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National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in Canada on this date in 1983 to address members of Toronto’s storied Empire Club. Ontario Premier William Davis welcomed Mrs. Thatcher to the podium. “It is an honour for me to introduce to you,” he said, “not only a distinguished lady, not only a person who is head of government, but one who is maintaining for all of us in the world community a sense of stability, a sense of courage, but most importantly, a real direction of leadership. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”

Prime Minister Thatcher, who had spoken at the same podium in 1975, brought her conservative message of lower taxes, deregulation and government restraint with her.

“Now, yesterday, in Parliament, I spoke about our great tradition of political and personal freedom and what we need to defend it,” she said. “But economic freedom also has to be defended. It can be sapped insidiously and sometimes from the best of motives. Indeed, one of the hardest things in the world is to stand tall and to shoulder one’s own burden; one of the easiest is to succumb to the temptation of believing that the state, that kind of imaginary mother-figure of our age, will be able to provide for all, to protect us from all harsh reality and to shoulder our burdens …. But the mother-figure can so easily end up not succoring but suffocating. And then energy is sapped, then initiative is stifled, and then enterprise is destroyed, and what started as a help can end up as a hindrance, can end up as an obstacle to the acquisition of the very things which it intended to provide.”

“So many of the older developed industrialized countries have trodden, and, indeed, are treading this path. Britain most certainly has, but so have many others,” Thatcher continued. “And we’ve had to learn the lesson that a higher standard of living comes not from the state but from our own endeavours.”

You can read the British Prime Minister’s entire address at the link below.



Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on National Newswatch are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
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