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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

Peter Aykroyd  Professional Engineer, As an Individual
Peter MacLeod  Principal, MASS LBP
Colin Jackson  Chair, imagiNation 150 (Calgary)

10 a.m.

Chair, imagiNation 150 (Calgary)

Colin Jackson

Thank you.

A gift could be as simple as moving your barbecue to the front lawn and inviting neighbours you've never met to a conference on the future of Confederation.

One of the elements that fascinates me, which would be difficult for the government to engage in but which it probably should, is what our obligations are. We speak frequently about our rights to vote, human rights, and so forth, and they're to be celebrated, of course. But my understanding is that my obligations as a Canadian are to pay taxes and to serve on a jury, if called, and that's about it. Is that sufficient? Is there something more we could wrap around this notion of our formal obligations to each other?

To the point about corporate involvement and business involvement, my experience so far--of course, it's very short, it's just a year old--is that there's a quick willingness to explore the contribution of finances and time. But a question I'm getting from all kinds of businesses in Calgary is on how they involve employees. Well, maybe it's that you go to Tim's, buy some coffee, get some donuts, and have a conversation about what we can do as a business for the centenary.

Corporations, again, in Calgary and elsewhere, have remarkable networks nationally and internationally. That's to Peter's point about how we recognize our global nature. Well, Nexen has business interests in the North Sea, in the Middle East, and in many places. Those are networks we can activate.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

You're out of time.

10 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

I'm out of time.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Next is Mr. Young.

November 3rd, 2011 / 10 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, gentlemen, for coming here today and for giving your time. It's very informative for us.

I'm a little older than Mr. Brown and Mr. Armstrong, so I actually knew the song very well by Bobby Gimby, the Pied Piper, about Canada. That's very memorable for my generation, my group, anyway.

I also wanted to thank Mr. Peter Aykroyd for his definition of patriotism. It is very simple: “[T]his is my home, my native land.” I'm sure that this “Anniversary Axiomatic” will be very helpful as a template or guide for this committee and for the government.

It must be nice to be called back. They still need you. They still need your advice.

Mr. Aykroyd, you commented that one suggestion you had for the 150th is to involve the private sector more. Do you have any other suggestions to make our 150th more exciting?

10 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

It's too complicated and too extensive a question to be answered in anything but a very extensive omnibus way, and I'm not capable of doing that.

There are lots of suggestions. I noticed in the paper given to me by the clerk of your committee that there are quite a few suggestions already for you to start on. I think that's not a bad beginning. I appreciate the work that was done to put that together.

That's my best answer to that.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Okay, that's helpful as well. Thank you very much.

One of the things I'm interested in for the 150th celebration, and leading up to it— we want this to be a celebration that leads up to 2017--is telling Canadian stories. For example, I don't think very many Canadians know that Sir John Graves Simcoe, the first governor of Ontario, banned slavery in Upper Canada 60 years before the American Civil War, and not a shot was fired. I'd love to see that story told in film or dance or opera or whatever.

Peter MacLeod, I wanted to ask if you have any suggestions on how to involve Canadians in the arts more in the celebrations.

10:05 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

Well, I think, actually, Colin, who is the head of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and the Epcor Centre for the arts in Calgary may have more suggestions about that.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

I'm going to ask him as well.

10:05 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

All right, good.

I think the arts are still important, because they convey a kind of vitality, right? They are a place for experimentation and a place for public imagination. It's arts high and low. You look to Toronto, where we have the incredible Manifesto urban arts festival that happens every year. Again, it's not about creating everything anew. It's about connecting with organizations and giving them a nudge right now, which doesn't necessarily mean funding. It means just saying to start thinking now. Suggest to all the arts associations that this year is a good time to bring it up at the AGM and to come before this committee perhaps in the future to share with you their plans. You have tremendous convening power to ask any of these arts executives to do the homework required to think about how the arts can play a role.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Do you have any thoughts on seed money or contests, or anything like that?

10:05 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

Money that can be put toward convening is really important.

This may be a broader point about the sesquicentennial, but no one has asked about how well we are going to use Facebook and Twitter and technology to make this all great. Of course, it's going to play an important role, but let's not forget that in the centennial the federal government funded the movement of hundreds of thousands of high school students on buses and trains across the country so they could simply see their country. Canada hasn't gotten any smaller in the course of the past 40-odd years. We're going to need the federal government to continue, as William Thorsell has written, to help people mix up, move around, and see their country. We need that at the planning stage. We need that as part of the celebration.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

I'd like to ask Mr. Jackson the same question about ways to involve people in the arts telling Canadian stories.

