In April 23, 1897, a boy nicknamed Mike was born in Newtonbrook, Toronto. This boy nicknamed Mike will be the 14th Prime Minister of Canada and will be known to the public by his real name, Lester B. Pearson. The life and legacy of Lester Pearson is very memorable and influential and I considered it to be Canada’s defining moment since 1945. However, it would be wrong to assume such things without examining some of his achievements, what it stands for and means for Canada. Even though he did remarkable things during his years, the most notable would be his dealing with the Suez Crisis, the Canada pension plan and the new flag of Canada. Through explanation of these events, it will be sure that the life and legacy of Lester Pearson is indeed Canada’s moment that should be noted ‘important’ at Canadian history books. The resolution of the Suez Crisis, or the Suez War, was done with a major involvement of Lester Pearson. Before explaining Lester Pearson’s achievement, it is necessary to fully understand the scale and importance of this international event. The Suez Crisis was an international dispute regarding the Suez Canal, which was built by Egyptian workers under the French and British-owned Suez Canal Company when Egypt was England’s colony. This canal was very important as it could shorten trade routes from the European continent to the Asian continent, especially it’s trade routes to India. This canal was very important for the British economy and its markets, . After the Second World War, Egypt became independent from England. As the Suez Company was very profitable, the company was seized and nationalized by the government, which happened during the Cold War. Egypt’s stated reason for the nationalization of the canal was to use the shipping tolls to finance construction of the Aswan Dam — which promised to control flooding on the Nile, and provide hydroelectricity as well as other means of industrializing the country. However, England, France and their regional ally Israel started to form a military response. To oppose this, the Egyptian government obtained military arms through the Soviet Union. When diplomacy failed to produce a solution, France, Britain and Israel secretly plotted to attack, without informing the US, Canada and other NATO allies. A war broke out as Israel sent forces to within 49 kilometers of the canal and Britain and France, after a warning, bombed the Canal Zone. Through this conflict, the Canadian government’s role was to conciliate. Pearson, who was at that time Canada’s secretary of state for external affair, spent almost 6 months to work toward a diplomatic solution to the Suez Crisis before the bombing. After the bombing, he developed the idea for the UN to have a large-scale peacekeeping force. At that time, UN military observers were only used to monitor cease-fire agreements, and Pearson made his case for having a more robust and armored peacekeeping force by saying: “Peace is more than ceasing to fire”. Pearson’s solution allowed Britain, France and Israel to withdraw their forces without giving the appearance of having been defeated. For his initiative in Egypt, Pearson won the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, as he invented the concept of peacekeeping. Pearson’s act has two major meanings for Canada’s history. First of all, Pearson’s act showed what Canada stood for. A resolution of a major international conflict peacefully showed Canada’s promotion of peace and good. Secondly, Pearson’s act showed Canada’s independence from England. Many people accused him for betraying Britain, which many people considered to as the Mother Country. Pearson’s act resulted as a peaceful resolution, but not in favor of Britain. This shows that Canada is much more independent than before, building its status as a country, not a colony.Lester Pearson’s government have done many things to improve Canadian society. Their government was the government to apply Tommy Douglas’s plan to introduce universal health care to the citizens of Canada. That was Tommy Douglas’s achievement, and Lester Pearson had an equally great plan to help the citizen of Canada as a whole, it is the Canada pension plan. The Canada pension plan was first established by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1965. The Canada pension plan is a pillar of Canada’s retirement income system and is characterized by three key elements. First, it is a universal public retirement income plan, meaning it covers all eligible Canadians, regardless of where they reside. Second, the plan is a contribution plan based on individual’s employment. The plan is not a direct subsidy for seniors but based on contributions made by employees. Finally, the plan is a mandatory contribution plan. Employees and employers are required by the law to contribute. Due to such contributions, the plan is equal and fair, while helping the poor and elders of Canada. This plan of Pearson’s was for the people and was the welfare plan every Canadians would be thankful to have, as it guaranteed them a future worth living for.Finally, Lester Pearson made a new flag for Canada, which we use to this day. Canada’s flag had gone through numerous changes through the different eras. At the time of New France, two flags could be viewed as having national status would be the banner of France and the completely white flag of the French Royal Navy. After these flags, people used the Red Ensign, the flag of the British Merchant Marine was flown from fur companies. The Royal Union Flag was also flown at the time from company forts. The first government attempt for a new Canadian flag came from Prime Minister Mackenzie King in 1925. However, he backed down when there was a general outcry against any attack on the Union Jack, which shows that people are still royal and colony of England. King tried it again in 1945 but abandoned the idea for lack of consensus. The great flag debate was once again raised by Lester Pearson, as the leader of Official Opposition, in 1960. Many people either were attached to the Canadian Red Ensign or the Union Jack. This threatened the national unity as Quebec’s separatist movement grew. All parties agreed that Canada should have a flag, but there was no agreement on its design. Pearson appointed an all-party committee, seeing that it could not be adopted in Parliament. After a process of elimination, the final vote was between the Pearson Pennant and the single leaf flag. After a vote, the single leaf flag got a unanimous vote. As a result, the Red Ensign was taken down, and the national flag officially unfurled on 15 February 1965 at Parliament Hill. Even though Pearson’s suggested Pearson Pennant was not voted for, he was the one who raised the flag question again, a question that King has failed to go through twice. It is also important to notice having a national flag that is true to the country. Each country needs a flag as a visual representation of its people—and to distinguish it from other nations. A flag is also a code of honor. The previous flags were flags from other countries, as Canada was a part of their colony. However, Canada was much more independent than before, so both the Red Ensign and the Union Flag was not suitable for Canada. As Lester Pearson raised the flag question again, it made Canada a free and independent country with a proud flag that can represent its citizens.Canada is Canada now because of many great people, but many parts were affected strongly by Lester Pearson. Lester Pearson’s resolution for the Suez Crisis showed Canada’s stand at the international politics and its promotion for good and peace. Canada pension plan helped Canadians life economically, as it is a pillar of Canada’s retirement income system. The proposal for a new flag was a revolutionary movement, giving Canada its own flag that reflects its people and what it stands for. These are important things that Canadian textbooks should have. Since 1945, Canada has gone through progress and developments to be the present Canada we know. And there is no single event that was tedious or unimportant. However, to note a moment that future Canadians must know, it would be the life and legacy of Lester Pearson. This was Canada’s defining moment since 1945.  


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