The Canadian Bill of Rights

a virtual exhibition from the Diefenbaker Center Canada

“I am a Canadian, a free Canadian.”

“I am a Canadian, a free Canadian.”
The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker
The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker
Diefenbaker and delegate at Progressive Conservative annual general meeting, 1961
Diefenbaker and delegate at Progressive Conservative annual general meeting, 1961

This statement is found in the Canadian Bill of Rights, a piece of legislation which The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker acknowledged as one of his proudest achievements. The Canadian Bill of Rights was created in an effort to give Canadians of all backgrounds the same rights and privileges. To this day, the saying “I am Canadian” invokes strong sentiments based on the understanding that Canadian law acknowledges the equality of all citizens.

Diefenbaker signing the Bill of Rights
Diefenbaker signing the Bill of Rights

On l0 August 1960, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II granted Royal Assent to the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Bill represented a monumental step towards legitimizing the rights and privileges of all Canadians. 50 years later, the Bill is regarded as a declaration symbolizing a national history of dedication to civil liberties. This exhibit focuses on the Canadian Bill of Rights and Diefenbaker’s role in shaping what it means to be Canadian.

"I am 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 govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind. "

(John Diefenbaker, House of Commons Debates, 1 July 1960)

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