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Speech

George Brown: 1865 Speech in Favour of Confederation

George Brown played an instrumental role in establishing Confederation. As leader of the Clear Grits (forerunner of the Liberal Party) in Canada West, he set aside political differences and allied with his Conservative rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1864, with whom he pitched Confederation to the Atlantic colonies at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. From 3 February to 13 March 1865, politicians in the Province of Canada debated the terms of Confederation, offering some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the union of British North American colonies. In the following speech, delivered before the legislature of the Province of Canada on 8 February 1865, Brown explains his reasons for supporting Confederation.

Article

Viola Desmond

Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil rights activist (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. In 1946, Viola Desmond challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated Whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Viola Desmond was arrested, jailed overnight and convicted without legal representation for an obscure tax offence as a result. Despite the efforts of the Nova Scotian Black community to assist her appeal, Viola Desmond was unable to remove the charges against her and went unpardoned in her lifetime. Desmond’s courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination provided inspiration to later generations of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In 2010, Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis issued Desmond a free pardon. In December 2016, the Bank of Canada announced that Viola Desmond would be the first Canadian woman to be featured by herself on the face of a banknote — the $10 note released on 19 November 2018. Viola Desmond was named a National Historic Person by the Canadian government in 2018.

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Geraldine Van Bibber

Geraldine Van Bibber (née Kelly), public servant, businesswoman and commissioner of Yukon (b at Dawson, YT 3 July 1951). Geraldine Van Bibber was born and raised in DAWSON, YT, and is of GWICH'IN and Irish descent.

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George Spence

George Spence, homesteader, politician, civil servant (b at Birsey, Orkney I, Scot 25 Oct 1879; d at Regina 4 Mar 1975).

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Jeanne Corbin

Jeanne Henriette Corbin, communist activist and union organizer (born in March 1906 in Cellettes, France; died 7 May 1944 in London, Ontario). A member of the Communist Party of Canada and secretary of the Canadian Labour Defense League, she defended the rights of Canadian workers for over 15 years. She gained particular prominence for her role in the lumber workers’ strike in Rouyn, Quebec in 1933.

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Princess Alice Countess of Athlone

Her Royal Highness Princess Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline of Albany, Countess of Athlone, viceregal consort of Canada from 1940 to 1946 (born 25 February 1883 in Berkshire, United Kingdom; died 3 January 1981 in London, United Kingdom). Princess Alice promoted Canadian culture and women’s contributions to the Second World War. She was the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria and the last member of the royal family to serve as viceregal consort of Canada.

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Princess Patricia of Connaught

Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth of Connaught (born 17 March 1886 in London, United Kingdom; died 12 January 1974 in Windlesham, Surrey, United Kingdom). Patricia resided in Canada from 1911 to 1916 and acted as hostess for her father, the Duke of Connaught, during his term as governor general. She gave her name to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and became honorary colonel-in-chief in 1918. A talented artist inspired by Canadian landscapes, she exhibited her paintings in Canadian art exhibitions, and examples of her work remain part of Canadian collections.

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Andrew Scheer

Andrew James Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2017– ), Speaker of the House of Commons, member of Parliament (born 20 May 1979 in Ottawa, ON). Scheer was the youngest Speaker of the House when elected to that position in 2011. Six years later, he became the second Conservative leader since the party's re-formation in 2004. Under Scheer, the Conservatives won 121 seats during the 2019 federal election, increasing their presence in the House of Commons. However, they failed to defeat the governing Liberals, who won a minority government. On 12 December 2019, Scheer announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

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Edward Stelmach

Edward Stelmach was first elected to the Alberta legislature under the Conservative banner in the 1993 provincial election. He subsequently held various government posts, including those of Deputy Whip and Chief Government Whip, before entering the Cabinet in 1997.

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Alphonse-Télesphore Lépine

Alphonse-Télesphore Lépine, printer, politician and union activist (born 15 May 1855 in Quebec City, QC; died 19 August 1943 in Montreal, QC). Elected in a by-election in the riding of Montreal East in 1888, he became the first working-class independent member of parliament in the House of Commons. In the House, he promoted a program inspired by the Knights of Labor’s declaration of principles. Throughout Lépine’s political career, his supporters did not hesitate to capitalize on his working-class background and were quick to describe him as a true “self-made man” who owed his success to his love of work.

