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Diefenbaker’s sales pitch, 1958

The Story

July 14, 1958: For the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister will step in front of a television camera to make a direct address to the nation. Seeking to consolidate over 40 per cent of the country's national debt and reduce the pressure of a billion-dollar bond market, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Finance Minister Donald Fleming will appear on radio and TV networks across the country tonight to sell the new Canada Conversion Loan program. Canadians own nearly $6.5 billion in bonds that will mature within the next three years, a crushing payout for a country already in debt. Diefenbaker urges Canadians to invest for the long term, to help both Canada and themselves. In this news report, which aired just before his address, CBC Radio previews the prime minister's sales pitch and the "biggest financial operation in the nation's history."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: July 14, 1958
Guests: Hazen Argue, Donald Fleming, Lester B. Pearson
Announcer: Harry Mannis
Reporter: Phil Calder
Duration: 2:58
Photo: Chuck Mitchell/Canadian Press

Did You know?

• The Canada Conversion Loan offered Canadians the chance to exchange unmatured Victory Bonds for longer-term savings bonds with higher interest rates. Victory Bonds offered a three per cent interest rate, whereas the news bonds offered as much as 4.5 per cent for as long as 25 years.

• Diefenbaker's address appeared on all but five of the country's TV stations, part of a blanket advertising campaign for the bond program. The ad blitz included full-page newspaper ads and special TV broadcasts with Diefenbaker, Finance Minister Donald Fleming and several bank presidents and investors. The campaign was projected to cost $375,000, which would amount to over $2.8 million in 2008.

• Adjusted for inflation, the $6.4 billion that the unmatured Victory Bonds were worth amounts to $47.8 billion in 2008.



Addressing the Nation: Prime Ministers of Canada more