The 14th Prime Minister of Canada, considered the father of modern peacekeeping (the United Nations Emergency Force – the first of its kind – was his creation), and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in defusing the Suez Crisis (the selection committee said he “saved the world” and he remains the only Canadian to ever win it), Lester Bowles Pearson was one of the most influential Canadians of the 20th century.
For twenty years he served as Canada’s foremost statesman with the Department of External Affairs, beggining in 1928. During this time he forged Canada’s international image and played an important role in the creation of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
He began his political career in 1948 when he won the riding of Algoma-East and was made Minister of External Affairs for the Liberal government of Louis St. Laurent. At this same time he served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
In 2004 the CBC had a poll to determine the ‘Top Greatest Canadians’ voted by Canadians. Mr. Pearson was sixth on that list. From their introduction:
“When it comes to Canadian Prime Ministers, few accomplished so much in so little time as Lester B. Pearson. During his five years in office Pearson oversaw the introduction of the Canada Pension Plan, a national system of universal Medicare, the Commission on bilingualisim and bicultrualism, and the Maple Leaf Flag. And, he did it all without ever winning a majority government.”