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A Real Companion and Friend:
The diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King

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Behind the Diary

A King's Who's Who Biographies

Norman Platt Lambert (1885-1965)

Norman Platt Lambert, ca. 1942-1948


Norman Platt Lambert, ca. 1942-1948

A journalist with experience in agriculture, Norman Lambert was appointed General Secretary and Chief Organizer of the newly created National Liberal Federation (NLF) in 1932. From 1936 to 1941, he served as President of the NLF. After that, he was responsible for managing the finances of the Federation, a position that gave him access and influence in the highest levels of the Liberal Party. He became a senator in 1938.

Norman Lambert was born in Mount Forest, Ontario, on January 7, 1885. After graduating with a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1909, he joined the Toronto Globe as a staff writer, where he remained until 1918. He left that year, and moved to Winnipeg to accept the positions of Secretary for the Canadian Council of Agriculture and Associate Editor of the Grain Growers Guide. In 1922, the United Farmers of Manitoba offered him the leadership position in their organization. He turned it down, and also resigned from the Canadian Council of Agriculture. Instead, he accepted the appointment of Western Manager and Acting General Manager of the Manitoba Maple Leaf Milling Company. In 1930, he returned to his journalistic roots, and took on a second job, as a correspondent for the Toronto Globe. He quit both of these jobs in 1932, when approached by the National Liberal Federation (NLF).

The NLF was created in 1932 out of the ashes of the Beauharnois Affair. After the death of Senator Andrew Haydon in 1932, the NLF appointed Lambert to the positions of General Secretary and Chief Organizer. He was viewed as a man with a good temperament and much experience. In his work as a journalist and as Secretary of the Canadian Council of Agriculture, he had developed a political and publicity-minded awareness that was needed to bring the many provincial Liberal organizations together. He remained in this position until 1936, when he was appointed President of the NLF, a position he maintained until 1941. King rewarded Lambert for his work by appointing him to the Senate on January 20, 1938. On that day, in his diary, King noted: "During the forenoon, I concluded it would be a wise thing to appoint Lambert to the Senate forthwith, as likely to strengthen his authority as the head of the National Liberal Federation. Also it seemed to me appropriate to make this appointment at the same time as appointing Duncan Marshall. It would be apparent that both appointments related to political services to the party on the part of each over a number of years. Moreover, both have had to do with Agriculture. I felt too that making Lambert's appointment at once would give an effective reply to others in Ottawa who are seeking appointment, and whom it would not be possible to appoint. Lambert's appointment and Marshall's are the only two that I have made in my life, with respect to which I had given some prior undertaking." (Diary, January 20, 1938)

Following his tenure as President, Lambert was responsible for managing some of the finances of the Federation, a role that gave him access and influence in the highest levels of the Liberal Party. In addition, he served as Director of the Liberal Realty Company. In the course of the latter two roles, he was instrumental in obtaining a new headquarters building for the Federation. He died in Ottawa on November 4, 1965.

Library and Archives Canada holds the records of Norman Lambert (MG32-C85).

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