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House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, judges in the courts have made various rulings over the course of time that have changed our laws with regard to juveniles and others. We as a parliament and a country are in the position of trying to pass laws that make up for the problems caused by the courts. For example, juvenile offences have increased as the courts have made these changes.

Why do we end up in the eternal legislative process, that the Liberal government has instituted over the years, of having the courts interpret laws that are passed in parliament that are not explicit in their intent?

I was a police officer who enforced the Juvenile Delinquents Act. It actually worked better than the current young offender laws that we have now and probably worked better than what we are trying to pass in the House.

There is no doubt that in the mid-seventies the respect that juveniles had for people in official office such as mayors, reeves, policemen, pastors and others went down.

I would also make the observation that there is no point in dumping more money into legal aid because it is just like any other fund. The legal profession will expand the time and the charges to take up all the money put in and use it all up.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the first point the hon. member made with respect to the need to explain a system such as this. There should be an accompanying fund that sets out a manual or some sort of program to educate people because of the complex nature of the new bill.

With respect to his point on hiring more lawyers, what we have in the legal aid system is that much of the work is done on a certificate basis. The cases are farmed out. Sadly, a lot of senior lawyers, and perhaps more able, do not take those cases because the certificates allow for a cap on billing which is necessary. We may have to revisit the system or simply hire more lawyers within the legal aid system because they cannot keep up with the volume.

The hon. member is right to say it is not just a matter of pouring in more money. We must recognize the volume of work being done by lawyers, prosecutors and police. I acknowledge his understanding of the previous Juvenile Delinquents Act. As a police officer he would recall that there did appear to be a greater degree of accountability and responsibility. I would go so far as to say that there was more respect for the law, for police and for all the stakeholders involved in enforcing the law under that particular system. It was that act's simplicity and the way in which it was enforced that made it work in perhaps a more proficient way.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough on his comments in regard to the way the old act worked and the feeling that it worked much better because of the convolution of the new act. He commented on judges and lawyers he knows and their thoughts on the bill and the previous act.

I was a school trustee for a number of years. In attending the Canadian national school board conference we had a couple of judges appear before us to give their comments on the Young Offenders Act. Many felt that the act that was in place previously was actually excellent. The problem was the lack of resources to ensure the type of rehabilitation that was intended.

That is one of the issues that comes before us with this bill. There would be increased costs that the provinces could not bear. It is an indication that the government's attitude toward the provinces is bad. It is also negligent for the federal government to give up its responsibility for the young people and to say that it is a provincial problem and not share the issue of dealing with the Young Offenders Act.

The member mentioned the Quebec system. I know my colleague from Selkirk--Interlake has some concerns that differ from a lot of us. Would the hon. member comment on the Quebec system and indicate why it seems to work a whole lot better?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the issue with respect to teachers is a very good one. There must be a specific recognition in legislation that teachers need to be informed and included. The bill falls short in that respect.

There was an opportunity to ensure that teachers would be provided with, in particular, conditions of probation orders that were attached to a young person. There are often instances where young people find themselves in court for a criminal offence that occurred in a schoolyard and they are sentenced to go back to school. Sometimes the parameters of their probation orders are not made known to the principals and the teachers who are operating in the schools.

The second issue with respect to funding is critical. There is bridge funding in the amount of $207 million attached to the legislation which is supposed to help with the start up costs but as stated previously each province is estimating that up to $100 million per province would be necessary. So, $207 million spread among all the provinces and territories would come up far short. The critical issue would be the inability of the provinces to bear the costs of enforcement and implementation.

Finally, the 160 amendments to Bill C-7 proposed by the Liberal government did not convince Quebecers of the merits of the reform of our youth justice system. On the contrary.

When the committee of the other place studied the bill, most of the witnesses from Quebec said that the amendments were nothing but cosmetic amendments that did not change the principles and the contradictory provisions of Bill C-7.

Moreover, these amendments did not weaken the large consensus in Quebec that Quebec's approach to youth crime would be threatened should this bill be passed.

