The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, 1970

The true legacy of the Canadian Bill of Rights lies not just in its creation and historic enactment in 1960, but in the national awareness of human rights issues that it (D.C. Story, “The Diefenbaker Legacy: Canadian Politics, Law and Society Since 1957,” Regina, Canadian Plain Research Centre, 1998, 120) Despite the limitations that critics saw in the legislation, the Bill substantiated the equality of rights and freedoms for all Canadian citizens.

In 1995, on the hundredth anniversary of Diefenbaker's birth, the House of Commons Debates paid tribute to his monumental accomplishment:

“John Diefenbaker was one of those rare public figures who was larger than life and who remains larger than life. He helped define an entire era in our history. Like all Prime Ministers he left a mark on his country through his accomplishments in office, but like only a very few Prime Ministers he left a mark on our national psyche just by being the way he was. His style, his voice, his very presence have all become part of identity, part of our mythology."

Mr. Diefenbaker had qualities and faults, but we have to give him credit for supporting... efforts to reach Canadians in order to promote individual freedoms. At the time, he was criticized for not supporting the Official Languages Act, but let us not forget that it is thanks to him if bilingualism was introduced in several Canadian institutions. And while he did not agree with some specific initiatives, he was always convinced of the importance of protecting individual rights. There is no doubt that John Diefenbaker helped shape Canada...” (The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, Debates of Sept. 18th, 1995, House of Commons Hansard #225 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session).