"I am a Canadian,
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
HM PM John Diefenbaker is a personal hero of mine. A conservative, a staunch defender of the Crown and because of that a staunch defender of human rights. I was suprised to see this in the red star. He is truly a great man.
Upon John Diefenbaker’s death in 1979 it was one of his successors as prime minister who summed up the Prairie populist’s greatest achievement.
“I was struck,” Pierre Trudeau said, “by his vigorous defence of human rights and individual liberties. The Bill of Rights remains a monument to him.”
August 10 is the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Bill of Rights. Had this lifelong dream of Diefenbaker’s not become a reality, one could argue that Trudeau’s own Charter of Rights might not have come into being.
It is indeed a monument to Diefenbaker. Quite rightly, the statue of our 13th prime minister on Parliament Hill portrays Diefenbaker staring defiantly forward as he clutches his Bill of Rights.
Thanks to the tireless work by Diefenbaker — a former defence lawyer, a Canadian of non-French or English origins, and a child of the Prairie west who knew discrimination and had witnessed injustice far too many times in his life — who began calling for a declaration by Parliament of the fundamental rights, freedoms and responsibilities of Canadians from the moment he was first elected in 1940, these crucial issues were put on the nation’s agenda.