House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Madam Speaker, Windsor--St. Clair is in the southwestern part of the province not far from Ipperwash. In fact I spent a summer at the military camp a good number of years ago. This issue has always been particularly close to me because of my knowledge of that area.

I would like to take some umbrage with the member of the Alliance who suggested that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre was bringing the motion to the House for purely political purposes. That quite frankly is offensive given that he is our critic for Indian affairs. He has intimate knowledge of the issue. For the number years since it happened he has followed it and been very concerned about the lack of an inquiry on the part of the Ontario provincial government.

I do not have a lot of time and I will therefore confine my comments to the role the federal government should have in this matter. It is simply too easy and not accurate for the government to say it has no jurisdiction. My colleague from Winnipeg Centre and various authorities have said there are grounds for a public inquiry to be appointed by the federal government under its fiduciary responsibility to the first nations, the aboriginal people, or quite frankly it could be under its treaty power. A number of the issues involved here involve the old treaties with the first nations. It could be under its criminal power. The federal government has any number of bases from a jurisdictional standpoint for it to appoint an inquiry.

This brings me back to the unjustified allegations from the Alliance member. We are faced in Ontario with allegations that put political interference right at the door of the highest elected official in the province. If the premier called the inquiry, and he certainly has shown no indication to do so, there would always be the risk that the people who were appointed to the inquiry would be seen as being in conflict because of the source of their appointment. The terms of reference of the inquiry could be formulated in such a way that it would not be fair to the George family, or it could be perceived that way. The amount of money given to the inquiry could be insufficient for a full inquiry. The list could be drawn out almost infinitely.

Let us use a different scenario around the problems of the provincial government setting up the inquiry and assume that after the next provincial election a different political party is in government. We would hear allegations like that of the Alliance member that the inquiry was being set up from that perspective and that it was being vindictive toward the former government. An additional reason would be that whatever scenario we take, whether it was done by the existing government or by a new government of some other party, there would be a taint to the inquiry if it was done at the provincial level.

We are a confederated country. The federal government has a role to play when we run into this type of conflict. I would strongly urge the government to consider that conflict of interest issue.

When the federal government looks at whether it should be looking into the death of Dudley George and all of the incidents and consequences around it, that alone should be a major motivating factor for it to support my colleague's motion and call this inquiry.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am glad to have a few minutes to wrap up and summarize some of what we have heard.

I appreciate the remarks by the member for Windsor--St. Clair. He added another element to the debate as to why it is appropriate that the federal government and not the provincial government should hold the inquiry into the incidents at Ipperwash.

There are substantive issues that connect the federal government to the events at Ipperwash. I have outlined some of them. Surely, when the federal government sent military equipment to the paramilitary operation that went on there, it was involved. Surely, as was pointed out by another member, when DND used the War Measures Act to occupy the area and create the military base in 1942 and then failed to give it back, which was really the origin of the whole problem, the federal government was implicated. The ongoing fiduciary responsibility to aboriginal peoples and land claims connects the federal government. If there is one more reason needed, CSIS had a plant among the 35 protesters for the whole period of time and was reporting directly to the federal government their opinion that this was to be a peaceful protest and the people were unarmed.

All of those reasons show that the federal government was linked in substantive ways. The only question left is does the federal government have jurisdiction in the matter?

As I pointed out, the federal government can call a public inquiry into any matter that relates to peace, order and good government. It not only has the ability, we believe it has an obligation.

Again, Professor Bruce Ryder cites that federal jurisdiction in relation to Indian lands reserved for Indians under section 91 of the Constitution Act provides a solid constitutional basis for a federal inquiry, and there could be no doubt of the involvement.

What that inquiry would look like and how it would be struck would be up to the federal government. However, there are guidelines under the Federal Inquiries Act, which also gives primacy over provincial statutes that may be inconsistent. It would have the ability to call witnesses. I do not believe it would have the ability to call elected officials who are currently holding office, but it would be able to call witnesses from the OPP to find out what happened on that fateful day when, as we suspect and as a growing body of evidence would indicate, the premier and at least one cabinet minister met with them on September 6 and we believe interfered incorrectly or improperly with the police action at Ipperwash.

Those witnesses could be brought forward and made to testify with the same power of law that any court enjoys and with the same rules of evidence, et cetera.

On behalf of the George family, I am very glad to have been able to bring this motion to the House of Commons. I know that Sam George, Dudley's brother, who filed the civil suit has reiterated his willingness as recently as last week to drop the civil suit if a federal inquiry were called. I can certainly empathize and sympathize with what the family has been going through in trying to get to the bottom of this very tragic event.

Members of the aboriginal community as a whole are very eager to have this issue given the attention it deserves because they take it as an affront. As has been pointed out to me, when kids were pepper sprayed at UBC there was a full blown national inquiry, but when a person was shot and killed at a peaceful protest, we have had six years of silence from the federal government. It could be viewed and is being viewed by some in the aboriginal community as a race based decision in terms of prioritizing these events.

I am disappointed it is not a votable motion. I will go through the futile gesture to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to deem this motion to be votable.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Does the House give consent to the member's request?

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It being 6.27 p.m. the time provided for debate has expired. The House will now proceed to the consideration of the second item of private member's business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 18 consideration of the motion that Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate), be read the third time and passed.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

December 6th, 2001 / 6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, it is very pleasant that we are debating a bill on the value of poetry. I will begin by quoting a bit of poetry. I am sure we will hear some more tonight.

What is it that matters most? Is it the busy bustling of the day to day mundane tasks That carry us morning, noon and night? Is it the grand game of gain, Whether items of allure, wealth, stature, power?

