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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Words Matter; People Matter More

On Monday, I attended the U of A Press' book launch of Lois Hole Speaks: Words that Matter. The book is a collection of the speeches Lois delivered during her time as Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and as Alberta's Lieutenant Governor.

Mark Lisac has done an admirable job of editing the work, choosing the best, most representative speeches out of hundreds. And he's put them in a historical context, with an illuminating overview of the political scene in Alberta. It's interesting reading, though I suppose I'm a little biased, having served as Lois' speechwriter at the time.

I had hoped, when I was working on those speeches, that they might help make Alberta's relatively right-wing political culture a little more progressive. Judging by the last election, that hope may have been in vain; on the other hand, perhaps each speech was just another piece of a much larger puzzle, involving many more people, a path to a more compassionate society that will take some time to build.

Lisac does point out that Conservative cabinet ministers did, on several occasions, take Lois' advice seriously, and that the speeches may have resulted in government policies less reactionary than they might otherwise have been. I suppose that's progress of a sort, and if one person in need was helped by Lois' passion, obviously the effort was worth it.

It was nice to see old friends from Hole's and from the Lieutanant Governor's staff; one of them is getting ready to head back to Afghanistan for another tour of duty. I hope she'll be okay, and I hope she can make life a little better for the people of that long-suffering nation.

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