The Speaker's speech: How therapy helped Geoff Regan find his voice
Published Saturday, January 2, 2016 10:00PM EST
When Geoff Regan was chosen as the Speaker of the House of Commons, he became the first Member of Parliament from Atlantic Canada to assume the position in nearly a century.
And while that feat is impressive in and of itself, what makes Regan’s story remarkable is that he grew up with a speech impediment.
“I was trying to get ideas out in a hurry sometimes, and too much of a hurry, and had a difficult time slowing down my speech enough to be understood,” Regan says.
Regan comes from a large family, and happens to be the son of Gerald Regan, a former premier of Nova Scotia. And while his father made a career out of public speaking, Regan often struggled with his words.
“Speaking seemed like such a simple thing for everybody else,” his sister Nancy recalls. “It just didn't come out for him. It didn't come naturally. It was a constant battle.”
Regan fought with his speech into his early twenties, and it became a growing source of frustration as he began to develop political aspirations. “Of course it affects your self-esteem and your confidence,” he says.
Regan decided to do something about his problem, and eventually sought help from a speech clinic. Speech pathologist Joy Armson remembers Regan attending her clinic.
“There was a fair bit of rote practise, and as I remember, he was diligent about practising,”Armson says.
And that practise soon paid off, his sister Nancy remembers.
“You just sort of realize one day -- oh! He's not stuttering anymore,” she said. “I Remember that. He had a bad stutter and he doesn't now.”
With files from CTV’s Ottawa Deputy Bureau Chief Laurie Graham