That approach, which is unique in Canada, is cited as an example all over the world. It has allowed Quebec to have the lowest youth crime rate and the lowest youth detention rate in the country. Unfortunately, these achievements are being threatened by the intransigence of the new Minister of Justice.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to congratulate the member on the last part of his remarks where he talked about the consensus that exists in Quebec among all the experts in the field.

Members know that Quebec has developed a very effective model that is unique. The federal government will pass a bill that goes against the Quebec model, even though the minister is himself a Quebecer. I think it is totally irresponsible and unacceptable on his part.

However, I want to congratulate the member on his speech, in which he recognized the fact that Quebec has its own unique model.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier to the hon. member who represented the Bloc, I believe that the Quebec model is one that the rest of the country can certainly embrace and use to a larger degree.

It does demonstrate that there is flexibility under the current Young Offenders Act. Quebec has interpreted in a very open and intellectual way just how unique one can work within that system.

Under the old act, I would suggest that we could benefit by looking at Quebec, but certainly by putting in more resources, living up to our commitment as a federal government to the provinces to fund this important approach. We must give the system the money, the resources and the backup it needs to serve the interests of youth and the public at large.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.

Last fall the House of Commons passed Bill C-7, the youth criminal justice act, at third reading stage. The bill has now been returned from the other place with an amendment which must now be considered by the House. The amendment came from the Liberals in the other place and the government is supporting it. I will oppose this amendment for reasons I will go into in a moment.

If memory serves me right, a similar amendment was proposed by the government at the justice committee during deliberations on Bill C-3, which of course died on the order paper at the last election call. Interestingly though, it was not in the bill when it was reintroduced as Bill C-7 but now it shows up from the other place.

This amendment would in part change the purpose and the principles of sentencing, requiring that “all available sanctions other than custody that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all young persons”. I take little issue with this. Of course we should consider all reasonable options before resorting to incarceration for many offences, especially minor first offences.

The second part of the amendment requires youth court judges to pay particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal youth at the time of sentencing, similar to section 718.2(e) of the criminal code, which we opposed in the 35th parliament for similar reasons.

Personally, I do not believe that race has any place in criminal law sentencing provisions, be it adult or young offender. A sentencing judge is already required to consider “any other aggravating and mitigating circumstances related to the young person”. These would normally include factors such as family and social circumstances, background and special needs, among other things.

Further to that, the bill's declaration of principles says in part:

--measures taken against young persons who commit offences should...be meaningful for the individual young person given his or her needs and level of development and, where appropriate, involve the parents, the extended family, the community and social or other agencies in the young person's rehabilitation and reintegration, and...respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences and respond to the needs of aboriginal young persons and of young persons with special requirements--

These requirements are already sufficient for a sentencing judge to give consideration to any young person. The operative word here is any. There is no reason whatsoever to bring a person's race into play. I believe that the injection of race specific wording in the criminal law is dangerous. Criminal law should be blind to race.

I think we have all heard comments about the aboriginal community being over-represented in our jails. I acknowledge that, but I do not for a moment believe they were incarcerated for being aboriginal. They are there because they have been convicted of committing a criminal offence. If, as it is sometimes argued, it is shown that bias against aboriginal offenders exists in the courts or in the system in general, then that is wrong and by all means it must be rectified.

Also I do suspect that in many cases incarceration is the only option available to the court due to the lack of resources and support mechanisms in the community. I think we all agree that those issues must be addressed and remedied. Equally as, if not more important, the substandard social and living conditions experienced by many aboriginals both on and off reserve must be rectified. That being said, I do not believe that the criminal law is the appropriate place to address those issues.

I have heard the point made that children coming to Canada from parts of the world where war, civil strife and violence are commonplace may be more predisposed to antisocial or criminal behaviour as teenagers or adults than are children born and raised in Canada. However at no time have I ever heard anyone suggest that those people representative of parts of Southeast Asia, the Balkans, or parts of Africa, to mention but a few, be singled out by race in the criminal code for special consideration. The courts consider their mitigating factors in the same way as any other offender, as I described earlier.

