Evidence of meeting #15 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 relationship.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Peter Dinsdale  Chief Operating Officer, Assembly of First Nations
  • David MacKenzie  Deputy Minister, Department of Tourism and Culture with Senior Responsibility for Prince Edward Island's 150th Anniversary, Government of Prince Edward Island
  • Deborah Apps  President and Chief Executive Officer, Trans Canada Trail
  • Paul LaBarge  Chair, Trans Canada Trail

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you to Mr. Cash for reiterating something that's very important to me, of course, which is this promotion of our history.

Maybe I'll start with our friend from P.E.I.

I'm impressed that you're here today. We all know that Prince Edward Island is an important tourism destination, and you're going to be using our history and the development of our country. I've talked about it a bit before. One thing that impressed me with the CBC was the Sir John A. Macdonald program, which ended with 1864.

Maybe you can talk a little bit about how you're going to use the 2014 and the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference as an opportunity to promote P.E.I. as a tourism destination and to help promote our history at the same time.

10:05 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Tourism and Culture with Senior Responsibility for Prince Edward Island's 150th Anniversary, Government of Prince Edward Island

David MacKenzie

Thank you very much.

You've touched on the biggest challenge of any anniversary and that is to blend the celebratory components that the public adores and the sometimes hard truth--good and bad--that exists, particularly as part of anniversaries.

I must admit that Mr. Benskin talked about how he likes to learn something every day. I'm just fascinated by what I'm hearing from Peter, because one of the challenges that we have is how to incorporate the first nations into 2014. Basically, they were group excluded from the discussions in Charlottetown in 1864 and 1867, as were women and as were other groups.

We don't have an answer for that yet, Mr. Brown, but the challenge that we have taken on wholeheartedly is how to work with groups to determine the relationship between the haves at that point, in the 1864 and 1867 period, and the have-nots, and how that has changed over the last 150 years. It won't be easy, and the challenge will be to blend it, again, with the party scene that people expect. By working with people like Peter, I'm looking forward to getting the answers to that big question that you asked on the educational role.

I'm positive. We've done a little bit of surveying across the country about whether people know that the Fathers of Confederation first met in Charlottetown, and the knowledge level is extremely low. The federal government's focus on what The Globe and Mail calls anniversary-palooza, I think, is a great step to start thinking about things like the War of 1812, the kickoff of World War I, the 75th anniversary of World War II, etc. Those moments will be important to us, and I think they will help us tell the story of 1864 in Charlottetown as well.

November 29th, 2011 / 10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Great. Thank you.

I'd like to get to our friends from the Trans Canada Trail. Back in 2000, I believe it was, you had a relay across the country, which I participated in. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, the Cataraqui Trail, runs through my riding of Leeds--Grenville. It crosses into my riding at Chaffey's Locks. I was at the event and I handed off the water being carried across the country to Dan Aykroyd, who happened to be here a few weeks ago with his father.

I haven't heard a lot about the Trans Canada Trail since 2000. Maybe you can tell us a bit about what's been going on. I didn't realize you had gaps that haven't been completed yet. Maybe you can tell us a little about what's been going on since 2000 when you had that relay. Also, how do you think we can really use 2017 and Canada 150 to help reignite interest in the Trans Canada Trail?

10:10 a.m.

Chair, Trans Canada Trail

Paul LaBarge

After 2000, the Trans Canada Trail was faced with quite a challenge, because a lot of people sort of said, well, that's done, and went off somewhere else. Since then, a lot of rebuilding has taken place on the Trans Canada Trail as far as the organization goes.

One of the challenges of the Trans Canada Trail--the simplest way to phrase it--is that there's a mob of volunteers. Mobs, as you probably gather, are kind of tough to get motivated and get going in a single direction.

Since 2000, we have probably added about 23% to the trail that was completed. More importantly, we now have a robust national network of trail groups that will get us to the completion point. That is probably the short answer to what has happened since 2000.

There are elements we look at. For instance, in that time period, Deborah joined us. We have built relationships with organizations like the Historica-Dominion Institute. We feel that in order for the trail to become truly iconic it has to link our past and our future. With a lot of what you might look at today, we were building the trail on the ground, but also building the infrastructure of the trail in people's minds and getting that sense of local ownership.

We certainly made a great effort and managed to get letters of support from every provincial premier as a part of the trail so the federal government would see that this was a non-partisan effort and something that was reflective of all Canadians. That's where we've been dedicating the bulk of our attention.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Mr. Nantel.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Let me state right away that what Mr. Dinsdale from the First Nations Assembly told us this morning is very important. This was the deepest reflection we heard since the beginning of our hearings on the 150th anniversary of Canada. Mr. Hillyer’s question was especially touching and your answer was just as much so.

Considering all that needs to be done in order to be able to celebrate without being ashamed of what lies in the background, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

I hope the Assembly of First Nations will be widely consulted on the preparation of the celebrations. We cannot help but agree that the Trans Canada Trail is indeed a perfect image. I would imagine there are some repairs to be made but those sections would be fewer than those who remain to be built.

This brings in more of the other aspects by which we could approach 2017 by which I mean carrying out unifying projects. Yours has taken 21 years to reach this point.

