When Mr. Churchill Changed Us


Convivium, 5 January 2017

Father Raymond J. de Souza reflects on the legacy of Winston Churchill and reminds Canadians of his powerful address delivered on our nation's 75th anniversary. 

My Cardus colleague Ray Pennings gave us an account this week of New Year’s Eve in Ottawa, with the governor general presiding over the re-igniting of the centennial flame on Parliament Hill, exulting that there was no better place to welcome Canada’s sesquicentennial year than Parliament Hill. The prime minister was in the Bahamas.

A good time was had by all, but the excitement was subdued in the capital. Not so 75 years ago, as the nation was gearing up for Canada 75. Actually, it wasn’t, given that the world was at war. But on New Year’s Eve 75 years ago, Ottawa was actually abuzz. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was in town, and had addressed Parliament the day previous.

Churchill was in Ottawa on December 31 because the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour. The day of infamy – December 7, 1941 – brought a measure of grim satisfaction to Winston Churchill. The entry of the Americans into WWII made Sir Winston sure of an Allied victory. Already 1941 had brought Britain a new ally in the war against Hitler – Stalin’s Soviet Union. By 1941 the world already knew that Churchill’s speeches were like a standing army of their own, but the address he gave within hours of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union – Operation Barbarossa launched on June 22 1941 – was a masterful review of the war to date:

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