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Keith Beardsley

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Could Canadian Speeches Use the Obama Touch?

Posted: 11/07/2012 1:23 pm

History was made last night when President Obama was re-elected for another four year term. What struck me while listening to his acceptance speech was the fact that his words (whether we agree or disagree with him) are now part of his nation's historical record. Quite simply they are there for future generations to study.

In much the same way, when our MPs stand in the House of Commons to give a speech, read a Member's Statement, ask a question or even make a comment during a committee meeting, their words are there for posterity too. Future generations of Canadians will study what has been said, comments of individuals will be analyzed and our present day MPs will have left an indelible mark on our country's history.

However, when you look at the House of Commons today you have to wonder where is that sense of history when an MP stands up to read a Member's Statement, a speech, ask a question or if a minister, answer one?

Their children, grandchildren and yes even great grandchildren and scholars decades down the road will be able to review what every one of our MPs of all political stripes has put on the historical record. If you are an MP or if you follow what was said in the House today, would you want that to be your historical record, your record of service to your country in that great institution of Parliament?

Where is the pride in craftsmanship that speakers in the House used to have? Today it has been replaced by the 10-second media clip. The clever put down of a political opponent has been replaced by a blunt hammer blow of partisan nastiness.

I have a collection of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's speeches and quotes. When you read them, they are as alive today as on the day he stood to deliver them. Can you say that about any of our politicians today?

How many MPs today write their own speeches and spend hours drafting and re-drafting them so that they truly reflect their views and values? How many MPs on the government side stand up and blindly read what has been handed to them by the boys in the PMO or by a minister's staffer?

Gone are the days when a Parliamentary Secretary would refuse outright to read a speech with which they personally disagreed. For that matter, how many committee chairs today will write a report that is anything less than talk points dictated by PMO?

It used to be that MPs from all parties came to Ottawa to change the system, to make things better. They had different political beliefs, but they were all there for the same reason -- to make a better Canada. They had that sense of history that was reflected in Obama's speech last night. The words they spoke made a difference; their words were their personal historical record, preserved for all time in Hansard.

What would Diefenbaker have thought if his MPs stood day after day and read into our county's historical record the following:

Jacques Gourde: "It is sad, because the carbon tax proposed by the NDP would increase the price of birthday cakes, candles and even pinatas." (Hansard, October24, 2012)

Stellar Ambler: "Unfortunately, the NDP wants to impose one of the spookiest things of all, an evil $21 billion carbon tax... that would hurt Canadian families and raise the cost of celebrating Halloween." (Hansard, October 30, 2012)

Corneliu Chisu: "Even Count Dracula himself is frightened by the very scary carbon tax proposed by the spooky NDP." (Hansard, October 31, 2012)

Aren't these stirring words? Is this how these MPs want to be remembered by future generations of Canadians? Where was their sense of history when they stood to read this nonsense into our country's historical record?

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  • Barack Obama accompanied by First Lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia appears on stage on election night in Chicago. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama, with his daughter Malia wave toward the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama walks out of the stage with his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama

    President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama addresses the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama smiles during his speech at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama arriveS on stage after winning the 2012 US presidential election November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by defying the dragging economic recovery and high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama and family arrive on stage after winning the 2012 US presidential election November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by defying the dragging economic recovery and high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama and family arrive on stage after winning the 2012 US presidential election November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by defying the dragging economic recovery and high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Barack Obama accompanied First Lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia waves to supporters on stage on election night in Chicago. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

  • US President Barack Obama waves to supporters as he arrives accompanied by (from L-R ) First Lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha on election night in Chicago. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

  • US President Barack Obama and family arrive on stage after winning the 2012 US presidential election. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney concedes defeat November 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, telling supporters that he had called US President Barack Obama to congratulate him on his victory. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, waves to the crowd while speaking at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney greets supporters as he concedes the presidency during his campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, wife Ann Romney, center, and Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., stand on stage after Romney conceded the race during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

  • Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, Janna Ryan

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, left, and Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his wife Janna, right, are joined by their families on stage after Romney conceded the race during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, Janna Ryan

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann stand on the stage with Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his wife Janna after Mitt Romney conceded the race during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, Janna Ryan

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann are joined by their son Craig Romney, right, and other family members on stage after Romney conceded the race during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, waves to the crowd while standing at the podium before conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, waves to the crowd before conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, kisses his wife, Ann Romney, after conceding the presidency during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. After voters went to the polls in the heavily contested presidential race, networks projected incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama has won re-election against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk off Air Force One after arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama greets first lady Michelle Obama on the tarmac as she arrives at Des Moines International Airport on Air Force One, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa, en route to a campaign event. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Joe Biden

    Vice President Joe Biden hugs Anne Holton, wife of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine on the tarmac of the Roanoke Virginia Airport in Roanoke, Va., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. Biden made a surprise visit to Roanoke arriving via Air Force Two with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Kyle Green, Pool)

  • Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to reporters after he took questions on his campaign plane en route from Pittsburgh to Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. At right is senior adviser Kevin Madden. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney arrives on his campaign plane at Boston's Logan Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Republican

    A spectator reacts to a change in the Florida early projections sen on a television during Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Cean Orrett, 45, center, and Gareth Edmondson-Jones, 46, of San Diago, both recently married in New York, react to positive predictions for President Barack Obama as crowds watch election results in Times Square, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in New York. After a year of campaigning, polls have begun to close after Americans across the United States headed to the polls to decide the winner of the tight presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

  • Nancy French, from Columbia, Tenn., watches vote results displayed on a television screen during Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Spencer Siady, left, and Vinay Cardwell, of Salt Lake CIty, react as disappointing numbers dis come in for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney during election night party for the Republicans at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Griffin) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TV OUT; MAGS OUT

  • A supporter reacts to voting results displayed on a television screen during Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Mitt Romney supporters watch presidential returns during a GOP watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • The Democratic party faithful gathered at the Minnesota DFL Party headquarters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul, Minn. to hear election results Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2012. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak went crowd surfing, with his mother Loraine, after it was announced that Pres. Barack Obama had won re-election. (AP Photo/David Joles/ Star Tribune)

  • Arizona Democrats celebrate as President Barack Obama is declared the winner of the presidential race at Democratic Party gathering, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Supporters of President Barack Obama Shauna Harry, left, and Alana Hearn celebrate by leaping in the air at New York State Democratic Headquarters following Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • President Obama Holds Election Night Event In Chicago

    CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama attend the Obama Election Night watch party at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama is going for reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • American Expats Gather To Watch Coverage Of The U.S. Presidential Elections

    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer while watching coverage of the U.S. Presidential Elections on on November 6, 2012 in London, England. U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are in a virtual tie in the national polls. (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Holds Election Night Event In Chicago

    CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: A supporter of U.S. President Barack Obama attends the Obama Election Night watch party at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama is going for reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    Supporters of US President Barack Obama watch voting results on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Holds Election Night Event In Chicago

    CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer after networks project Obama as reelected during the Obama Election Night watch party at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Networks project Obama has won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Holds Election Night Event In Chicago

    CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06: Supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama cheer after networks project Obama as reelected during the Obama Election Night watch party at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Networks project Obama has won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Holds Election Night Gathering In Boston

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 06: Spectators react to President Obama's projected re-election displayed on large televisions during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on November 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Voters went to polls in the heavily contested presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    Supporters of US President Barack Obama celebrate as CNN projects victory for Obama on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    Supporters of US President Barack Obama celebrate as CNN projects victory for Obama on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-ROMNEY

    Supporters of US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney watch as Fox News projects US President Barack Obama is re-elected on election night November 6, 2012 in Boston Massachusetts. AFP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama supporters celebrate as CNN projected The President re-elected on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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