The Vancouver Courier has a big front-page article by Brandon Yip on speechwriting, interviewing folks like Tim Porteous (who wrote for Pierre Trudeau during those heady early years at the end of the 1960s), Libby Davies, Bill Vander Zalm, Hedy Fry, and recovering speechwriters Tony Wilson and Matt Hughes.

Oh, and me.

There’s a lot of solid advice in there, some good clashing perspectives and a little standup comedy from yours truly. And there’s this intriguing bit from Porteous that could be the subject of an entire book on the unique relationship between politicians and their aides:

While he and Trudeau worked hand-in-glove to produce some of the most important Canadian political speeches of the early 1970s, Porteous believes all politicians are in a state of tension with speechwriters, no matter what their personal relationship. “The existence of a speechwriter is kind of a rebuke to the politician. Theoretically, the politician should be writing his own material. If he isn’t, it looks like he’s either lazy or incompetent.”

But the reality is, according to Porteous, political figures don’t have time to research a speech and write it. “Nevertheless, when he stands up in front of an audience, they want to believe they’re hearing him. They don’t want to believe that he’s reading something that’s been written by somebody else. So, there’s a kind of resentment from the audience if they believe the politician didn’t write his own speech. And there’s resentment from the politician himself that he has to rely on a speechwriter.”

(Thanks for the time and patience, Brandon and Adam. Gracias as well to Gazetteer for pointing to the article, and Sarah Marchildon for letting me know it had hit the streets.)

Subscribe to SpeechList

Insight, advice and ideas for speechwriting, speaking and leadership communications — from my inbox to yours.

Thanks for signing up! Now just one more step: check your email inbox for a confirmation link, and you're all set!