Setting the Bar
"In my days as a young lawyer I began the drafting of a Canadian Bill of Rights" (John Diefenbaker,, One Canada, Volume Two, 208). Early in his career, Diefenbaker was an advocate for minorities and a proponent of civil rights. One of his first widely-publicised court cases involved two school trustees from the Ethier School District: Rémi Ethier and Léger Boutin. The men had been charged of violating the Saskatchewan School Act by allowing classes to be taught in French. Diefenbaker was successful as their counsel in appealing the accusation.
Within the first four years of his law practice in Wakaw, Saskatchewan, Diefenbaker “dominated [the] legal business" in the area of human rights. (Denis Smith, Rogue Tory, 41) Few people were able to secure legal council for human rights claims, as they were incredibly costly. To ensure individuals were guaranteed their rights, Diefenbaker made special efforts to undertake legal cases involving violations of individual rights. In such situations, it was rare that legal fees would be collected on time, if at all.
"As a young boy, I had set my mind on becoming a lawyer. My ambition was now realized. What my boyish determination had not included was an understanding that a call to the bar was a beginning, not an end....”