John Diefenbaker played a substantial role in Canada's history through his role as the leader of the Conservative party. He effectively changed Canadian society and remains an influence for modern day politicians. While in power as the Prime Minister he initiated many new movements towards equality and human rights both inside and outside of Canada. He also worked towards developing a prosperous economy and was successful in many of his ventures.
After examining all of John Diefenbaker's contributions to Canada there is no question that John Diefenbaker is an extremely important figure in Canadian history, which also explain why his legacy continues to live on through the society he helped form. As Prime Minister of Canada from June 21, 1957 until April 22, 1963, John Diefenbaker accomplished a lot for Canada, especially in terms of ethnic equality. Under the leadership of John Diefenbaker, the Conservatives received the greatest majority of seats to this date, which is an indicator of his unique ability to appeal to the average Canadian ("Collections Canada" 2007, pg.
1). Part of this ability would have come from his work as a defense lawyer, where he would represent poor clients. This obviously helped him develop a greater understanding of society's lower class, which would have strengthened his connection with the poor during the elections ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg. 1). John Diefenbaker received many awards due to his contributions so Canadian society. The majority of his recognition came in the form of honourary degrees, which are academic awards presented to an individual who is a distinguished member of society.
Over the course of his lifetime, Diefenbaker accumulated a total of thirty-six honourary degrees from universities in Canada as well as the United States ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg. 1). Throughout his reign as prime minister, John Diefenbaker brought about immense Change in Canada. As a result of John Diefenbaker's genuine concern for the "common man," he was motivated to treat all Canadians with equal rights, no matter their race or ethnic origin. He worked rigorously to implement change which benefited all Canadians equitably.
It was the leadership of John Diefenbaker which enabled Aboriginals to vote in federal elections, which was a large step forward for equality in Canada, giving Aboriginals a voice in the federal government ("Collections Canada" 2007, pg. 1). John Diefenbaker also made economic progress by introducing the Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Act, which was implemented to assist farmers across the country. He also established a new wheat market in China, which fueled demand in the farming industry, as well as worked towards reviving the Maritimes ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg.
1). He also appointed the first female Cabinet minister, which helped open the door to change in Canada's political structure ("Collections Canada" 2007, pg. 1). . Diefenbaker's role of promoting human rights was just as prominent inside Canada, as it was a outside of Canada, through his support for the independence of several Commonwealth countries. His support for human rights and equality caused him to oppose apartheid in South Africa, and refuse to assist the United States in the hostility towards Cuba.
It was because of John Diefenbaker's fundamental principles involving equality which inspired, and continues to inspire people to this day. He is still considered a "spiritual father" to the Conservative party due to his major contributions during his time in power. Many Conservative party members have based their political traditions, values and stances on Diefenbaker's principles. John Diefenbaker also influenced a young Pierre Trudeau with his decision to oppose the use of nuclear warheads on Bomarc missiles.
Many years later Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister, and one of his acts was to continue to phase out these missiles, as Diefenbaker had originally intended to. John Diefenbaker's impact as Prime Minister was immense, and he accomplished a great amount for Canada ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg. 1). He was able to drastically change Canadian society to support equality, and it is because of that, he continues to be a source of inspiration for today's politicians.
Due to John Diefenbaker's immense impact on Canada, his legacy continues to live on to this day. His immense success as Prime Minister drastically increased the popularity of the Conservative party, especially in the Western provinces. The Conservatives were able to maintain some of this increased popularity for a half-century. His principles continue to influence individuals, which includes individuals such as Pierre Trudeau, David Orchard and Heward Grafftey.
The late John Diefenbaker is remembered in numerous ways, through the immense amounts of awards and recognitions he has received. Diefenbaker's prominent role in Canada is recognized through Lake Diefenbaker (a lake name after the late prime minister), and John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (an airport named after the late prime minister). There were also parks, streets, elementary schools, secondary schools, and universities throughout Canada named after John Diefenbaker to recognize his contributions to Canada ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg.
1). He is also recognized through the John Diefenbaker Award which is given out by the Council for the Arts to a distinguished German scholar. The award enables the student to spend time in Canada and the United States in order to conduct research ("Canada Council" 2007, pg. 1). John Diefenbaker's legacy is remembered in many ways in Canadian society due to the important role he played as Prime Minister. John Diefenbaker's accomplishments, impact and legacy have and continue to shape Canada and its society.
As the leader of the Conservative party, Diefenbaker began a revolution which supported his fundamental principles of equality and human rights. Out of his love of the "common man" he changed many aspects of Canadian society and fought for the rights of those elsewhere in the world ("Wikipedia" 2007, pg. 1). He also brought economic wealth, addressing industries that required assistance, and focused on increasing output. John Diefenbaker was an inspiration to many, and it is because of his legacy, that he is such a prominent Canadian historical figure.
- First Among Equals, 2007, from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-3331-e.html
- John G. Diefenbaker Award, 2007, from http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/john_g_diefenbaker/bj127223040193593750.htm
- John Diefenbaker, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Diefenbaker
- Diefenbaker Web, 2007, from http://www.ggower.com/dief/
- The Diefenbaker Canada Centre, 2007, from http://www.usask.ca/diefenbaker/dhist.html
- Canada Info, 2007, from http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/government/diefenbaker.html