Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Four-time Nova Scotia Premier and former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party Robert Stanfield has died.

CBC News Reports:

Stanfield served as federal Conservative opposition leader from 1967 to 1976. He was known within the party as the greatest prime minister Canada never had.

He succeeded John Diefenbaker as leader after a bitter internal fight, but ran into the phenomenon of Trudeaumania in 1968. Known as a quiet humanitarian and a straight-talker, his slow-speaking style contrasted with Pierre Trudeau's youthful image.

"The greatest prime minister Canada never had" is probably an accurate way to sum up Stanfield. The wealth of political leadership the country had at that time was incredible. Consider that the Conservatives had Stanfield supported by Dalton Camp, the Liberals Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Leonard Peltier, and the NDP had Ed Broadbent. The contrast with today's leadership is particularly stark.

I also somewhat reluctantly point out that the death of one of the greatest leaders the PC party ever had comes at a time when the party has just completed effectively taking itself apart. I'm not usually one to look for omens but...

Also, with Bourque reporting that New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord is preparing to run for the leadership of the new Conservative party Stanfield's career may be instructive for Lord. Stanfield was one of the most successful Nova Scotian premiers ever but never quite made the transition to federal politics completely successful. Of course Paul Martin is not Pierre Trudeau, but neither, I susepect, is Lord another Stanfield.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:06 p.m.