rstanfield.jpgRobert Lorne Stanfield, the conservative leader who was known among colleagues as “the greatest prime minister Canada never had,” died on Dec. 16. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.
Born in Nova Scotia, Stanfield graduated from Dalhousie University and Harvard Law School. Admired for his intelligence and wit, the Red Tory entered Nova Scotia politics at a time when the Conservatives did not hold a single seat in the legislature.
Stanfield was elected leader of the party in 1948 and began working to increase its participation in the political process. In 1956, he became the country’s youngest premier at the age of 41, was reelected several times, then led the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1967 to 1976. Although Stanfield was eager to become Canada’s 15th prime minister, his slow speaking manner and awkward style fared poorly against Liberal leader Pierre Trudeau.
Stanfield achieved an international reputation in 1979 when he relinquished his Commons seat to serve as Canada’s representative to the Middle East and North Africa. He later spent four years as chairman of The Commonwealth Foundation.
“His legacy was one of quiet conservatism, that gentle, patrician attitude that individuals and parts of the country that were successful had an obligation to put something back into the community,” said political scientist Leonard Preyra.