John Diefenbaker

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I am not anti-American. But I am strongly pro-Canadian.

John George Diefenbaker (18 September 189516 August 1979) was the 13th prime minister of Canada, serving from 1957 to 1963. Between 1930 and 1979, he was the only federal Progressive Conservative (PC or Tory) leader to lead the party to an election victory, doing so three times, although only once with a majority of seats in the House of Commons of Canada.


  • Well, Mr. Prime Minister, I can't waste any more time on you. I must get back to work.
    • From a conversation with Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier (29 July 1910) when Diefenbaker was 14; quoted in Canada's Prime Ministers, 1867 - 1994: Biographies and Anecdotes (Ottawa: National Archives of Canada, 1994).
  • Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.
    • March 11, 1958.
  • I have an intensive hatred for discrimination based on colour.
    • March 29, 1958, Maclean's.
  • I am not anti-American. But I am strongly pro-Canadian.
    • July 13, 1958, New York Times.
  • I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
    • July 1, 1960. From the Canadian Bill of Rights.
  • Everyone is against me - except the people!
    • Rallying cry of the 1963 election campaign.
  • There can be no dedication to Canada's future without a knowledge of its past.
    • "On Sir John A. Macdonald" Toronto Star (October 9, 1964)
  • I was criticized for being too much concerned with the average Canadians. I can't help that; I am one of them!
    • September, 1967. Speech to PC convention, quoted in I Never Say Anything Provocative by Wente, Margaret. (Toronto: Peter Martin Associates Limited, 1975.)
  • Some wonder why I have such a feeling of concern over the imposition of the death penalty. I ask those who wonder how would you feel if you defended a man charged with murder, who was as innocent as any hon. member in this House at this very moment, who was convicted; whose appeal was dismissed, who was executed; and six months later the star witness for the Crown admitted that he, himself, had committed the murder and blamed it on the accused? That experience will never be effaced from my memory.
    • May 1, 1972, House of Commons.
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