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Tommy Douglas and Eugenics

Tommy Douglas — the father of socialized medicine in Canada and one of the country’s most beloved figures — once supported eugenic policies. In 1933, he received a Master of Arts in sociology from McMaster University for his thesis, “The Problems of the Subnormal Family.” In the thesis, Douglas recommended several eugenic policies, including the sterilization of “mental defectives and those incurably diseased.” His ideas were not unique, as two Canadian provinces (and 32 American states) passed sexual-sterilization legislation in the 1920s and 1930s. However, by the time Douglas became premier of Saskatchewan in 1944, he had abandoned his support for eugenic policies. When Douglas received two reports that recommended legalizing sexual sterilization in the province, he rejected the idea.

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Jim Egan

James Leo (Jim) Egan, gay activist, writer, politician, environmental activist (born 14 September 1921 in Toronto, ON; died 9 March 2000 in Courtenay, BC). Egan was the first person to publish long articles written from a gay point of view in Canada. He was also one of the first openly gay politicians to serve in Canada. Egan is best remembered for a court challenge he and his partner, Jack Nesbit, launched against the spousal allowance benefit under the Old Age Security Act in 1988. In the subsequent Egan v. Canada decision (1995), the Supreme Court read in that sexual orientation is a protected ground of discrimination inthe Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — a monumental finding in support of LGBTQ2 rights in Canada.  

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Hugh Burnett

Hugh Burnett, civil rights activist, carpenter (born 14 July 1918 in Dresden, ON; died 29 September 1991 in London, ON). Burnett was a key figure in the fight for anti-discrimination legislation in Ontario. Through the 1940s and early 1950s, he organized tirelessly against racial discrimination in public service in his hometown of Dresden, Ontario, rising to prominence as a leader and organizer of the National Unity Association (NUA), a coalition of Black community members pushing for equal rights in Dresden and the surrounding area. He was instrumental to in bringing about legislative and legal victories for civil rights at the provincial level related to the 1954 Fair Accommodation Practices Act, an early anti-discrimination law in Ontario.

Article

Andrew Weaver

Andrew John Weaver, OBC, FRSC, leader of the BC Green Party 2015–present, climate scientist (born 16 November 1961 in Victoria, BC). Andrew Weaver is a leading climate change researcher who has made historic gains for the Green Party of British Columbia in his second career as a politician. In 2013, he was elected the province’s first Green MLA. In 2017, he led the Greens to three seats. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal with the BC New Democratic Party and toppled the Liberal government of Christy Clark to help John Horgan become premier.

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John Foote, VC

John Weir Foote, VC, Presbyterian minister, soldier, Member of (Ontario) Provincial Parliament, cabinet minister (born 5 May 1904 in Madoc, ON; died 2 May 1988 in Coburg, ON). During the Second World War, Honorary Captain John Foote was the only Canadian chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.

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David Currie, VC

David Vivian Currie, VC, auto mechanic, welder, soldier, House of Commons sergeant-at-arms (born 8 July 1912 in Sutherland, SK; died 24 June 1986 in Ottawa, ON). During the Second World War, Major Currie was the only member of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.

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Harry Daniels

Harry Wilfred Daniels, politician, writer, actor (born 16 September 1940 in Regina Beach, SK; died 6 September 2004 in Regina Beach). Daniels was a celebrated Métis politician and activist who fought for the rights of Métis people. His greatest contribution to Indigenous rights in Canada was the Supreme Court case Daniels v. Canada, which guaranteed that Métis and Non-Status Indians are considered “Indian” under the Constitution Act, 1867.

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Jagmeet Singh

Jagmeet Singh Jimmy Dhaliwal, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada 2017–present, MPP, lawyer (born 2 January 1979 in Scarborough, ON). Singh is the first racialized leader of a major national political party in Canada. He was also the first turban-wearing Sikh elected to the Ontario legislature.