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Having undergone two general elections in the past ten months and four in the past six years, the Canadian electorate is uneasy about the continued existence of minority governments. Last B. Pearson, Canada's new prime minister, based his campaign on the issue of stable government and responsible leadership, hoping to get a majority in the twenty-sixth Parliament. Unfortunately, Pearson received only 42 per cent of the popular vote, while the Conservatives garnered 32 per cent, the Social Credit 14, and the New Democratic Party 12. The country felt general dissatisfaction with both traditional parties and expressed it with a pluralistic vote patter.
Pearson has been in office for the first five of the sixty-day period during which he promised to "get Canada moving again." Although he is three members short of a majority he has been pledged the support of 41 seats now held by the New Democratic and Social Credit parties. But because Parliament does not convene until May 16, it is difficult to determine exactly what his government intends to do. The only indication so far has been the appointment of his Cabinet. In choosing his 25 Minister, Pearson has judiciously mixed members of Canada's so-called political "new guard" with those of the "old guard."
His Cabinet shows no surprise choices, but Yvon Dupuis, M.P. from St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville was no ticeably absent. Since Dupuis successfully led the Liberal campaign in the key province of Quebec, many expected that Pearson would reward him with a Cabinet appointment. He did not.
If anything was a surprise, it was the choice of Miss Judy La Marsh as Minister of Health. Although political pundits suspected that she would gain a Cabinet post, few thought that she would receive one as important as the Health portfolio. Expected appointments from she "old guard" were Lionel Chevrier (Justice), Paul Martin (External affairs), J.W. Pickersgill (State Secretary), and Walter Gordon (Finance). Maurice Lamontagne (Privy Council President). Allan J. Mac Eachen (Labor) and Paul Hellver (Defense) are notable representatives of the youthful "new guard."
It is generally accepted that 39 year-old Hellver was chosen Minister of Defense over 50 year-old C.M. Drury because Heller has openly favored nuclear war-heads for Canadian based American missiles. Pearson himself appears eager to talk with Washington about the the controversy that brought down the Diefenbaker government in February. The Prime Minister plans to visit President Kennedy sometime soon.
During the campaign, Pearson promised to work toward a more balanced and stable government. By appointing ten French-Canadians to his Cabinet, Pearson hopes to ameliorate the nation's decisive biculture problems. The six ministers from Montreal, the three from Toronto, and the two from Vancouver show that Pearson has given adequate representation to the urban industrial areas. And each of the provinces, with the exception of all-Tory Saskatchewan, will have at least one voice in the Cabinet.
As Prime Minister, Pearson has the opportunity to make good his ambition: "To deserve success rather than to achieve it." Pearson's Cabinet is one both of experience and youth; he has the pledged support of 171 members of the House and the hopes of a frustrated country behind hi. His chances of success are good.
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