Great Canadian Speeches

Fitzhenry & Whiteside (2004)

A thought-provoking collection of the finest speeches in Canadian history. The great orators are all here, from Joseph Howe in 1835 to Stephen Lewis in 2002. Dennis provides historical context, but also probes the content and technique to find out what makes these speeches great. A Canadian best seller.

Available in bookstores, or toll-free order: 1-800-387-9776 Toll-free fax: 1-800-260-9777. Email

Reviewer Comments

The book is really a history of Canada as seen from the podium.” Ottawa Citizen

“for anyone with an interest in Canada’s heritage, [this book] is a delight to dip into and

savour.” – Quill & Quire


Speech by Agnes Macphail, 1925

I want for myself what I want for other women, absolute equality

Agnes Macphail was the first woman elected to the House of Commons, and she took her seat early in 1922. She was quick, blunt, and at times sharply humourous, and almost always spoke without using prepared notes. She was best known for her commitment to full equality for women. Here she speaks in the House in a 1925 debate to modify the conditions for divorce, which until that time had been tilted entirely toward husbands.

It is a fact that all women contribute more to marriage than men; for the most part they have to change their place of living, their method of work, a great many women today changing their occupation entirely on marriage; and they must even change their name. They then work continuously for many years until death happily releases them, and that without wages at all. They work without pay. No one can claim that a married woman is economically independent, for she is not; apart from some very rare exceptions, married women are dependent economically, and that is the last possible remaining bond on women. Women have struggled for ages now, and today they are ably championed in our country by the honourable member for West Calgary (Mr. Shaw) and his friends who in this House are demanding further rights for them.

When I hear men talk about woman being the angel of the home I always, mentally at least, shrug my shoulders in doubt. I do not want to be the angel of any home; I want for myself what I want for other women — absolute equality. After that is secured, then men and women can take turns at being angels. I stress that angel part, because I remember that last year an honourable member who spoke from the opposite benches called a woman an angel and in the next breath said that men were superior. They must therefore be gods . . .

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