PM Stephen Harper is retracing the plan of a previous PM who believed in a strong united Canada. Will Canadians embrace him as they did PM John G. Diefenbaker in 1958?
The 1958 election campaign saw a huge outpouring of public support for the Progressive Conservatives. At the opening campaign rally in Winnipeg on February 12, voters filled the hall until the doors had to be closed for safety reasons. They were promptly broken down by the crowd outside. At the rally, Diefenbaker called for "[a] new vision. A new hope. A new soul for Canada." He pledged to open the Canadian North, to seek out its resources and make it a place for settlements. The conclusion to his speech expounded on what became known as "The Vision",
Pierre Sévigny, who would be elected an MP in 1958, recalled the gathering, "When he had finished that speech, as he was walking to the door, I saw people kneel and kiss his coat. Not one, but many. People were in tears. People were delirious. And this happened many a time after." When Sévigny introduced Diefenbaker to a Montreal rally with the words "Levez-vous, levez-vous, saluez votre chef!" (Rise, rise, salute your chief!) according to Postmaster General William Hamilton "thousands and thousands of people, jammed into that auditorium, just tore the roof off in a frenzy". Michael Starr remembered, "That was the most fantastic election ... I went into little places. Smoky Lake, Alberta, where nobody ever saw a minister. Canora, Saskatchewan. Every meeting was jammed ... The halls would be filled with people and sitting there in the front would be the first Ukrainian immigrants with shawls and hands gnarled from work ... I would switch to Ukrainian and the tears would start to run down their faces ... I don't care who says what won the election; it was the emotional aspect that really caught on."
John Diefenbaker's Northern Vision
"A New Vision" speech by John G. Diefenbaker at the Civic Auditorium, Winnipeg, 12 February 1958
Ladies and gentlemen, we started in the last few months, since June the 10th, to carry out our promises, and I can tell you this, that as long as I am Prime Minister of this country, the welfare of the average Canadian will not be forgotten. We intend to launch for the future, we have laid the foundations now, the long-range objectives of this party. We ask from you a mandate; a new and a stronger mandate, to pursue the planning and to carry to fruition our new national development programme for Canada. For years we raised that in the House of Commons, and those in authority ridiculed it. Day before yesterday, Mr. Pearson came out in favour of a national development policy. Why didn't they do it when they were in power?
This national development policy will create a new sense of national purpose and national destiny. One Canada. One Canada, wherein Canadians will have preserved to them the control of their own economic and political destiny. Sir John A. MacDonald gave his life to this party. He opened the West. He saw Canada from East to West. I see a new Canada - a Canada of the North. What are these new principles? What are our objectives? What do we propose? We propose to assist the provinces, with their co-operation, in the financing and construction of job-creating projects necessary for the new development, where such projects are beyond the resources of the provinces. We will assist the provinces with their cooperation in the conservation of the renewable natural resources. We will aid in projects which are self-liquidating. We will aid in projects which, while not self-liquidating will lead to the development of the national resources for the opening of Canada's northland. We will open that northland for development by improving transportation and communication and by the development of power, by the building of access roads. We will make an inventory of our hydroelectric potential.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now intend to bring in legislation to encourage progressively increasing processing of our domestic raw materials in Canada, rather than shipping them out in raw material form. We will ensure that Canada's national resources are used to benefit Canadians and that Canadians have an opportunity to participate in Canada's development. We have not discouraged foreign investment, but we will encourage the partnership of the foreign investors with the Canadian people....
Canadians, realize your opportunities! This is only the beginning. The future programme for the next five to seven years under a Progressive Conservative Government is one that is calculated to give young Canadians, motivated by a desire to serve, a lift in the heart, faith in Canada's future, faith in her destiny. We will extend aid to economically sound railway projects, such as the Pine Point Railroad to Great Slave Lake. That was promised day before yesterday in the Liberal platform. Why didn't they do it then?Yes, we will press for hydroelectric development of the Columbia River, which now awaits completion of an agreement with the United States. I mentioned the South Saskatchewan. These are the plans.This is the message I give to you my fellow Canadians, not one of defeatism. Jobs! Jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadian people. A new vision! A new hope! A new soul for Canada.
