On today’s date in 1974, prime minister John Diefenbaker was sworn in as an MP for the 12th consecutive time—a Canadian record, to which he would add another victory before his death five years later.
First rejected by voters in Prince Albert, Sask., in federal elections in 1925 and 1926 – plus provincial elections in 1929 and 1938 and a municipal bid to be that city’s mayor in 1933 – Diefenbaker’s “perseverance in winning the party leadership was outstripped only by his determination to gain public office in the first place,” according to a 1956 story published by CBC News.
“He finally gained office on his sixth try, as MP for Saskatchewan’s Lake Centre riding, in 1940.”
In 1945 and 1949, Diefenbaker was re-elected in Lake Centre; however, he “almost quit politics after the federal Liberals re-drew electoral boundaries and eliminated his riding,” CBC reported in 1956. Despite the political struggles, he was elected in 1953 in Prince Albert, which he represented for more than a quarter-century.
Three years later, after three failed attempts, Diefenbaker was elected as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. He became Canada’s 13th prime minister in 1957 and served until 1963.
He would remain as an MP until three months before his death on Aug. 16, 1979.
In 1980, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) commemorated Diefenbaker on a 17-cent dark-blue stamp (Scott #859).
Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company, the stamp was designed by Ottawa artist Bernard Reilander based on photographs of Diefenbaker taken while he was prime minister. The design was steel-engraved by Yves Baril.