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Robert Stanfield wins PC leadership

The Story

Robert Stanfield makes his start in federal politics with a political convention and a banana. In this famous television moment, the politician from Nova Scotia sits back and calmly eats lunch while waiting for the 1967 PC leadership results. A year later, this was his federal election campaign slogan: "The more you think about it ... Stanfield is the man." It referred to Stanfield's appeal with Canadians -- they admired the Conservative leader for being stable and reliable -- and for being unlike his charismatic Liberal opponent Pierre Elliott Trudeau. At the height of Trudeaumania, Stanfield didn't stand a chance of winning the federal election. Still, he became Trudeau's only real competition in 1968. Four years later Stanfield returned with a stunning achievement. He claimed 107 seats to Trudeau's 109 in the 1972 federal election.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 9, 1967
Reporter: Bill Copps
Duration: 1:19

Did You know?

• Robert Stanfield was born in Truro, N.S. on April 11, 1914. Before entering politics he studied law and was called to the bar in 1940.

• Stanfield started in provincial politics in 1946 and two years later became leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives. Stanfield also had a long run as premier of Nova Scotia, from 1956-1967.

• As federal leader Stanfield made party unity one of his main goals.

• By 1967, the PCs had become increasingly divided since Liberal Lester B. Pearson defeated John Diefenbaker in the 1963 federal election. In a backroom political move referred to in this clip, PC national president Dalton Camp created party infighting by pushing out Diefenbaker as leader.

• During the 1968 election, Stanfield's executive assistant, Joe Clark, who would later become prime minister, wrote speeches for the Conservative leader. Clark said, "He [Stanfield] was a very difficult man to write speeches for. He had almost disdain for stylistic [and] technical things."

• In election campaigns, Stanfield supported bilingualism and granting Quebec special status. He never managed to become prime minister and after losing three elections he quit federal politics in 1976.

• Until 1991 Stanfield was head of the Commonwealth Foundation -- a liaison organization of Commonwealth governments.

• A year later Stanfield became one of the few Canadians granted the title of "Right Honourable."

• Stanfield could not attend Trudeau's funeral in 2000 because a stroke had taken away most of his motor functions.

• Stanfield died in Ottawa on Dec. 16, 2003.


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