Evidence of meeting #10 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was centennial.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

In terms of setting up a potential commission, because you were obviously intimately involved in that, is that something the government should consider doing? I know it's only 2011 right now and most Canadians are not focused on 2017 yet, but I think it's our responsibility, and that's why this committee is undertaking this study, to look ahead. Maybe you can tell us whether you think setting up a commission might be a good idea, and what it might do.

And to Mr. MacLeod, you talked a little bit about some things that are already going on. Maybe you can tell us some things that are happening already.

9:20 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

Why don't I just say a little bit of it?

I would say yes, the government should set up a commission, and in short order, too. If you take the centennial as a significant precedent, the commission was created in 1962. As you know, if we want to build anything of any significance, that requires planning. The time it takes these days to get an environmental assessment, to get all the contracts lined up...it takes several years to build anything. Even though it does seem to most Canadians as though we're still a ways away from 2017, in fact in planning terms it's practically tomorrow, so we do need to get moving.

I understand the importance of commemorating the jubilee and the War of 1812, and there are some other milestones, and these are getting maybe a little backed up in the system, but let's not miss this opportunity by playing out the clock on it.

To that end, I think the provinces have each begun their own conversations internally about what they can do to mark the sesquicentennial. Most significantly, it's P.E.I. that is first out of the gate. I should commend to you the work of David MacKenzie, who was recently appointed the CEO of P.E.I. 2014. Why 2014? Well, of course, it was when the Fathers of Confederation met in P.E.I., and P.E.I.'s big theme is the idea of the great dream: we had a great dream on that island then and it led to Canada. So they're going to spend 2014 celebrating that meeting, and in time will be helping Canadians to create an on-ramp to 2017.

They're going to have two conferences: one in December for Islanders to have a big think about what needs to happen, and then they're going to invite prominent Canadians--leading organizations from coast to coast--to the Island, probably in February or March of next year, for another big think about what the country should do to mark the occasion. So you can look to the Island for some leadership on this issue.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

I speak about this often because only three out of ten provinces in Canada require a student to have a history course to graduate from high school. From my recollections of 1967, it was a real opportunity to focus on our history.

How might we work on helping to educate Canadians? Obviously the celebrations surrounding the War of 1812 next year and over the next couple of years provide a great opportunity. How might we use 2017 and Canada 150 to really celebrate our history? And in terms of the process we're going through now, how may we involve Canadians in that consultation process?

9:25 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

I think it's two things. It's about looking back, and it's also about looking forward. We should use 2017 as a pivot point to look in both directions at the same time. I take your point that young Canadians probably don't know enough about the history of the country.

Because of constitutional concerns, it's not in the federal government's remit to be able to change history instruction at the provincial level. Governments at all levels since the sixties have gotten out of the public learning business. It's not just in our schools, of course, that states seek to educate their citizens. I've already pointed to Expo as one instance where there was a large pedagogic program at work. Even funny things like Ontario Place, which opened in the seventies, wasn't built as a music venue and a water slide. It was built as a place to celebrate advances in Ontario's society, so that you could go and see new technologies and learn more about the province.

A big conversation needs to happen amongst all of the obvious groups, whether it's the librarians, the educators, or the Canadian Museums Association. We need to bring them together and challenge them to make it a priority for Canadians to know more about their country. It's a priority for us that Canadians are thinking ahead. Tell us what you have. What would be the most creative, persuasive, compelling opportunities, if we were given five years to make a real go at this thing? I don't think there would be any shortage of ideas. There certainly wasn't when we brought people together at the National Arts Centre.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Thank you.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Brown.

Mr. Cash.

November 3rd, 2011 / 9:25 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to you all for being here today. It's wonderful to have you. In particular, it's a real gift for us to have someone like Mr. Aykroyd, with the institutional memory of the organizing of the centenary. It's surprising we don't have the qualitative and quantitative documentation about what we did right, other than this testimony, which we are really thankful for. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that we did something right.

That was 1967. Mr. Aykroyd, what do you think is the biggest change that we're living through right now, compared with 1967?

9:30 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

It's in the field of technology. It's communications. It's the whole question about what we are calling social media. Anybody can talk to anybody else in the world on the Internet and online. It's a simply stupendous advance in communications and relationships of individuals with one another. It's in that realm that things have changed. It's in that realm that we should be looking to take advantage of this with the impetus of 2017 behind it. That would be my response.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

I'm wondering, Mr. Aykroyd, were you consulted by the federal government when the government was planning the 125th anniversary?

9:30 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

Which anniversary?

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

The 125th anniversary.

9:30 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

No, I don't recall. I wasn't involved.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Okay.

9:30 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

It's worth responding to you, as members of Parliament, that in 1967 it started in the Prime Minister's Office—in Mr. Pearson's office. He had a private secretary named Jack Hodgson. Jack Hodgson was a distinguished naval officer in the war, and he was an executive in the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Mr. Pearson handed Jack Hodgson this responsibility in 1967. It all started with one man. He did some consultation, and I believe somewhere along the line it had to start in the House of Commons, because that's where legislation starts. I remember when the draft bill went to the Department of Justice. I was around the Privy Council Office at the time. I remember the draft bill was all laid out there. Somebody did all the work, and I don't know how involved the members of Parliament really were. Had there been a committee like this, well, they'd have sure had lots of input.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Yes. I'm wondering about the commission itself. I know it's in here, but how independent was the commission? How was it structured?