Revival and Change
296 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
15 b&w photos, 4 maps, 3 charts, 8 tables
Release Date:01 Nov 2022
Release Date:01 Nov 2022
Release Date:01 Nov 2022

Revival and Change

The 1957 and 1958 Diefenbaker Elections

UBC Press

Revival and Change is a compelling account of the elections, accomplishments, challenges, failures, and ultimate end of the Diefenbaker era.

The Liberals had been in office for two decades when the 1957 election was called and were widely expected to win another majority government. But it soon became clear that John Diefenbaker, the new Conservative leader, overshadowed his opponents. He seized the opportunity that television and boisterous rallies offered to denounce Liberal arrogance and to present his vision of a new Canada. He captured the mood of the country and was ultimately victorious. A second election in 1958 resulted in a landslide victory for the new Conservative Government. The Liberals were reduced to their smallest number of seats since Confederation, the CCF lost its leader and all but eight seats, and Social Credit was wiped out completely. It was a rout never before seen in Canadian history.

This is the story of those elections, the government and opposition they produced, the issues that defined the government, and the era’s legacy in Canadian politics and society.

This work will find an attentive audience among readers of Canadian politics, elections, history, and public policy, and will be necessary reading for students of political science, Canadian studies, and history.

History cannot predict – but it can produce – intergenerational wisdom. Courtney’s insightful and granular analysis of Diefenbaker’s election record is a historical CAT scan of Canada's demographic, regional, and linguistic anatomy that is deeply relevant to our present political challenges. Hugh Segal, former principal secretary to Ontario Premier William Davis and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Revival and Change is without doubt the best treatment of two critical Canadian federal elections. J. L. Granatstein, emeritus, York University, CHOICE Connect
Ending two decades of Liberal rule, the 1957 and 1958 elections were certainly turning points in Canadian federal politics. John Courtney brings to life these events, recounting not only the electoral campaigns themselves, but the causes and effects of the Progressive Conservatives’ thunderous victories. Revival and Change will stand as the definitive history of John Diefenbaker’s rise to power. Asa McKercher, author of Camelot and Canada: Canadian-American Relations in the Kennedy Era

John C. Courtney is a senior policy fellow in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and a professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He is a past president of the Canadian Political Science Association and editor of the Canadian Journal of Political Science. Among many other works, Courtney is the author of Commissioned Ridings: Designing Canada’s Electoral Districts; The Selection of National Party Leaders in Canada; Do Conventions Matter?; and Elections.

Foreword: Turning Point Elections ... and the Case of the 1957 and 1958 Elections / Gerald Baier and R. Kenneth Carty


1 On the Cusp of Change

2 The Parties Heading into the 1957 Election

3 The Players in 1957

4 The Issues in 1957

5 The 1957 Campaign

6 A New Parliament, a New Leader, and Another Election

7 Challenges, Failures, Defeat, and Regrouping

8 Legacies

9 Turning Point for the Parties and the Party System

Appendix 1: List of Key Players

Appendix 2: Timeline of Events

Appendix 3: Data Tables

Notes; Suggestions for Further Reading; Index

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