Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech

While this website highlights Canadian speeches and rhetoric, this posting commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of history’s great orators, who was murdered fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968. King was the son of an American Baptist minister and he, too, became a minister in Montgomery, Alabama. Inspired by Scripture and Mahatma Gandhi,... Continue Reading →

George Erasmus on self-government, 1990

In June 1990, the Meech Lake Accord failed when Aboriginal leader and Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper refused to give the necessary unanimous consent for his province to approve. The Assembly of First Nations also opposed the accord not least because it continued to focus upon the French and English as Canada’s founding nations. AFN chief... Continue Reading →

Foreign Voices in the House

Until recently there were very few anthologies of Canadian speeches. There existed, to be sure, collections by this or that prime minister gathered by himself or his friends, but there was a dearth of more inclusive anthologies such as existed in the U.S., Great Britain and even Australia. That has begun to change. My book,... Continue Reading →

John A. Macdonald, yes to Confederation, 1865

In 1864, the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland planned to meet in Charlottetown to investigate a union among the British Maritime colonies. John A Macdonald and other representatives from Upper and Lower Canada invited themselves to the meeting and arrived by steamship. They proposed a wider union which would include... Continue Reading →

Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Canadian nationality, 1862

This is a fitting speech as Canada winds down its 150th year since Confederation. Thomas D’Arcy McGee was one of the great pre-Confederation orators. This speech, urging the creation of a new Canadian nationality, was delivered three years prior to conferences in Charlottetown and Quebec City, which negotiated the details of Confederation. McGee came to Canada from Ireland... Continue Reading →

Romeo Saganash on Indigenous rights, 2017

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007. Its recurring theme is that Indigenous peoples have the right to dignity and self-determination, and that no actions regarding their persons or lands should be taken without their “free, prior and informed consent.” Canada became a signatory in 2014, but the... Continue Reading →

Monique Bégin on patriarchy, 2017

Maclean’s magazine hosted its annual Parliamentarians of the Year Award in Ottawa early in November 2017. The magazine presented a lifetime achievement award to Monique Bégin, who served as an influential cabinet minister in Pierre Trudeau’s governments, most notably as the minister of health and welfare. After leaving politics in 1984, Bégin pursued an academic career, including... Continue Reading →

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