Policies in Transition
"...l [accepted cases]... where I thought someone’s rights were being violated... From the beginning of my practice, I never charged a Métis or an Indian who came to me for advice. I was distressed by their conditions, the unbelievable poverty, and the injustice done them. "
Diefenbaker thought that all citizens were entitled to certain essential rights, despite cultural differences, and First Nations were no exception. Throughout Diefenbaker’s political career, his government took steps to create harmony between the Federal Government and First Nations.
The Diefenbaker government’s key achievement in Aboriginal affairs was the extension of the franchise. Initially, First Nations, as federal “wards,” were not allowed to vote in federal elections. In 1960, Diefenbaker’s government amended Section 14 of the Canada Elections Act, finally giving First Nations the opportunity to vote in 1962.