2014- Jun 23rd- Celebrating Churchill Statue’s New Location

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly and distinguished guests celebrated the relocation of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill at the north-west corner of City Hall.

Speech from our Chair Mr. Joel Watson on Jun 23rd  in celebrating the relocation of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill:

Good afternoon, I don’t know how many noticed that I rubbed the great man’s toe, but that is the tradition at Westminister among the MP’s and it is said to bring you luck. So while I differ with John on the location, hopefully the location will bring more passersby and the toe will be rubbed bare

Colonel Jackman, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Parker, Mr. Barber, Ladies and Gentleman,

The disadvantage of speaking last is that so often much of which you would say has already been said. Unfortunately, this well-known fact has not stopped many speakers from plodding on with their prepared notes repeating to the boredom of those assembled what has already been said for a second or even third time.  The advantage of being last is well, that you are last.

As you will soon hear, and possibly fear, I have taken note of the speeches before me, and I shall neither repeat a history of this magnificent statue nor surrender the opportunity to use its rededication to argue forcefully that, now more than ever, we need to remember and recall the virtues of the man here honoured, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

Ladies and Gentleman, perhaps the great man can from this new location look over his shoulder and keep an eye on the legislators, but the real question is why a statue of Winston Churchill? For it is not the piece of stone that is important, it is the idea conveyed by the stone, the idea of Churchill, the idea of his greatness, a man who oversaw not only the defence of the free world but the implementation of social welfare reform without profligate spending.  A man who was behind the invention of the tank and the mulberry, but also behind the introduction of a reduced work week, labour exchanges and national insurance.  A man who said:

I look forward to the universal establishment of minimum standards of life and labour, and their progressive elevation…We want to draw a line below which we will not allow persons to live and labour, yet above which they may compete with all the strength of their manhood.  We want to have free competition upwards; we decline to allow free competition to run downwards.  We do not want to pull the down the structure of science and civilization, but to spread a net over the abyss.

Ladies and Gentleman, Churchill gave us ideas that were expressed in the best traditions of the English language, with facts, figures and prose; not 140 characters of superficial tweets.  Moreover, Churchill was a leader who led by speaking of values and ideas not by following polls or pandering to the base.

To say that our leaders today are underwhelming is an understatement.  Regardless of party or faction, where are those leaders today with vision like Churchill who can enlist the public’s attention to discuss the big issues and demand that our leaders respond.  The recent provincial election was characterized by the unofficial popularity leader being not on the ballet at all but rather known to the electorate as that personage referred to as none of the above.

Ladies and Gentleman, in the words of Niall Ferguson, western democracy has degenerated such that we have forgotten the institutions like free speaking parliaments and an independent judiciary which kept us free. We live now in a time of party discipline, party whips, public disaffection, cynicism and indifference.  As a result, we have crumbling roads, massive scandals, recalcitrant jurists, and oligarchs rising once again in Russia to threaten world peace.

And so Ladies and Gentleman, why is this magnificent statue important?  It is because of the ideas of the man.  It is his greatness that is captured by the artist.  And so, in re-locating this statue, I implore you to think about the ideas and take steps to demand your leaders to be more Churchillian.  Public Art is far more than the beauty of the art itself, it is not mere decoration of public spaces.  Statues such as this, the Menin Gate in Belgium, and Vimy Ridge are not pretty pictures on the wall but public reminders of greatness, they are signposts from the past that are to guide us in our futures.  This statue’s purpose is to educate, to remind and to scowl.

And so as we rededicate this statue of the likeness of Winston Churchill, let us not think of this as a public park, but rather as a chance to rededicate ourselves to the ideas and achievements of the great man himself.  In the end, it is the will of the people that will keep us free.  Churchill knew it, let’s not forget it.

Thank you.

Celebrating Relocation of Sr. Winston Churchill statue

Sir Winston and Friends