150+ Canadians Day 39: Lester B. Pearson

“The best defence of peace is not power, but the removal of the causes of war, and international agreements which will put peace on a stronger foundation, than the terror of destruction.”

Lester B. Pearson contributed to peace by laying the conceptual framework for UN Peacekeeping during the Suez Crisis. #Canada150

The 1956 Suez Crisis was a military and political confrontation in Egypt that threatened to divide the United States and Great Britain, potentially harming the Western military alliance that had won the Second World War. Lester B. Pearson, who later became prime minister of Canada, won a Nobel Peace Prize for using the world’s first, large-scale United Nations peacekeeping force to de-escalate the situation. – Canadian Encyclopedia

Pearson was Canada’s foremost diplomat of the 1950s and 1960s, and formulated its basic post-WW-11 foreign policy. A skilled politician, he rebuilt the Liberal Party, and as prime minister strove to maintain Canada’s national unity. Under his leadership, the government implemented the Canada Pension Plan, a universal Medicare system, and a new flag.

As a solution to the Suez Crisis he proposed the establishment of The United Nations Emergency Force. He is considered to be the father of the concept of international peacekeeping.  He was awarded the the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his role in resolving this crisis.

“The choice, however, is as clear now for nations as it was once for the individual: peace or extinction.”

Some in Canada and Britain objected to his perceived lack of support for Britain. In the 1957 Canadian election, he and the Liberal party of the day faced accusations that they had betrayed Britain — still regarded by many Canadians as the Mother Country. Pearson defended his position as the best way to stop the fighting before it spread. The veracity of the criticism they received is thought to have played a part in the Liberal government’s defeat in the following national election.

His work became the basis of U.N. peacekeeping around the world.

“It would be especially tragic if the people who most cherish ideals of peace, who are most anxious for political cooperation on a wider than national scale, make the mistake of underestimating the pace of economic change in our modern world.”

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