Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times

Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times

Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times

Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times

Excerpt

If in one sense a statesman's contemporaries, even after death has abated the storm and temper of faction, can scarcely judge him, yet in another sense they who breathe the same air as he breathed, who know at close quarters the problems that faced him, the materials with which he had to work, the limitation of his time--such must be the best, if not the only true memorialists and recorders.--John Morley: Life of Gladstone.

The writing of this memoir has been to me a labour of love and an obligation of friendship. It is an attempt to do inadequately for Sir Clifford Sifton what he was often urged to do for himself. In his conversations he would often review the reasons for his policies and the purposes he sought to serve by them. He was urged to reduce these to memoranda which would be available later for publication. He was indifferent to the suggestion. His position was that his acts and policies spoke for themselves, and that misunderstandings about them were of no consequence. They would pass. If they did not it would not very greatly matter. In life he did not consciously seek popularity; of still less concern to him was the judgment of posterity. He spoke sometimes of the irrationality of many of the attacks made upon him. "It seems to me," he once said, "that most of the things that I was abused about were easily defensible as in the public interest. Some things that I rather expected to be taken to task about passed unnoticed, or earned me commendation."

His refusal to take notice of much that was said was part of his philosophy of life. "Ignore all whispering cam . . .

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