Dief The Chief

 

One of the more insightful tributes to our 13th prime minister John Diefenbaker  the first master of mass communication in Canadian politics.

source Montréal Gazette

While the 1960 Bill of Rights did not have the entrenched constitutional character of the 1982 Charter of Rights, many key provisions of the Charter were first articulated in the Bill of Rights.More than a decade before official bilingualism, Diefenbaker made government cheques bilingual, and introduced simultaneous translation to the House of Commons.The themes of diversity and empowerment were found in the appointment of the first woman, Ellen Fairclough, to Cabinet. He gave aboriginal Canadians the right to vote without losing their treaty status. When Mulroney campaigned against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, using the Commonwealth as his platform, he was taking a page from Dief, a quarter century earlier.Diefenbaker’s appointment of the Hall Commission, led by Saskatchewan Judge Emmett Hall, was a landmark that led directly to medicare.The Glassco Commission reshaped the organization and administration of the federal government. The Bladen Commission led to the Auto Pact.A decade before Pierre Trudeau’s recognition of Red China, Diefenbaker opened the door with wheat sales.And then there was his northern vision, with its Roads to Resources program. Half a century later, Harper has made Arctic sovereignty, sustainable development, and the autonomy of northern peoples a centrepiece of his policy agenda.