Gloria Galloway and Bill Curry summarize the new Liberal Government’s Speech from the Throne, noting the comments from the Official Opposition and pointing out a few salient campaign promises that were not included in the speech.
Appropriate Subject Area(s):
Social studies, current events, history
Key Question to Explore:
- What is a Speech from the Throne? What did the Liberals choose to include and not to include in their recent Throne Speech?
Throne Speech, omnibus, Usher of the Black Rod
Globe article, the Internet
Introduction to lesson and task:
The Conservatives waited three months after their first mandate before presenting their agenda for Canadians. But the new Liberal government, elected October 19th, wasted no time in presenting its plans for what they term, ‘real change,’ tabling many of them in their first Throne Speech on December 4th. The content of the Throne Speech reflected campaign promises and is worth noting for that reason and for its historic brevity. But students who watched the event may well have been mystified by the pomp and ceremony.
This short lesson, designed as a homework assignment, focuses primarily on the basics of a Throne Speech, its traditions and ceremony, while also addressing some of its current content.
Action (lesson plan and task):
Students will engage in a short class discussion about the Speech from the Throne as an introduction to a homework assignment in which they write a short report on the history and traditions of the Speech from the Throne.
Engage students in a short Q&A on the recent Speech from the Throne. The questions can help:
- Why is a man named David Johnston forbidden from entering the House of Commons? (He is the Governor-General and as representative of the Queen he is not allowed in the House)
- If you were the Usher of the Black Rod, would you be a) a character from the new James Bond movie; b) someone who brings the dead back to life; c) a paid staff member of the House of Commons in Ottawa? (c)
- As such, would your job be to: a) punish MPs who heckled speakers? b) polish the door knobs of the Commons chamber? Or c) ensure that no Queen, King or their representatives ever set foot in the House of Commons? (c)
Ask if anyone watched or listened to the Speech from the Throne. Probe to see if any students can explain what it is.
Show students the video from this CBC website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/history-pomp-ceremony-throne-speech-video-1.3348761
Continue the discussion at your discretion.
Provide the following assignment for homework:
Using the attached article from the Globe and Mail, as well as the link, below, from the Canadian Encyclopedia (as well as any other links your teacher has provided) to research and complete a short report on the Canadian parliamentary tradition of the Throne Speech. As well, you will provide a few details from the most recent Throne Speech.
Your report should include responses or answers to the following questions and tasks:
- Why is it called the Speech from the Throne and what is its main purpose?
- The tradition of the Throne Speech in Canada derives from a similar ceremony in England. Which King played a key role in shaping the tradition as it plays out today?
- What do you think is the main reason for keeping the monarch away from parliament?
- In what room is the Throne Speech read, why, and by whom?
- Who writes the Throne Speech?
- How is a Throne Speech different from a Budget?
- Do you think such traditions as the Usher of the Black Rod and the procession of MPs are just silly and outdated, or do you think these are traditions we should cherish and respect? Give reasons.
- Read the article by Ms. Galloway and Mr. Curry. From memory, list the points in it that jump out at you as being the most interesting or that simply stuck in your mind.
- Why do you think those seem more important or interesting to you?
- List three or four of the Opposition Parties’ biggest concerns about the content of the Throne Speech.
- What do you think about the Liberal Government agenda? How are the some of the new government’s priorities different from the outgoing Conservatives, if at all?
- What, if anything, in the Throne Speech would affect you personally? Explain.
Consolidation of Learning:
- When students have submitted their reports, engage them in a short discussion about the assignment.
- Students can describe in basic terms the symbolism and real importance of a Throne Speech and can list a few items that were mentioned in the most recent one.
- Students bring reports to class of news items related to elements of the Throne Speech as they appear in the media.