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 →

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 →

Nelson Mandela thanks Canada, 1998

In February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in a South African prison. He was later to become president of that nation. He is also one of only five people ever to have been granted honourary Canadian citizenship. He first addressed the Canadian Parliament in 1990, not long after his release from prison.... Continue Reading →

Muriel Kitagawa on Japanese internment, 1945

During the second World War, the government considered Canadians of Japanese origin to be security risks. Beginning in 1942, the government forcibly moved 22,000 men, women and children away from coastal areas in British Columbia and interned them in camps in the interior. The Japanese had few public defenders as wartime opinion formed against them.... Continue Reading →

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 →

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

. 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 girls. On October 18,... Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →

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