Canadian federal election, 1962
When the 1962 Canadian federal election was called, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada of John George Diefenbaker had governed for almost five years with the largest majority in the House of Commons in Canadian history. The Diefenbaker government had introduced reforms to social programs, a Canadian Bill of Rights, and other changes. The Tories were reduced to a tenuous minority government as a result of economic difficulties such as high unemployment and a slumping Canadian dollar, as well as unpopular decisions such as the cancellation of the Avro Arrow.
Despite the Diefenbaker government's difficulties, the Liberals under Lester Pearson were unable to make up enough ground in the election to defeat the government.
The 1962 election was the first contested by the social democratic New Democratic Party of Canada, which had been formed from an alliance between the old Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress. The party chose longtime Premier of Saskatchewan Tommy Douglas as its first leader. The new party was able to recover ground lost by the CCF in the 1958 federal election, when it was nearly wiped out. It won almost 50% more votes than the CCF had ever managed, but it failed to achieve the major breakthrough that had been hoped for when the party was created.
Douglas failed to win his own seat in the province of Saskatchewan, and the NDP was shut out in this province, which was its political base. Douglas's campaign was hurt by chaos in Saskatchewan brought about by the introduction of Medicare and a resulting strike by the province's doctors. Douglas was forced to enter the Canadian House of Commons through a by-election in British Columbia. Despite the initial chaos, medicare proved popular, spread throughout the country, and is considered the NDP's (and Douglas') major contribution to the Canadian social fabric.
n.a. = not applicable - the party was not recognized in the previous election
x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote
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