Lester B. Pearson

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Lester Pearson (1897-1972) is one of Canada’s most important political figures. A Nobel Peace laureate, he is considered a great peacekeeper and ‘honest broker.’ But in this critical examination of his work, Pearson is exposed as an ardent cold warrior who backed colonialism and apartheid in Africa, Zionism, coups in Guatemala, Iran and Brazil and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. A beneficiary of U.S. intervention in Canadian political affairs, he also provided important support to the U.S. in Vietnam and pushed to send troops to the American war in Korea." [1]

Background

"In 1924 Pearson joined the staff of the History Department of the University of Toronto, leaving it and academic life in 1928 to accept a position as first secretary in the Canadian Department of External Affairs. In this post until 1935, Pearson received an education in domestic economic affairs while «on loan»; in 1931 as secretary to a commission on wheat futures and during 1934-1935 as secretary of a commission investigating commodity prices; the same post provided him with an apprenticeship in international diplomacy when he participated in the Hague Conference on Codification of International Law(1930), the London Naval Conference (1930), the Geneva World Disarmament Conference (1933-1934), another London Naval Conference (1935), and in sessions of the League of Nations (1935).

"Pearson moved forward rapidly. From 1935 to 1941 he served in the office of the High Commissioner for Canada in London; in May, 1941, he was appointed assistant undersecretary of state for External Affairs at Ottawa; in June, 1942, named minister-counselor at the Canadian Legation in Washington; in July, 1944, promoted to the rank of minister plenipotentiary and in January, 1945, to the rank of ambassador. During his Washington stay, Pearson participated in the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943 and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 1943-1945; in the Dumbarton Oaks Conference on preliminary discussion for an organization of united nations (1944); and in the San Francisco Conference on the establishment of the UN (1945).

"Pearson took over the post of undersecretary of state for External Affairs in the fall of 1946, but gave it up two years later for the possibility of action in a larger arena. In that year, Louis S. St. Laurent, the secretary of state, became prime minister of a Liberal government, replacing his retiring leader, Mackenzie King. Pearson, having conducted a successful campaign for a seat in the Commons to represent the Algoma East riding of Ontario, was given the External Affairs portfolio, holding it for nine years until the advent of John Diefenbaker's Conservative government.

"Pearson drafted the speech in which Prime Minister St. Laurent proposed the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), signed the enabling treaty in 1949, headed the Canadian delegation to NATO until 1957, and functioned as chairman of the NATO Council in 1951-1952. Pearson also headed the Canadian delegation to the UN from 1946 to 1956, being elected to the presidency of the Seventh Session of the General Assembly in 1952-1953. As chairman of the General Assembly's Special Committee on Palestine, he laid the groundwork for the creation of the state of Israel in 1947. In the Suez crisis of 1956, when the United Kingdom, France, and Israel invaded Egyptian territory, Pearson proposed and sponsored the resolution which created a United Nations Emergency Force to police that area, thus permitting the invading nations to withdraw with a minimum loss of face..." [2]

Critical Books

  • Yves Engler, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt (RED Publishing, 2012).

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch

References

  1. yvesengler Books, organizational web page, accessed April 23, 2012.
  2. nobelprize Lester B. Pearson, organizational web page, accessed April 23, 2012.