Finally, in October of 1936, Diefenbaker threw his hat into the provincial Conservative leadership race and emerged triumphant. The victory, however, was hollow; the Conservative party was unable to win a single legislative seat in the 1938 provincial election.

Diefenbaker returned to the federal arena and in 1940 was rewarded by the constituents of Lake Centre with a seat in the House of Commons. Two years later, he ran for the leadership of the federal Conservative party and came third to John Bracken (who changed the party name to the Progressive Conservative Party). More determined than ever, Diefenbaker sought the leadership of his party in 1948, this time losing to Ontario Premier George Drew.

“I never once regarded a defeat as a termination. I have been beat often, but I have never been spiritually vanquished. The day after a defeat at the polls, I was always back at work. I never feel hurt or whipped.”

(Library, Saskatchewan. April 1960)