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• Thursday, December 02nd, 2010

“I am a Canadian,
free to speak without fear,
free to worship in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right,
free to oppose what I believe wrong,
or free to choose those
who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom
I pledge to uphold
for myself and all mankind.”

From the Canadian Bill of Rights,
July 1, 1960.

Today I was thinking back on a great Canadian, a man I had the privilege to meet and to have several conversations with when I was a young girl.

I grew up in Saskatchewan.  My mom and dad had a restaurant which was known for my it’s homemade soups and pies.  My mother was—and still is—an amazing cook.  Our restaurant was in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town between Saskatoon and Prince Albert called Waldheim.  It was a great place to grow up.

I remember many days, just sitting in the restaurant and listening to all the older Mennonite men discussing politics, farming and Church over a cup of coffee and a piece of pie.  And every once in a while this older man would come into our restaurant, invite me to sit with him and he would tell me stories.  He would tell me about his where he grew up, his life, his family and his country.  I considered him a friend, my friend John.

“I don’t campaign. I just visit with the people.”
- 1965 campaign picnic John Diefenbaker

My mom and dad eventually sold the restaurant.  On the last day we were open my friend John came in.  My mom was giving out free coffee to everyone,  but he didn’t drink coffee so my mother gave him an ice cream cone.  Before he left John gave me a button with his picture on it.   I still have that button.  This man was John Diefenbaker and he inspired me as a young girl, he challenged me and he gave me something I will always treasure….his time.

“As I go across the country, I meet older Canadians as well as the youth of our nation. I have always been very proud of them and I am more so with the passing of days. They want to do something for Canada. There are about 4 per cent who want to create trouble, but the rest are motivated by tremendous dedication to the building of Canada.”
- February 29, 1972, House of Commons John Diefenbaker

In making a decision to run for the Prince George Peace River Conservative nomination, I find myself thinking about “Dief the Chief” more and more. The thing about politics is that is for—and of—the people. That means you. Me. Us. John Diefenbaker understood that, he was an average Canadian and he represented the average Canadian.  He is someone that I have always respected and someone who I would use as an example of great leadership. Was he perfect? Far from it. But he talked to people. More importantly, he listened to people, and he strove to make this country a better place for all of us, no matter what our political leaning.

“I was criticized for being too much concerned with the average Canadians. I can’t help that; I am one of them!”
- September, 1967. Speech to PC convention John Diefenbaker

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