The Chief Gave Life To Rights

By Jonathon Van Maren

“I am Canadian,” John G. Diefenbaker famously declared, “free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

It is a testament to Liberal hegemony that Diefenbaker, our 13th prime minister familiarly known as The Chief, is rarely recognized as a human rights icon. Those of us subjected to years of Canadian “social studies” must be forgiven for knowing almost nothing about him (I remember only a mention of his cancellation of the Avro Arrow.) The populist lawyer from Saskatchewan who led the Progressive Conservatives to the largest majority government in Canadian history in 1958 was almost never mentioned. Neither was the fact that his entire career was dedicated to the promotion and preservation of human rights.


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