Evidence of meeting #6 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 2017.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Daniel Jean  Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage
  • Nicole Bourget  Assistant Deputy Minister, Sport, Major Events and Regions, Department of Canadian Heritage

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Good morning, everybody.

Welcome to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Today we are studying Canada's 150th anniversary, which is going to take place in 2017.

I'm very pleased to have with us this morning the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable James Moore, as well as the deputy minister, Daniel Jean. Thanks to both of you for being here with us today.

The minister will be here until 9:45 and the deputy minister until 10:45. We have left the last 15 minutes for committee business.

With that, Minister, welcome to the committee. We look forward to your remarks and our question and answer session.

8:55 a.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm just looking at the clock and I'm more than glad to stay an extra five minutes. I'm sorry I was a little late. I just have to make it to the House for House duty at 10 o'clock, so I'll extend this by five minutes. That's only fair.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here. I'd like to start by congratulating you, Chair, for your new assignment and your election as chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. I know you'll do a great job.

To the members of the committee who were on this committee in the previous Parliament, congratulations on your reappointment.

New members, welcome to one of the best committees of Parliament, which studies things that are important to all Canadians, particularly with regard to culture and national unity, subjects that are important to all Canadians.

By examining important issues in our society, this committee gives Canadians of all backgrounds the opportunity to be heard and helps us ministers and members of Parliament do a better job. I hope, as the session of Parliament begins, to establish a productive working relationship with you.

Today, I would like to talk to you about our government's plans and preparations for celebrating several anniversaries that will lead up to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. I am joined here today by Daniel Jean, Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, and a few officials who will be happy to answer your questions afterwards.

Let me begin by saying that obviously celebrations and anniversaries of the scale of a 150th don't often come around for countries around the world. Indeed, our government believes this is a milestone that should be acknowledged and celebrated in a big way all across this country.

Some of you will have personal memories of the celebrations of 1967, which obviously brought to Canada a great sense of pride in our history. I believe that the landmark event that is Canada's 150th birthday is even more worthy of meaningful celebrations and lasting memories. That is why I'm very pleased that this committee has taken it on as one of its first areas of consideration in this new Parliament.

The year should be an occasion for reflecting on what we have achieved as a relatively young country, and it should be an opportunity to promote a strong sense of pride and belonging for all Canadians. Past events have demonstrated Canadians' enthusiasm for getting involved in large-scale celebrations of national significance.

The 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City was celebrated across the country, and Canadians gained a deeper insight into our country's origins and the importance of this great Canadian city.

More recently, we saw patriotism reach an all-time high as we got behind our athletes who revelled in the success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the west coast.

Also, the three royal visits over the past two years have also united Canadians from coast to coast to coast in embracing our past and expressing our hopes for this important institution in the future.

These celebrations allowed people across the country and visitors from around the world to discover Canada and its history, landscape, and culture, our artists, our communities, and our official languages. They gave us an opportunity as Canadians to express our deep pride and strength across the country.

Canada's 150th has the potential to be an even greater celebration than what we've seen, in every respect, because it will in fact involve all Canadians from all communities of all sizes in projects and celebrations of every description that will not only honour our past, but also inspire a bright future.

Our government understands the importance of the history of the symbols of heritage, and the values that unite Canadians as a great nation. The Speech from the Throne states it quite clearly: Canadians are united by core values, a shared history, and a sense of common purpose. Our government will join Canadians in celebrating our heritage, in promoting our values, and in standing for what is right on the world stage.

In the next few years, Canada will celebrate some incredible milestones. And they will all culminate in Canada's 150th birthday in 2017. This anniversary represents an opportunity to celebrate major events that have shaped our history and contributed to our national identity.

Clearly, however, the most important thing for us to continue to tackle is to continue to work together to have this committee stir up ideas, to bring witnesses before this committee who have great ideas on how Parliament can contribute to a national dialogue on how we move forward. There will be commemorations that will take place over the next few years that will allow us to build momentum toward our 150th anniversary and we'll be chipping in and supporting them across the country.

Common themes that will tie these milestones together include: responsible government, democracy, and freedom; strong symbols and solid institutions; rights and duties of citizenship, a shared commitment to fellow citizens and the rule of law; our veterans, a proud military history rooted in sacrifice and service to our country; and ourselves as everyday Canadians who make contributions every day in every way to the evolution of our country.

The anniversaries that will serve as signposts along the way to 2017 will remind us of the important events, key battles, significant people, and major accomplishments that shaped our great country and our identity. Our government will highlight these anniversaries to strengthen national identity and help build a shared understanding of Canadian history.

As you know, just last week, I announced our government's plans for commemorating the most imminent—and one of the most significant—anniversaries: the 200th anniversary of the declaration of the War of 1812. The war was a defining event in Canada's history. Without the War of 1812, Canada as we know it would not exist. Without the War of 1812, the French fact in our country would not exist as it does today. Without the War of 1812, the identity of our aboriginal population would have been fundamentally changed. The War of 1812 paved the way for Confederation, and it was instrumental in the creation of the Canadian military. Those who fought for Canada are Canadian heroes. People like Sir Isaac Brock, Charles-Michel de Salaberry, Tecumseh, and Laura Secord. The War of 1812 was the fight for Canada, and commemorating the war is important.

