Tommy Douglas, October crisis, 1970

Most Canadians supported Pierre Trudeau when he implemented the War Measures Act in October 1970, and an overwhelming majority of MPs supported him as well. But NDP leader Tommy Douglas and most of his caucus were opposed. Douglas said he was appalled by the kidnappings, but he believed that the government had enough powers to... Continue Reading →

Featured post

Pierre Trudeau, October crisis, 1970

In October 1970, the Front de Libération du Quebec, a separatist group, kidnapped Pierre Laporte, the province’s labour minister, and James Cross, a British diplomat. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act. On 16 October 1970, a sombre Trudeau appeared on national television to explain and defend his decision to citizens of the... Continue Reading →

Featured post

Speeches That Changed Canada, history from the podium

In Speeches That Changed Canada author and former MP Dennis Gruending has created a book that will be of interest to anyone who loves Canadian history, politics, literature and rhetoric. The book, released in April 2018 by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, will also be useful as a source and guide for teachers and students, and for... Continue Reading →

Featured post

Agnes Macphail on women’s equality, 1925, 1930

On December, 6, 1921 Agnes Macphail was the first woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons, and after taking her seat early in 1922 she encountered many taunts and inappropriate treatment. She was not intimidated, and insistently demanded the full equality of women. These are brief excerpts from speeches Macphail made in the House of... Continue Reading →

Featured post

Preston Manning, farewell, January 2001

Preston Manning, son of former Alberta Premier Ernest Manning, founded the Reform Party of Canada in 1987. It was a political vehicle of neo-conservatism and Western Canadian protest and it grew rapidly, forming the official opposition in 1997. Reform could not break out of its Western bastion, and in 2000 it reorganized as the Canadian... Continue Reading →

Tommy Douglas, Mouseland, circa 1930s

CCF politician Tommy Douglas was masterful orator who combined humour, sarcasm, irony, anecdote, and self-deprecation in ways that allowed him to become the country’s most effective popularizer of socialist ideas. Fellow MP Clarence Gillis first told the story of Mouseland and Douglas picked it up. It is a drama in which mice keep voting against... Continue Reading →

Henri Bourassa, Francophone rights, 1905

Henri Bourassa was a journalist and intellectual in turn-of-the-century Quebec. He was for a time a Liberal MP in Laurier’s caucus, but was increasingly bitter about compromises over French language rights. Bourassa made this speech in the House of Commons 1905, when it was proposed that existing French language rights should not be applied to... Continue Reading →

Irene Parlby, agrarian populism, 1921

Following the First World War, drought, low prices, and a general distrust of old line politicians gave rise to agrarian populist parties. They were anti-politician, agitating against rigid party discipline and patronage. They argued against protective tariffs, which they believed pampered Canadian industries, and in favour of free trade, which they said would benefit farmers.... Continue Reading →

Woodrow Lloyd on Medicare, 1962

Woodrow Lloyd was premier when Saskatchewan introduced North America’s first public, tax-funded health insurance program in July 1962. Saskatchewan’s doctors resisted, saying it was state medicine and would interfere with their relationships with patients. The tension reached a fever pitch by May 1962, when the doctors held their annual meeting in Regina. Lloyd walked into... Continue Reading →

Joseph Howe on press freedom, 1835

Joseph Howe was a self-taught printer and journalist in the colony of Nova Scotia. He used his newspaper, the Novascotian, to criticize the British colonial administration, a tightly managed club controlled by the governor and his friends. As a result of his criticisms, Howe was indicted in 1835 for criminal libel, and made this eloquent... Continue Reading →

Pierre Trudeau, no to Quebec sovereignty, 1980

Early in 1980, Premier René Lévesque and the Parti Quebecois launched a referendum on sovereignty association. Lévesque wanted voters to say yes to a sovereign Quebec that would form a commercial and trade association with the rest of Canada. Trudeau made only three campaign appearances, his last in the crowded, steaming Paul Sauvé arena in... Continue Reading →

Stephen Lewis and HIV/AIDS, 2002

Stephen Lewis is a consummate speaker who rarely uses scripts or even notes. A politician earlier in life, he later served as Canada’s ambassador to the UN, and later still as the UN’s unofficial ambassador to combat the spread of HIV/Aids in Africa. He gave this speech to a citizens’ forum in Calgary during the... Continue Reading →

Joe Clark, community of communities, 1979

Joe Clark had been involved in Progressive Conservative politics since childhood, and he won party leadership in 1976. He proposed a federation much more decentralized than that of Pierre Trudeau. Clark defined his concept of Canada as a “community of communities” in this speech during the federal election campaign in April 1979. “We are fundamentally... Continue Reading →

René Lévesque, Quebec sovereignty, 1980

The separatist Parti Quebecois won the 1976 election on a platform of Quebec sovereignty. Premier René Lévesque soon announced that there would be a referendum on sovereignty association in May 1980. He made this major speech in the Quebec Assembly on March 4, 1980. “The time has come to choose the path to our future”... Continue Reading →

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