CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Great Theatre

History, Political Science
2 to 3 lessons
To explore how the House of Commons operates
Students role-play reactions to the Omnibus Bill based on their knowledge of the House of Commons.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Write this quotation from John Turner, Justice Minister at the time of the Omnibus Bill, on the board or chart paper:

"When you have issues that run so profoundly into the very essence of private conscience and private morality, then the House of Commons had to become more of a theatre than a workshop."

Ask students to use what they already know about the House of Commons to describe ways in which it is like a theatre and ways in which it is like a workshop. Discuss the responses.

Outline the Opportunity


Have students investigate how the House of Commons became a "theatre" by having them explore the topic Trudeau's Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian Taboos on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students will take notes on various aspects of the Bill and summarize the debate.

Divide the class into groups of six.  Assign a group leader to keep the group on task. Ask each student to assume and maintain one of the following approaches to the bill: analytic and cautious, objective and neutral, emotional and passionate, positive and optimistic, imaginative and creative, or cool and organized. Have each person describe his or her thinking about various aspects of the bill from the perspective of his or her assigned role.

Revisit and Reflect


Ask students to identify key people shown in the clips, such as John Turner, Pierre Trudeau, and Eldon Woolliams, and describe their apparent approach to the bill. Ask: Why did John Turner think the House of Commons became like a theatre during the time of the Omnibus Bill?




Students can view a current debate in the House of Commons, describe it, and explain how it is or is not "more of a theatre than a workshop."

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