Evidence of meeting #9 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 montreal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Excellency Justin Hugh Brown  High Commissioner for Australia to Canada, Australian High Commission
  • André Picard  Vice-President, Public and Corporate Affairs, Just For Laughs Group
  • Louise Pothier  Director, Exhibitions and Technologies, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History

9:05 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

So, if I understood correctly, these events were developed and planned by the communities? Is that right?

9:05 a.m.

Justin Hugh Brown

In many cases, yes, but not in every case. In some of the individual projects at the community level, the communities were free to put forward proposals for funding from the national council. In many cases they were approved, provided they came within the guidelines and the criteria established by the council. It was a bottom-up process or a community-level process, as well as a top-down process.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Thank you. I'll pass along the remaining time to Mr. Cash.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Thank you, Marjolaine.

Thank you for being here, Your Excellency.

I wanted to ask you about the governance of the centenary, the national council. This was a non-partisan, independent body. Why did the Australian government go in that direction to organize this celebration?

9:10 a.m.

Justin Hugh Brown

I think all governments are sensitive about charges of being guilty of using national commemorations for party political purposes.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

I've never heard of that before--

9:10 a.m.

Justin Hugh Brown

It's very rare, I know--

9:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

9:10 a.m.

Justin Hugh Brown

--but even in my country it has been known to happen occasionally.

In this case, I think the issue was really to get away from a celebration that could have been interpreted as giving undue weight to the particular views of a particular political party or a particular element of the community.

As I said earlier, the objective was very clear: not Sydney-centric; very strong emphasis on community-level, bottom-up processes; and nationwide. Also, to take the politics out of it was a key objective.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

In terms of organizing voices from the regions and from the federal government, politics is always in play, of course, when you're trying to organize a non-partisan body. What was the process you went through to put this council together?

9:10 a.m.

Justin Hugh Brown

As in Canada, our federal government very rarely has the same political complexion as our state and territory governments. We have a mixture of parties representing us. So any federal-state cooperative project has to be, by definition, a political compromise. Once that compromise is reached by federation-wide partisan consensus, it does ripple down throughout the process.

When the national council was formed, the criteria were set, and the key guidelines were developed, that was all a joint partnership of the federal, state, and territory governments of all political complexions. I think that at the time the federal government was Conservative, but historically, Australian state governments have been social democratic Labour Party governments.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

So that billion-dollar fund--

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Cash.

We'll move on to Mr. Simms.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Thank you, Chair.

As you mentioned, it seems as if there was a concerted effort to stay away from the Sydney-centric type of appeal of these celebrations, as community-based as it was. It seems that two things are at play here. A particular state may have a certain existence and historical context that they want to celebrate that may be different from the rest of the country. I say that because, me being from Newfoundland, we have a kinship with the people of Tasmania, for reasons that are obvious.

9:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!