1963 in Parliament: Death of a President

John F. Kennedy in Ottawa

1963 in Parliament: Death of a President

November 22, 2017 2:29pmET


Fifty-four years ago today, the House of Commons met for a normal late-autumn sitting.

Lester Pearson, the new Liberal prime minister leading a minority government, debated the purchase and maintenance of new DC-9 aircraft for Trans-Canada Airlines with Opposition Leader John Diefenbaker. At issue was whether maintenance jobs would go to Winnipeg or eastern Canada.

Before the 1 p.m. break, there were also questions on Canadians imprisoned in Cuba, trade, fisheries, and wheat shipments to eastern Europe. The House resumed sitting 90 minutes later, now convening as a committee of supply to consider government estimates.

The MP acting as chair (Lucien Lamoureux) returned control to the Speaker, who allowed the prime minister to deliver shocking news.

Read the Debates, along with annotated notes we’ve added with extra details:

Source: House of Commons Debates

Kennedy visited Ottawa in May 1961, where he spoke to Parliament.

On November 23, 1983, MPs passed a motion to express condolences on behalf of Canadians on the 20th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.

-Andrew Thomson

TOP PHOTO: U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Governor General Georges P. Vanier, and Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker at Rideau Hall on May 16, 1961 for a commemorative tree-planting ceremony. Library and Archives Canada/Government of Canada