Speeches That Changed Canada

Author and former MP Dennis Gruending looks closely at dramatic speeches from 11 of Canada’s finest political orators. He begins with John A. Macdonald arguing Confederation into being in 1865, and ends with Chief Joseph Gosnell’s powerful address in favour of the Nisga’a Treaty in 1998.

The book also contains Louis Riel’s speech to the jury; Wilfrid Laurier’s warning the Catholic clergy to stay out of politics; Nellie McClung’s demand that women receive the vote; Agnes Macphail’s call for political reforms and the full equality of women; Arthur Meighen’s divisive speech on military conscription; Richard Bennett’s attempt to give Canada a new deal during the Depression; Tommy Douglas introducing Medicare; Lester Pearson’s epic debates with John Diefenbaker over a new flag for Canada; and Pierre Trudeau’s ‘No’ to Quebec separatism during the 1980 referendum campaign.

Dennis describes the rich historical context in which a speech was delivered and analyzes the rhetorical techniques employed by speakers to win over their audiences. Finally, Dennis examines every speech’s immediate and long term impact upon Canada and Canadians

Speeches That Changed Canada is a welcome companion to anyone interested in Canadian history, politics, literature and rhetoric. It will also be a useful source and guide for those who write speeches or deliver them.

Pierre Trudeau opposing Quebec separatism:
“We are going to say to those who want us to stop being Canadians, we are going to say a resounding, an overwhelming o.”

Speeches That Changed Canada can be purchased directly from Fitzhenry & Whiteside.  The book is being sold by the Chapters-Indigo chain, in their Canadian History section, and by many independent bookstores, including McNally Robinson in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. The title can also be ordered from Amazon.ca.


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