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John Diefenbaker Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

In the year 1957, Canada elected its first Prime minister without English or French root, John Diefenbaker. While growing up in the city of Toronto, because of his German name, he was often teased. [1] He grew up as an outcast, and so he was able to relate to the discrimination and inequality many of the minorities in Canada felt. This essay will attempt to answer the question: To what extent did Prime Minister John Diefenbaker help promote equality to the minority communities. . The minorities in this time period were the women, aboriginals, and immigrants. During his time as the Prime Minister, he was able to help protect the rights of this group because many of their rights were being abused by the society. Diefenbaker also helped the minorities to stand up for themselves and other groups. Diefenbaker was able to bring positive change to the minority communities by making an official Bill of Rights and appointing people of discriminated groups to the parliament while other members did not.
John Diefenbaker was able to accomplish his main goal while he was in the Prime Minister’s chair. He was able to enact the Bill of rights “under which freedom of religion, of speech, of association…freedom from capricious arrest and freedom under the rule of law”. [2] He made it into an official document that would prevent the continuous abuse of the rights of many of the minority groups. He had seen the discrimination with his own eyes during his earlier years with the aboriginals, “[he] was distressed by their conditions, the unbelievable poverty and the injustice done them.”[3]
The Bill would prevent many injustice incidents such as the case with the Japanese citizens in 1942. During WWII, the government gov’t declared that all people of the Japanese ancestry are to be uprooted from their homes and businesses. [4] The citizens were seen as war aliens and were thought to be threats to Canada and its citizens. Therefore, their rights were ignored. With the creation of the Bill of Rights, it protects the rights of the citizens to prevent the government from discriminating people similarly. The Bill of Rights, Section 2 c states:
No law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to:
(c) Deprive a person who has been arrested or detained
(i) of the right to be informed promptly of the reason for his arrest or detention,
(ii) of the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay, or
(iii) of the remedy by way of habeas corpus for the determination of the validity of his detention and for his release if the detention is not lawful;[5]

This Bill would also allow people to practice their own religion. It would not have allowed the oppression of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Union Nationale’s reign in Quebec. With their Padlock law, they tried to “suppress the Jehovah’s Witnesses to uphold the catholic faith]”.[6] Along with other supporters, Diefenbaker helped the Witnesses fights against this oppression. The witnesses signed a petition to the...

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