Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, 62, flew to Quebec City one snowy day last week to notify Governor General Vincent Massey of his intention to dissolve Parliament, call a new national election. In a dramatic scene in the House of Commons that evening, Diefenbaker set the election for March 31.

Only the exact timing of Diefenbaker's move came as a surprise. The 23rd Parliament was assured a short life when the voters last June failed to give any party a ruling majority; Diefenbaker's Tories were merely the largest bloc with 113 of the House of Commons' 265 seats. But Diefenbaker...

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