The Rt. Hon. Robert L. Stanfield's Unique Legacy

Sometimes referred to as “the best Prime Minister Canada never had,” Robert L. Stanfield was one of the nation’s most distinguished and respected statesmen. His career and legacy are defined by his integrity, intelligence and openness to other’s opinions, earning him the reputation of a “non-politician politician.”

As leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, Stanfield served as Premier of Nova Scotia for 11 years. During his time in office, he was credited with modernizing the province’s approach to education and healthcare delivery. In 1967, he became leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, proving himself a worthy opponent to Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Liberal government until he resigned in 1976. His commitment to Canadian unity, the health of the federation and official bilingualism was unfailing.

Throughout his political career, Stanfield was known for having a balanced perspective, understanding the importance of both human development and economic growth. In a 1976 interview with Maclean’s, he said, “Increasing the size of the GNP is important, but it is not in itself a sufficient goal for a civilized society.”

Honouring the man and his principles

Stanfield had the unique quality of allowing his principles and values to guide his political decisions. He was committed to doing what he thought was right or good for the county (or province) rather than what was popular or would win elections – a rare quality in politics.

In today’s high-speed political climate, where issues and challenges arise at a dizzying rate, there is a need for more of Stanfield’s thoughtful, ethically-guided approach. One that is founded in principles and puts a stronger and more civilized Canada above all else.

THE RT. HON. ROBERT L. STANFIELD LECTURES will not only honour this outstanding Canadian and his contribution to public life but highlight, for current and future leaders, the need for a vibrant democracy guided by integrity and decency.