On a cold February day 1965, Canada’s new maple leaf flag rose above the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill for the first time. The so-called Great Flag Debate had been long and acrimonious. Now, Prime Minister Lester Pearson made a brief speech. His political adversary John Diefenbaker, seated nearby, used a handkerchief to dab a tear from his eye.
John Diefenbaker on a new flag, 1964
Canada's new maple leaf flag was adopted in late 1964 after months of bitter political debate between Prime Minister Lester Pearson and Here is Diefenbaker's speech, which followed that of Pearson to kick off the flag debate in June 1964.
Lester Pearson on a new flag, 1964
Canada's new maple leaf flag was adopted in late 1964 after months of bitter political debate between Prime Minister Lester Pearson and Opposition leader John Diefenbaker. Here is Pearson's speech to launch the flag debate in June 1964.
Preston Manning, farewell, January 2001
Preston Manning founded the Reform Party of Canada in 1987. The party was reorganized as the Canadian Alliance in 2000. Manning lost the leadership contest to Stockwell Day but remained in parliament until his retirement in January 2002. This is his farewell speech.
Tommy Douglas, Mouseland, circa 1930s
CCF politician Tommy Douglas was masterful orator. One of his classic speeches is Mouseland, a drama in which mice keep voting against their better interests for either black or white cats. Douglas says that mice should vote for mice rather than fat cats.
Henri Bourassa, Francophone rights, 1905
Quebec politician Henri Bourassa was angered in 1905 when when it was proposed that existing French language rights should not be applied to the new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. He made this speech in the House of Commons.
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 →