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

It started 20 years ago.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

So, now we have reached your 20th anniversary and it is not complete. What kind of support do you expect from Canada 150 in completing the trail? You put forward a very interesting scheme where the government would contribute one dollar for each dollar collected in your funding drive.

So I have two questions. What kind of funding or official participation of Canada 150 for the completion of the trail are you seeking? Do you believe the trail could be used in different ways?

We heard from people here who proposed all sorts of approaches, including getting Canadians to travel. Do you believe the Trans Canada Trail could be one way for Canadians to travel throughout Canada while benefiting, for example, from reduced prices in hotels? Could we envisage that communities along the trail might develop a hospitality infrastructure to allow people to discover Canada?

10:15 a.m.

Chair, Trans Canada Trail

Paul LaBarge

These are very interesting questions.

Let us talk first about funding. Whether it is Canada 150, Parks Canada, Environment Canada or any other agency that provides funding does not really matter to us. If it gets into the budget, yes, that would be fantastic.

I am struck by one similarity, among others, which I believe is essential: in some way, our history is like a thread. The trail is a continuation of that thread. The 150th anniversary is not a stand-alone event. It is about reaching a certain point and continuing on. So it is not a celebration of a day, but a celebration of our existence. This is why we believe that the Trans Canada Trail could indeed be a preferred site for these celebrations. We recognize that we need methods to encourage the use of the trail, whether it be a passport tailored to each region or special hospitality arrangements for travellers. One of our board members who is 90 years old decided to walk a hundred kilometres in each province and territory before dying. And he did. So we need to foster a level of enthusiasm that reflects grass roots values.

So I look at things and I say to myself, frankly, that this is a prime opportunity not only to encourage visitors but also to meet other people on each visit and make new friends. Furthermore, and this is even more important, it is a means to get acquainted with the reality of others. I for one consider myself very lucky to have been able in the course of my career to work all over Canada and I am extremely proud of it. To me, it is an enormous gift. It is beneficial, whether we are talking about Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta of Quebec.

Let's suppose I went to Mont-Tremblant using the P'tit Train du Nord: 500,000 people use that trail every year. Five hundred thousand people are an enormous number! We want to generate this level of enthusiasm and we want it to be the trail that attracts people from one region to another. There is no politics in that. It is simply Canada.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Merci, monsieur Nantel.

Ms. O'Neill Gordon.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, guests. It's certainly great to have been able to sit in on your presentation. It was very enjoyable.

My first comment and question are for Mr. Dinsdale. I have to reiterate what everyone else was saying here this morning, which is we certainly appreciate and value the success of the Olympic winter games. The best part was that we were able to witness the participation of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and I know this is what we want to look forward to in our celebration of 2017.

Coming from the constituency of Miramichi, I have three aboriginal communities in my riding. I also have the experience of teaching on one of the reserves in that area. I realize that this topic will be front and centre in the schools and will be enjoyable.

My question is, for those who have small communities like I have in my riding, how do the plans unfold for those communities to get involved--not only the students but every member of those communities--so that everyone comes to really realize the importance and the great value we have of being Canadian and of being so proud of our country? Could you tell us how this will unfold in each community?

10:20 a.m.

Chief Operating Officer, Assembly of First Nations

Peter Dinsdale

I can't pretend to have all the answers on this in particular. I think that even with regard to the Olympic participation there was a lot of debate in first nation communities about whether to accept the torch going through their community, because there were concerns. There were concerns about the tenure of the land in B.C. in particular, the land that some of the games hosting was going to be on, and a concern that Canada has its history, so why would they be celebrating it? There is certainly not a consensus across the country.

I think what was successful about that was the effort of engaging those who were ready and willing to participate, and I think this process could do just that. We could put the call out through our networks and through our relationships directly with chiefs and councils in the communities, and with other providers, to say that there is an opportunity here to tell our story, to be a part, as partners in Confederation, of the witnessing of this, to be a part of the ceremonies themselves.

Those who are ready will come and will engage. I think you do this through respectful relationships with organizations such as ours and others to help open the doors and say that this is a safe place to work together on this project. I think it's an example of that “consult early, consult often” mentality of open dialogue.

There will by no means be consensus on our participation amongst our communities. They're very diverse, just as they were during the Olympics. But I think as well that we could find an important critical mass who are willing and able to participate.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

The next comment goes to you, Mr. MacKenzie.

Being a neighbour to P.E.I., I certainly, along with almost all Canadians, value the fact that P.E.I. is the birthplace of Canada, because you have a lot to offer with beauty and hospitality. I know that a lot of celebrations will be taking place in Charlottetown, but do you see celebrations extending out into the other little communities as well?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Tourism and Culture with Senior Responsibility for Prince Edward Island's 150th Anniversary, Government of Prince Edward Island

David MacKenzie

Absolutely. The philosophy we're taking is that the conference happened in Charlottetown, but this is actually a national celebration of that conference, and we believe activities should take place not only across Prince Edward Island but across the country.

One of the reasons we've been in discussions with Deborah and Paul is that very reason: we are looking to partners who can provide a trail from coast to coast to coast for Charlottetown. So absolutely, yes.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Thank you.

I'll pass the rest of the time over to Paul.