Diefenbaker, John George
Degree conferred: Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Orator: Cattley, Robert E.D.
JOHN GEORGE DIEFENBAKER
to be Doctor of Laws
Before you stands, at the high noon of his political career and the zenith of his own vibrant powers, the Prime Minister of Canada.
Never has this University honoured a national leader who commanded so sweeping a majority or owed that majority more to his own talents and personality.
His is an awesome eminence. The very magnitude of his final victory, which brought to the Country the ambiguous blessings of two-party government, has left his opposition shattered and decimated. The Liberals, of course, will rally. Let us hope that they will rally and so provide that vigorous opposition without which there is no lasting political health.
But the virtual elimination of the splinter parties, however salutary to the stability of the system, has removed from the arena at least four tried and valiant opponents whom the House, as the Prime Minister would be the first to admit, can ill afford to be without.
What of the man himself to whose character more than to any single other factor is due this decisive mandate? The Prairie lawyer, who won his first and probably hardest case in the year he graduated from Law School, is a man of singleness of purpose, inflexible determination and a terrifying honesty.
His family was Liberal, and he had his own mind made up since the age of five to enter Parliament. Two celebrated Liberal Prime Ministers seem, the one to have shaped and the other to have explained away the Diefenbaker destiny, which was to be Conservative. There was Sir Wilfrid Laurier (the story may be apocryphal), who once overtipped
him when a newsboy on a station platform and whom he has admired, for less fiscal reasons, ever since; and Mr. Mackenzie King, who felt that Diefenbaker was a natural Liberal who had strayed among the Tories.
But once in, party was to be subservient to purpose. If the autocratic Liberal phalanx yielded ground before his one-handed smitings, the Bay Street Colonels also felt the prick of his lance. Quebec the impregnable he won by diplomacy. And now with his warriors at his back he has launched his crusade for the Greater Canada of his dreams, and has made his first campaign the raising of a long siege and the bringing of relief, where relief was most needed, to the beleaguered and underprivileged Atlantic Provinces.
As long as there are tyrannies to lay low, and rights of Commonwealth, nation, province or the common man to be asserted and safe-guarded, so long may he point that dread finger, thump that powerful fist, flash those steel-blue eyes and the 'Storm from the West' keep rolling on and in.
Cattley, Robert E.D. Honoris causa: the effervescences of a university orator. Fredericton: UNB Associated Alumnae, 1968.
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