John George Diefenbaker on politics and Parliament

  • 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 for myself and all mankind.
  • Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.”
  • As long as there is a drop of blood in my body they won’t stop me from talking about freedom.
  • Freedom includes the right to say what others may object to and resent… The essence of citizenship is to be tolerant of strong and provocative words.
  • I am the first Prime Minister of this country of neither altogether English nor French origin. So I determined to bring about a Canadian citizenship that knew no hyphenated consideration.
  • I have one love – Canada; one purpose – Canada’s greatness; one aim – Canadian unity from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
  • The object of Confederation was not to produce Siamese twins in this nation.
  • We shall never build the nation which our potential resources make possible by dividing ourselves into Anglophones, Francophones, multiculturalphones, or whatever kind of phoneys you choose. I say: Canadians, first, last, and always!
  • I believe there must not be, as has been developing in this nation, first and second class citizens. That has been the trend as a result of all the discussion about associated states and a nation within a nation.
  • I am the first prime minister of this country of neither altogether English or French origin. So I determined to bring about a Canadian citizenship that knew no hyphenated consideration….I’m very happy to be able to say that in the House of Commons today in my party we have members of Italian, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Chinese and Ukrainian origin — and they are all Canadians.
  • I am not anti-American. But I am strongly pro-Canadian.
  • We shall be Canadians first, foremost, and always, and our policies will be decided in Canada and not dictated by any other country.
  • Some say to me: ‘History? What does it mean? What are you concerned about the past for?’ And my answer to that is a simple one – he who does not know the past can never understand the present, and he certainly can do nothing for the future.
  • There can be no dedication to Canada’s future without a knowledge of its past.
  • Macdonald is as vital a personality today, as if he were alive. He has been able to transmit his natural vision for this country to all Canadian leaders who followed him, regardless of their party.
  • I have always been a House of Commons man.
  • Governments propose, and oppositions dispose.
  • The duty of the Opposition is to turn out the government.
  • Our paramount consideration as members of the opposition must be to refrain from obstructive criticism and fearlessly to offer constructive criticism.
  • Without an Opposition, it is not too much to say, the parliamentary system of government would fail in its primary task of protecting the rights of individuals and minorities, and of ensuring freedom and democracy.
  • Oppositions cleanse and purify those in office and we in the opposition are in fact the “detergents of democracy.”
  • Parliament is more than procedure – it is the custodian of the nation’s freedom.
  • A question which can be answered without prejudice to the government is not a fit question to ask.
  • Parliament is a place where gentlemen meet and what passed between them is not made public.
  • The quality of debate in the House is deplorable. You watch today and count how many read from prepared texts.

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