10:05 a.m.

Chair, imagiNation 150 (Calgary)

Colin Jackson

To build on what Peter is saying, I believe very much in the government's convening ability, but also the challenging ability. I think funding is necessary but not necessarily funding. I think there is an obligation that can be promoted for those of us who benefit from being part of this nation, to contribute to this nation, regardless of whether we're funded. If we require and can make the case for public funding for this particular project, excellent. But we should be doing it anyway. I would argue strongly with you that the first thought isn't seed funding; the first thought is articulating a challenge.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

That's very helpful.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Young.

Mr. Benskin.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Thank you all for being here and for your presentations.

I'm going to pick up on what Mr. Jackson was saying in terms of what I might put forward as a recommendation, that this government actually throw out that challenge. The fact that these discussions are happening right now for 2017 is not very known, in the sense that the public itself is not aware that we're having these discussions.

I was struck by the logos, the photos that you put out there, and the fact that these things were sort of...this logo was sent out and said “Hey, use this”. The idea still came from the people, but the connective tissue, as you said, was the identifying marker that this was a Canadian centennial project. What I'm also hearing from this group is that there seems to be a consensus that the success of this was the fact that it came from the individuals.

Again, sort of scanning through this book, I saw the logo and I was reminded of the high school program they had for those of us who were of that period. It was the forerunner to ParticipAction. You had a series of exercises that you had to do and limits that you had to get to. You got a bronze patch or a silver patch or a gold patch. That was part of that as well, because it had the centennial symbol in there. If I may, those are the types of programs that you're advocating, as far as creating the groundswell of activity and participation of Canadians.

Would that be a good assessment?

10:10 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

I think you're right on the money with that one. You know, sending out badges and things like that, and Expo printing up its passports--how much did that really cost? Very, very little, and look what a mark it made on a generation of Canadians. Since I started following the centennial beat, you wouldn't believe how many people have said “I think I still have my Expo passport somewhere”, and they really prize it.

Right now, I don't think it's about getting Canadians all fired up about this sesquicentennial. They have lots of other things to focus on for the next couple of years. But, boy, we're almost a little bit behind the game already when it comes to getting the associations.... Is the Canadian Council of Chief Executives going to call all of its members together to have a conference about this in the next year? It probably should. The educators or the artists, are they going to come together in the next year to think about their plans? They probably should. Again, I think this committee can do a lot of good by putting that challenge to them, as Colin said.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Thank you.

One of the things that struck me was the simplicity. How do you think, in today's more apathetic era...1967 was really looking forward. There was that sense of growth: these are the things that we're capable of doing as Canadians. Fifty years later, there's a little bit of malaise happening right now. What would you suggest in terms of the possibilities of getting people excited about the country again, and getting people excited about who they are as Canadians?

That's for any one of you.

10:10 a.m.

Professional Engineer, As an Individual

Peter Aykroyd

I would suggest it might be if the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party both had strong leaders tomorrow.

10:10 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

We're working on that.

10:10 a.m.

Chair, imagiNation 150 (Calgary)

Colin Jackson

My experience so far is that there's a great deal of dry tinder waiting to be ignited: the challenge issue, the challenge opportunity, the challenge possibility. I was speaking a couple of days ago with a friend who is a significant philanthropist and is going to make a truly major gift to a national institution, and immediately he went to the notion of, well, why don't I do that in the spirit of 150? Gifts will probably occur anyway, and maybe in the same quantum, but they could be “in the spirit of”.

I had the same conversation with some of the leadership in corporate Calgary. They all have corporate responsibility groups or foundations, and they make contributions to community projects and enterprises. How about branding those gifts for the next few years in the spirit of 150? Again, it can happen through existing channels, through projects as simple as making a cupcake and taking it to the lady next door.

10:10 a.m.

Principal, MASS LBP

Peter MacLeod

We did some polling around the conference centre. I know Keith Neuman was here, and he probably told you that among francophones and anglophones, it's actually allophones who are most excited to celebrate.

We often talk a lot about civic apathy. I'm in the public engagement game, but it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This occasion is really what we decide to make it. If you look at this ad again, the headline is “[It] turned out to be the most fun we've had in years! Were you surprised?” Most people didn't think the centennial was going to be that much fun at all, and we amazed ourselves, just as we did recently with the Vancouver Olympics.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Benskin.

Just a note to members. The lights flashing and the bells going mean we have votes. They are 30-minute bells, which technically means we would have to end our committee meeting now. With unanimous consent of the committee members, we could continue for 15 more minutes.

Is there unanimous consent to continue for 15 more minutes?