As far as the Arctic is concerned, how many of you here knew the pioneers in Western Canada. I saw the early days here. Here in Winnipeg in 1909, when the vast movement was taking place into the Western plains, they had imagination. There is a new imagination now. The Arctic. We intend to carry out the legislative programme of Arctic research, to develop Arctic routes, to develop those vast hidden resources the last few years have revealed. Plans to improve the St. Lawrence and the Hudson Bay route. Plans to increase self-government in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. We can see one or two provinces there.
Taxation adjustments to place Canadians on a more equal footing with foreign investors. Encourage foreign investors to make equity stock available to Canadians for purchase, to appoint Canadians to executive positions, to deny the present plan of certain American companies that do not give to Canadian plants their fair share of the export business. Those are some of the things we want to do.
It is for those things that I ask a mandate, not giving you tonight the whole picture at all, by any means but giving you something of the vision as I see it. The reason that I appeal to the Canadian people, a mandate for a clear majority. You set a pace for Manitoba last time. Give us a few more, this.
We need a clear majority to carry out this long-range plan, this great design, this blueprint for the Canada which her resources make possible.
I want to see Canadians given a transcending sense of national purpose, such as MacDonald gave in his day. To safeguard our independence, restore our unity, a policy that will scrupulously respect the rights of the provinces, and at the same time build for the achievement of that one Canada, is the major reason why 35 of our 119 members in the House of Commons are sufficiently young to belong to the Young Progressive Conservatives. They caught that vision. I am not here to condemn others. I am here for the purpose, as a Canadian, to give you a picture of the kind of Canada the long-range plans that we have in mind will bring about....
This party has become the party of national destiny. I hope it will be the party of vision and courage. The party of one Canada, with equal opportunities to all. The only party that can give to youth an Elizabethan sense of grand design - that's my challenge. The faith to venture with enthusiasm to the frontiers of a nation; that faith, that assurance that will be provided with a government strong enough to implement plans for development. To the young men and women of this nation I say, Canada is within your hands. Adventure. Adventure to the nation's utmost bounds, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. The policies that will be placed before the people of Canada in this campaign will be ones that will ensure that today and this century will belong to Canada. The destination is one Canada. To that end I dedicate this party.
High modernism in the Arctic: planning Frobisher Bay and Inuvik
If Frobisher and Inuvik were, as the Inuvik plaque reads, designed to provide the ‘normal facilities of a Canadian town’, the much smaller DEW Line stations, scattered from Alaska to Greenland, were also normalizing spaces, where southern workers on a six-month or year-long tour could enjoy familiar food, movies, and other comforts, in an attempt to distract them from the harsh difference of the Arctic environment and the psychological and physiological challenges that this contrast presented. Although DEW communities tended to be very small, the Line still had profound consequences for the geography of settlement across the Arctic, as nativenortherners (overwhelmingly men) flocked to radar sites in search of paid work.137 In a hamlet like Tuktoyaktuk, a short distance from Inuvik, where the population is about 800, and where an upgraded North Warning System station still stands on the original DEW Line land, nearly every resident can list several family members, dating back two or three generations, who were associated in some way with Arctic radar construction and operation. A 1966 report described a decade-long transition in Tuktoyaktuk from an economy based on ‘hunting, fishing and trapping to one of wage employment’.138
In a 1983 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio interview marking Inuvik’s 25th anniversary, Gordon Robertson acknowledged the presence of segregation, but attributed it to an ‘economic accident’, even as he defended the original desire to construct a modern community free of division. His fellow interviewee Eric Nielsen, a longtime Yukon Member of Parliament, added that ‘mistakes were made because southern Canadians were making the decisions’.108