That's why over the next three years our government will be investing significant funds to increase Canadians' awareness of this defining event in our history. These funds will go to pan-Canadian educational campaigns, including a national documentary, a travelling museum exhibit, and the naming of October as the official month of commemoration of the War of 1812, as well as upgrading over 40 historic sites and supporting 100 local events, festivals, and re-enactments across the country.

As well, we're going to have a permanent memorial in Ottawa for the War of 1812 to honour Canadian heroes, and we're going to have recognition of our Canadian Forces regiments in 1812 ceremonies.

We will encourage Canadians to mark other key anniversaries in the next few years as well, so we can learn more about our history and our accomplishments.

Next year, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne--her diamond jubilee.

In the coming years, we will also remember the participation of Canadians in the First and Second World Wars, the creation of several Canadian regiments, and major battles that have punctuated Canadian military history.

We will mark the birthdays of such architects of our country and of Confederation as Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. We will commemorate key events that allowed our ancestors to lay the foundations of our country, such as the Charlottetown and Quebec City conferences and the establishment of the first responsible government in Canada. And we will celebrate great achievements that have changed the face of our country and our society, like the establishment of a colony near Red River, the Canadian Arctic expedition, granting women's right to vote, and adopting our national flag.

Other upcoming anniversaries that have marked our history include the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the 100th anniversary of the NHL, and the 25th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In 2017, all these celebrations will culminate in the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Our government wants the 150th celebrations in 2017 to inspire just as much pride and national sense of identity and belonging as the centennial celebrations in 1967 and Vancouver 2010 put together. We want them to leave a lasting memory in the minds and hearts of all Canadians. That's why this committee's undertaking of the study to bring forward ideas and Canadians who have thoughts and considerations on how we might best do this is very important.

I want to underline our government's commitment to our throne speech commitment to unite Canadians from coast to coast in this moment of national celebration. I think it's a great way to start this committee's consideration of events related to Canada's heritage by working on an issue that is I think beyond partisanship but is something in which all Canadians will be more than anxious to take part for the benefit of Canada's future.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Excuse my sore throat.

9 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Minister Moore.

We'll begin our rounds of questioning.

I'll remind you that Minister Moore is here today discussing the 150th anniversary of our country, so I would ask the committee members to keep the questions relatively on that topic. I'm sure Minister Moore will be appearing before this committee in the future on other topics.

With that, Mr. Young, you have seven minutes.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for coming here today. I appreciate it.

You talked about Canada's celebration of some incredible milestones leading up to 2017. In the past two weeks, the buzz about the War of 1812 has been growing in the media. Could you please tell the committee why it's important for Canadians to commemorate the War of 1812?

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Thank you for the question.

Well, there are two things. I mentioned it in my speech, but it really needs to be underlined because I know there were a couple—not many—of editorials that brought doubt to the purpose of our celebration and commemoration of the War of 1812.

There are very few moments pre-Confederation, pre-1867, that are pan-Canadian in consequence. and that in my judgment Canadians really have not been taught about in our classrooms. Did you know that, sadly, in only three of Canada's ten provinces is it mandatory to take a history class in order to graduate from high school? The three are Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Even that history is a bit shaky in terms of how one might think of a history class.

Very few Canadians really are taught about the importance of the War of 1812. I think that as a foundational moment going into 1867, it seemed only appropriate to talk about the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 as we head into 2017, so we highlighted that.

There are core aspects of the War of 1812 that I think are not well enough understood and that we hope will just.... The things I'm about to say I hope just trip off the tongue when Canadians are asked why the War of 1812 matters. It matters because it defined Canada's territorial integrity and our independence from the United States. The War of 1812 was important because without the War of 1812 the French fact is not protected in North America. Without the War of 1812, aboriginal Canadians would have probably suffered the same future as the American Indians did. So without the War of 1812, you don't get the defining moment of Canada's territorial and political integrity, where we're independent from the United States, independent from Europe, and set on a course toward Confederation in 1867. It is a seminal moment in the development of Canada and not very many Canadians, especially young Canadians, are taught that in school. I think that's a shame.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Can you please tell the committee what the government is doing to promote the telling of the history of the War of 1812?

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Well, we have a program, and it's actually across a number of government departments. In my department, the Department of Canadian Heritage, we are taking the lead on this, but Parks Canada is also involved.

We have historic sites. Last week I was down at Fort George in Niagara-on-the Lake. I visited Fort Erie, Fort York, Fort Mississauga, and many other sites. There are 40 historic sites across the country related to the War of 1812.

We have over 100 community events that are going to take place. We're going to be partnering with community groups.

The total cost to taxpayers of all this—we've been very upfront about it—is about $28 million. That's over the course of about four years. By the way, it's a very small amount relative to what the demand is, as is often the case, because for many communities--many aboriginal communities and many of those local communities where they saw the actual fighting--these are real moments of local identity, and what we want to have happen is to have this understood across the country.

