Diefenbaker "free and easy"

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: A Guardian article about former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker caught my attention and I feel an urge to respond. Diefenbaker, married twice, had not fathered children with either wife. DNA tests may have likely confirmed Diefenbaker fatherd two sons outside of his marriages, leaving a living legacy of three adult grandsons.

Part of the article reads: "At the time, Diefenbaker was having marital difficulties," according to Simma Holt's biography of his first wife, Edna. "His eye apparently rested on his housekeeper, described as 'free and easy.' The housekeeper was sent to Bethany House (a home for unwed mothers) in Saskatoon where she gave birth to 'little John'. The baby was given up for adoption." In defence of the housekeepr, in my opinion, it's Diefenbaker who was 'free and easy,' possibly fathering two children outside of his marriages.

Sexual stereotyping in the 19th and 20th centuries still exists today. We, unwed mothers, are not 'free and easy' luring men astray. Too many men father children and then ignore their parental obligations, forcing the mothers to surrender their babies for adoption or raise their children, most times, with limited financial resources.

I am surmising Diefenbaker knew he had impregnated the women and took no responsibility for fathering two sons. It's a much too common story that is centuries old. Judging public eyes chastise and label unwed mothers while the fathers take their rightful place in society, such as Diefenbaker.

Should Diefenbaker take his rightful place in history as a political Canadian icon or stand behind a long line-up of daddies-in-denial?

Stella Shepard,


Organizations: Bethany House

Geographic location: Saskatoon

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