BTC: In search of our own Obama(s)

by Aaron Wherry

Recent Canadian history is not entirely bereft of above-average speeches. It just takes a bit of a think to remember the good ones.In the afterglow of Barack Obama’s remarks, various students of the game here were asked to identify the best recent examples of public oratory. All nominated speeches had to have been delivered after Jan. 1, 2000. To the submissions of our experts, I’ve added three—Jean Chretien speaking after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bono speaking at the Liberal convention in 2003 and the current Prime Minister declaring the Quebecois a nation. One suggestion—Brian Mulroney’s speech to the 2003 Progressive Conservative convention—does not appear to be available online.  

All links are to text copies of the speech in question. Except Bob Rae’s, for which, at least conceivably, no such script exists.

Other suggestions are welcome and will be posted here as they come in.

Joe Clark on the death of Pierre Trudeau. Sept. 29, 2000.
“Not every politician is lucky in his timing. Pierre Trudeau was.”

Jean Chretien on terrorism. Sept. 17, 2001.
“Let us not deceive ourselves as to the nature of the threat that faces us and that this can be defeated easily or simply with one swift strike.”

Stephen Lewis on Africa. June 21, 2002.
“It’s painful to be so skeptical. But history dictates that judgement be suspended until we see what happens twixt cup and lip.”

Paul Martin accepts the Liberal leadership. Nov. 14, 2003.
“Our challenge now is to show the way and to shape the course. For I believe that Canada is ready to achieve its promise, and that in these next few years we can make history.”

Bono on Africa. Nov. 14, 2003.
“Africa is a continent in flames. And, as we all know, fires tend to spread.”

Paul Martin on same-sex marriage
. Feb. 16, 2005
“I rise today in support of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. I rise in support of a Canada in which liberties are safeguarded, rights are protected and the people of this land are treated as equals under the law.”

Michael Ignatieff on Canada. Mar. 30, 2006.
“We are a serious people. For a long time, however, we haven’t taken ourselves seriously enough. We need to ask more of ourselves.”

Stephen Harper on Quebec. Nov. 22, 2006.
“Do the Québécois form a nation independent of Canada? The answer is no, and it will always be no.”

Bob Rae at the Liberal leadership convention
. Dec. 1, 2006.
“The Liberal Party has succeeded because it has been able to find itself in the heartland of Canada, and its values have always reflected the values of Canadians.”

Stephen Harper addresses the Australian parliament
. Sept. 11, 2007
“This cause is noble and necessary. Because, as 9-11 showed, if we abandon our fellow human beings to lives of poverty, brutality and ignorance, in today’s global village their misery will eventually and inevitably become our own.”

BTC: In search of our own Obama(s)

  1. Clark's speech was wonderfully decent. So, to be honest, was Duceppe's.

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