If our goal is to achieve the equality of all people, how can we justify race specific sanctions under the criminal law? Can we reasonably expect tolerance and respect when some offenders based solely on their racial origin are singled out for less punitive sanctions than offenders of all other racial origins, all other things, including circumstances of the offence being equal?

Imagine for one moment the well deserved hue and cry if we were to legislate the opposite, that individuals of one race be singled out for more punitive sanctions than all others.

I would like to quote Gail Sparrow, a former chief of the Musqueam Band in British Columbia. She was commenting on a case in which two Musqueam youths, one of whom was already on probation, were given conditional sentences for their involvement in a severe beating in Vancouver that put 17 year old Joel Libin into a coma and left him brain damaged.

Former Chief Sparrow said:

The message for younger kids now is, “Hey, they got off, and I can get off too, because there's a special law for us”. You're going to put the community at risk.

She went on to say that the sentences have left the Musqueam community angry:

The undercurrent here is that people are afraid to speak up because of the repercussions. They're asking, “Why do we have a separate set of laws for us? Now my son will go and beat somebody up and think it's no big thing because it's home arrest”. A lot of people didn't support that action. They're very upset.

Before some of my colleagues begin falling all over themselves to label me as a racist, anti-Indian and anything else that they can think of for opposing this amendment, I would remind them that the words I have just quoted were spoken by a former chief.

I oppose this amendment because it allows the criminal law to treat one specific group of people differently from all others based solely on their racial origin and nothing else. That is wrong.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege to administer the Juvenile Delinquents Act and the Young Offenders Act in the community.

The point I want to make is the government has particularly failed to deliver on its promise to provide the social resources. When a young offender is being processed through court and being given a sentence, there is not the backup of sharing with the province to provide an appropriate social solution for offenders.

What is my colleague's experience in his community about the consequences of the Liberal government failing to deliver on its promises for funding under the current youth legislation?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it has only affected my community. I certainly know what the problems are in the constituency of Surrey North and the city of Surrey. They are monumental. The costs of implementing and driving the youth justice system have risen. The funding is not there, but that is the case all across Canada. We heard from other members. I know our senior critic, the member for Provencher, has had personal experience of this, being a former attorney general. He has actually seen the problems. We have heard our colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough refer to this.

Funding is the bottom line. It is easy for the Liberal government to offload it on the provinces and tell everybody what they should do, but it is not backing it up with the proper funding and resources.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-14, an act respecting Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

January 30th, 2002 / 5:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

(Motion agreed to)

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, the perils of fame. This is the second time I have had the privilege to speak to the bill. I thought today I would locate our intention of passing a bill to honour the birthdays of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir John A. Macdonald in the context of where we find ourselves as a country on this day, in the same month by the way in which Sir John A. was born so many years ago.

Ever since September 11 I think all of us in Canada have been reflecting more soberly and more thoughtfully on the nature of sovereignty, specifically our sovereignty.

What does it mean to be a sovereign country? In some ways sovereignty is the very reason that countries exist.

It is indeed their purpose.

Countries do not just come into being by accident and they do not survive by accident. They come into being as purposeful creations. They come into being as the product of intention and they maintain themselves purposefully and with intention.

What is significant about the two men whom the bill would honour is the thoughtfulness, intention and purpose they had in conceiving of Canada and, equally important, the action that was inspired by that intention and that purpose, because purpose by itself and intention by itself will lead to nothing. We must have intentional action.

In his book Reflections of a Siamese Twin , John Ralston Saul speaks of the history of Canada as a series of what he calls great “strategic acts”, great decisions taken by the population as a whole, in that we want to change things, we want to be something.

Another way of describing these great strategic acts are national projects.

In French, this is called “projet de société”.