We lay waste the value of noble thoughts, noble goals. Is it not these that matter most and Love and truth, Honour and integrity, The beauty of nature and All things well and good?

Often it has been stated that arts and culture, particularly poetry, is the window to the soul of a nation. The value we attribute to poetry, to the arts, is a reflection of deeper meaning things. It is an opportunity to express ourselves in ways that we do not often take time to do in our busy lives. Often we move from one task to another without stopping to enjoy the beautiful parts of our lives, the beautiful gifts of our lives and all the opportunities we have in them. Regardless of our situation or our station in life, we all have an ability to look at things through a positive lens.

I obviously am quite supportive of the bill and the notion of having a poet laureate. As the bill states, the parliamentary poet laureate “shall write poetry especially for use in parliament on occasions of state; sponsor poetry readings; give advice to the Parliamentary Librarian regarding the library's collection and acquisitions to enrich its cultural holdings; and perform such other related duties as are requested by either Speaker or the Parliamentary Librarian”.

My colleague from St. John's West set the bar rather high on the debate earlier. Members may remember the speech he delivered in such eloquent prose. I do not dare attempt to match that lofty standard set by my hon. friend from St. John's West, but I certainly do share his enjoyment of poetry as I am sure all members do.

It is a good opportunity when there is a bill of this sort. I anticipate that there likely will be very little disagreement and lots of good poetry. In the interest of getting to the exquisite poetry that will be offered by our colleagues, I simply will conclude by saying that I support the bill, as do most members of the coalition. I am quite certain most members support this great idea.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a delight to address this particular bill because I believe that poetry in many ways gives beauty to life. In this place many of our speeches are sometimes highly technical and sometimes perhaps even a little boring from time to time. Perhaps it is a good idea to lift our spirits a little higher, to encourage our imagination.

Poetry is very rhythmic and sometimes the rhythm is very regular, other times it is somewhat irregular, but rhythm there is. Rhythm reflects life probably better than anything else because where do we not have rhythm. We have rhythm in music, rhythm in life. We have the rhythm of day and night. We have the rhythm of pain and pleasure. Rhythm is there for all of us.

The poet laureate and the definition of the poet laureate is probably expressed best by the minister of culture in Great Britain. He put it together in a single sentence, which I like. He said:

The Poet Laureate is a voice for poetry and a voice for the nation through poetry.

It is wonderful that that kind of thing can happen. I want to commend the member who brought this forward as a motion to amend the Parliamentary Act so that we would have a poet laureate.

In tribute to poetry, I would like to read a couple of poems that might express some of this as far as Canada is concerned. I would like to begin by quoting a poem written by Robert Frost, which in British Columbia we find particularly meaningful because it has to do with logging.

It is entitled “Out, Out--”.

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood, Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it. And from there those that lifted eyes could count Five mountain ranges one behind the other Under the sunset far into Vermont. And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled, As it ran light, or had to bear a load. And nothing happened: day was all but done. Call it a day, I wish they might have said To please the boy by giving him the half hour That a boy counts so much when saved from work. His sister stood beside them in her apron To tell the 'Supper.' At the word, the saw, As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap-- He must have given the hand. However it was, Neither refused the meeting. But the hand! The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh, As he swung toward the holding up the hand Half in appeal, but half as if to keep The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all-- Since he was old enough to know, big boy Doing a man's work, though a child at heart-- He saw all spoiled. 'Don't let him cut my hand off-- The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!' So. But the hand was gone already. The doctor put him in the dark of ether. He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath. And then--the watcher at his pulse took fright. No one believed. They listened at his heart. Little--less--nothing!--and that ended it. No more to build on there. And they, since they Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

The soul, the experience, the life, the rhythm of a nation of working people, but there is a lot more than that to life. There are also the values that we hold and the relationships we have one to another as this boy had a family, a sister a father and a mother.

William Shakespeare wrote a sonnet which has been with me since I was in high school. It is one of those that I found extremely expressive of what I was going through and what I was thinking. It is Sonnet 116, probably the most formal form of poetry one can write. It is very difficult to do but Shakespeare was a master at it. I really like the sonnet and I would like to read it. I hope our poet laureates will write like this.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments; love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no, it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his heighth be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Would it not be great if our relationships were characterized that way. “Love is not love” but “it is an ever-fixed mark”. That is a beautiful image.

Canada gave an honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela. When he was with the Prime Minister in the beautiful decor, I thought it would have been nice to have had a poet laureate present. At that time, I was unaware we had this bill coming up. I thought that would be the ideal place to have that.

I thought about the kind of poem I could refer to that would fit that kind of occasion. I looked at the words of Kahlil Gibran some time back. He writes some interesting material. He has written on giving, and I would like to read his words. Our nation gave to another person in honour of the freedom that he exemplified with his life and his dedication to sacrifice for freedom. The book, The Prophet , depicts giving. I would like to read his words into the record.

Then said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving. And he answered: You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when you well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable? There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth. It is well to give when asked, but is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the seasons of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'. You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

That is what we did as a nation. We gave an honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela.

Three different occasions in life have been expressed by three different poets in a very different form.

It would be wonderful if our nation could give its citizens and our colleagues here in the House the experience, at least once a year, of a poet laureate reading good, solid poetry that he or she has written and would like to demonstrate. It would lift the spirit of our nation a little higher. I support the bill.

Parliament of Canada Act
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of Bill S-10 are deemed put, and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Tuesday, December 11, 2001, at 3 p.m.

It being 6.43 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.43 p.m.)