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 →

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Tommy Douglas, October crisis, 1970

NDP leader Tommy Douglas, circa 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... Continue Reading →

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 →

Mary Eberts, Persons Case anniversary, 1990

Mary Eberts, the Persons Case. Lawyer and legal scholar Mary Eberts was a founder of LEAF ( Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund). The organization was created in 1985 to ensure Canadian courts protect the equality provisions Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. LEAF has often appeared in courts to advance equality for women and... Continue Reading →

Paul Martin, hell or high water budget 1995

Paul Martin became the Liberal government's finance minister in 1993 and was soon convinced that Canada’s deficit and debt were unmanageable. On February 27, 1995, he introduced a budget that chopped social programs, unemployment insurance, and transfers to the provinces for health care, education, and social assistance. The battle for public opinion was fierce. Martin... Continue Reading →

Lionel Groulx, no to bilingualism, 1943

Abbé Lionel Groulx was a priest, an historian and a leading Quebec intellectual until his death in 1967. He was described by some as the spiritual father of Quebec and by others as a messianic nationalist. Groulx preferred isolation to closer French-English relations and was opposed to bilingualism. He gave this speech in Montreal in... Continue Reading →

John Diefenbaker, a new national policy, 1957

John Diefenbaker, Canada’s 13th prime minister died this month in 1979. He was one of Canada’s finest political orators and election campaigners. He became leader of the Progressive Conservatives in 1956, and six months later the governing Liberals called an election. A young economist named Merril Menzies sent Diefenbaker a series of memos proposing a... Continue Reading →

Joseph Gosnell, 1998, Nisga’a Treaty

The Nisga’a have lived in what is now northwest British Columbia since time immemorial. They never signed a treaty or ceded their territory, but the province denied that Aboriginal title ever existed. The stalemate lasted for more than a century until in 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Aboriginal title did exist, had... Continue Reading →

Aaron Sapiro, Prairie wheat pools, August 1923

By the early 1900s Western Canadian farmers believed they were being exploited by private grain companies. Aaron Sapiro, an American lawyer from California, had helped to set up marketing cooperatives among farmers in the US.  In 1923, he did a speaking tour in the Prairies promoting cooperatives as a vehicle for farmers to buy and... Continue Reading →

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