if it wasn't for that bus accident, he would have continued most of his life serving the military and would have the risk of eventually getting killed in combat. As a result, during his time in the Royal Flying Corps, he had two accidents and a plane crash which he was lucky to survive from.

The second leadership trait that applies to Lester B. Pearson is, "Appearances matter-and remember to smile" This trait applies to Pearson because when he was sent to Washington as second-in-command in the Canadian High Commission at the Canadian Legation in 1942, his easygoing personality and his charm provided him a great success especially with the press. As a result, he was named Canadian Ambassador to the United States. Pearson was kind, gave fairness, was generous and was lively. He respected other representatives who in turn would acknowledge him.

The last leadership trait that applies to Lester B. Pearson is, "Courage is not the absence of fear-it's inspiring other to move beyond it". This is because during Pearson's time as a leader of the Liberal Party before he becomes prime minister, he and the St.Laurent government were blamed for not standing on Britain's side during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. Thus, the Liberals were defeated and St.Laurent resigned as leader. But Pearson was not afraid and showed courage. He defeated Paul Joseph James Martin who was a Liberal who managed to introduce a system of health grants and threatened resignation to make prime minister St.Laurent accept national health insurance.

After beating him, Pearson became Liberal party leader. Next he had to face a minority Conservative government under John Diefenbaker. Pearson was brave enough to challenge John Diefenbaker to resign and turn the government to him. In a general election the liberals were reduced to 49 of the 265 seats in the Commons. But Pearson did not stop there. He progressively began to rebuild the party with the help from parliamentary debaters such as John Whitney Pickersgill and party workers like Walter Gordon. It became a national party. During the 1962 general election, Pearson had raised the party's total to 100 seats and by 1963, Diefenbaker's government collapsed over a issue of nuclear weapons. in the following election the Liberals won 128 seats to form a minority government.

It was Lester B. Pearson's courage and strength that lead him to become a party leader and defeat a Conservative government to for his own minority government (a government in which the governing party has most seats but still less than half the total). Therefore these are the three leadership traits from Nelson Mandela that I chose which would apply to Lester Bowles Pearson.


Even though Lester Bowles Pearson was a prime minister of Canada for only 5 years, he had done many campaigns and applied new laws that has made a difference to Canada even today in a positive way. He had left behind a Canada Pension Plan, a universal health care system, a unified armed force, new Canada Maple Leaf flag and a student loan plan. After Lester Bowles Pearson retired, he made Pierre Trudeau his predecessor as new prime minister of Canada. Unfortunately he had to go through a surgery for his right eye to be removed in order to remove a tumor in that area in 1970. Pearson had passed away on December 27th, 1972 in his Ottawa home when the cancer had spread to his liver and went through a coma. Lester B. Pearson was the 14th prime minister of Canada and a respectable one.