As well, the footprint of the war was relatively small; it was in southwestern Ontario up to parts of Quebec. But the impact of the war was pan-Canadian in consequence, which is why we're supporting documentaries and educational materials that will be spread across the country.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

One of the best ways to connect with young people is social media. Are you doing anything with social media to connect with our young people?

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Indeed. We've experimented in the past with iPhone and iPad apps and mobile sites for BlackBerrys. I'm not convinced about the BlackBerry app store yet, its fluency, and it's very difficult to get.... I'm a big fan of the BlackBerry, but....

So what we did, actually, with the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this year was develop an iPad app. It works on both iPad and iPhone, of course. It was one of the top downloaded apps in all of Canada. It was incredibly popular. It went very well.

So if people are curious, they can go to 1812.gc.ca and download the iPhone and iPad apps and also have access to a mobile site for all BlackBerrys and Android phones. You can have access to all the information related to the War of 1812: historic sites related to the War of 1812, documents, key moments, and timelines of history. Everything that you would expect to be in there, we've jammed in there. Also, we have a mobile site that will be updated and modernized throughout the coming couple of years as we commemorate this, and of course there are Twitter, Facebook, and websites, etc.

I come from a family of teachers. If you don't make educational materials as convenient as possible for young Canadians, you often miss your mark in trying to reach new audiences. We don't want to invest all this money and put so much momentum behind a project and not really hit our key audience. So the answer is yes.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Can you please explain how our Canadian heritage institutions such as museums and the CBC will be used to promote the 150th anniversary?

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

So far there has been unanimity of energy and commitment by all of our institutions and crown corporations related to the Department of Canadian Heritage on projects related to Canada 2017.

For the people who we appoint to the boards of our national museums, to the CBC, to Library and Archives Canada, and to all these institutions, we generally look for people who are really forward-leaning, who are really enthusiastic about film, if we're appointing to Telefilm or the NFB, or who are really enthusiastic about the pan-Canadian infrastructure that is the CBC for disseminating Canadian information to Canadians. We try to appoint people who are thoughtful, who think outside of the box, who bring new ideas to the table, who challenge the status quo, and who come up with thoughtful entrepreneurial ideas on how to spread things.

For example, this year is the CBC's 75th anniversary. They produced and showed a phenomenal show on John A. Macdonald that was I think almost unanimously critically acclaimed for its quality. They've engaged in this process. They're looking forward to 2017.

Our national museums are planning travelling exhibits and staging them out. I know that the War Museum, the Museum of Civilization, and the National Gallery all have different travelling exhibits they're preparing, from now through 2017. They are very forward-leaning and hopeful about what they can accomplish.

I think everybody's using 2017 as a moment to cantilever on all kinds of really great programs. I think we'll get Canada's collections, our history, our art, and our incredible diversity of educational materials all across the country. Partnerships with local and regional museums are something that everybody is looking forward to.

I can say in full sincerity that I have nothing but good things to say about Canada's partners and the way in which they are really enthusiastically tackling 2017.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Young.

Mr. Benskin.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Thank you, Mr. Moore. It's a pleasure to have you here and to speak to you on this subject.

I've said at this committee a number of times that you're not going to find a bigger flag-waver than me, especially when it comes to Canadian identity and Canadian culture.

We are celebrating the 150th anniversary in 2017, but the elements that would make up Canada existed a long time before that. I'm sure you're aware that 2017 is also the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal.

I was wondering if there were any plans to roll that into the celebrations of the 150th anniversary.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

There are plans.

By the way, it's refreshing to have a proud Canadian patriot on the opposition benches, as opposed to what we've seen over the past decade, and congratulations on your appointment.

The answer is yes, but all these things have to be done in partnership, and I think it worked very well in the 400th anniversary of Quebec City.

Certainly, the last thing Quebeckers want—or any Canadian wants—is the federal government and a heritage minister who is from Vancouver going into Montreal to say, “Here's how we envision things”. It's not how you do it. It's not respectful. It's not the right way to do it, so we work in partnership.

The City of Montreal, which is really one of the cultural capitals of the planet, obviously is going to have a very ambitious, very large, and very exciting program. I'm sure you know that Montreal is home to the largest comedy festival in the world, the largest jazz festival in the world, and the second-largest—they argue the largest, but I think it's the second-largest—St. Patrick's Day on the planet.

Montreal does everything big, and they do it very well, I think, certainly on the cultural side. I'm looking forward to working with the mayor. I know you're the heritage critic for the opposition, but you come from Montreal, so working with you on specific projects will add a pan-Canadian scope to Canada's second-largest city but will also be respectful of the fact that this is a Montreal celebration as much as it is a Canadian one.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

That's great.

Along the same lines, Parks Canada is responsible for the Lachine Canal area, for example, which is both historic and a tourist attraction. Do you have any thoughts on how that might be developed a bit further from Parks Canada...?