These projects are something in which the whole of society is consciously and purposefully dedicated to some common end and some common goal. Surely the act of Confederation itself is the greatest of all strategic acts, which brings me, of course, to the principal author of Confederation in 1867, Sir John A. Macdonald. In the great book which Donald Creighton wrote about Macdonald, he describes the context of Canada. He says that Macdonald used to think of Canada as a problem in isolation. Here is what Creighton says:

All too frequently the problem of governing a united yet divided province had been inextricably and yet distractingly connected with other puzzles--with the questions of western expansion, interprovincial union and external defence. In the past these complications had been intermittent; but now, as a result of the American Civil War, they threatened to become continuous. The peaceful relations between England and Canada on the one hand and the United States on the other might be endangered now at any moment and for years to come. The war might end in a division of the original republic and the independence of the Confederacy. It might end in a political turmoil throughout the entire continent, which would render meaningless all the old divisions and boundaries. These obvious threats to the independence and separateness, to the very existence, of British North America were a main consideration in the minds of Macdonald and his contemporaries; but there were other and more subtle ways in which the war [the civil war] influenced their speculations. It brought up for re-examination the whole question of political unions in general and federal unions in particular. It raised the still more fundamental problem of the validity of the democratic and republican form of government.

It is important to note, as Creighton says, that:

Macdonald approached these matters with little prejudice against the United States and with a good deal of respect for the American character and American political experience.

However, as he said himself in 1861:

It is the policy of the government to try to secure the union of the lower provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and perhaps Newfoundland, but when unhappily we see the fratricidal strife which rages across the line, we must take advantage of the faults and defects in their constitution. We must take care that we will not, like them, have a weak central government. We must have local governments for local purposes only, and not run the risk in this country, which we see on the other side of the frontier, of one part of the country destroying the other part.

So what we see is that events in the United States, the American civil war, created an environment in which it became necessary to create the Dominion of Canada to protect ourselves and our unique way of life in this country. This was the great vision of Macdonald, which came of course in a time of war, not completely unlike our own.

Macdonald saw Canada, as I think all of us do these days, as an alternative model of life in North America, an alternative vision, not a hostile one but one which draws its inspiration not only from the south but from the east and the west and indeed the north.

Macdonald, in his last election address, said the following in 1891, long after he had founded Canada:

But if it should happen that we should be absorbed in the United States, the name of Canada would literally be forgotten; we should have the State of Ontario, the State of Quebec, the State of Nova Scotia and the State of New Brunswick. Every one of the provinces would be a state, but where is the grand, the glorious name of Canada? All I can say is that not with me, or not by the action of my friends, or not by the action of the people of Canada, will such a disaster come upon us.

Macdonald reminds us of the importance of attending to our sovereignty, of not taking Canada for granted, of not assuming that it will go on without change, without dedication, without transition and without the great strategic acts of which he spoke.

It was the creation of the Dominion of Canada that set the context for what were then some of Macdonald's greatest national projects. Two, of course, are outstanding. The national policy of the 1870s attempted a radical reorientation of the economic map by stressing the east-west connections in our country to try to offset the north-south pull. How current that sounds in the context of our trading relationship with the United States. How important to remember the offsets, the reorientation of the direction.

In the 1880s it was Macdonald and his government that ultimately brought about the creation of the trans-Canada railway, CPR, during our own small war, during the Metis rebellion. That was a great national project. It took the resources of an entire small, young country to build this mighty connecting link, the CPR.

Of course the story does not end there; it continued with Laurier. That is why it is so appropriate to honour both men when we do this: because it is a two part invention, if you like, Canada. Laurier brought with him another dimension, another aspect.

Laurier is the one who put more emphasis on the development of Canada in the west. His vision was the settlement of the prairies and the creation of two new provinces during the 20th century.

Laurier also had a new way of doing, looking at, and talking about things, a new model for Canada to succeed. Before him, Canada's image was mainly British. Laurier revealed a new face of Canada, and Canada is now a diverse country.

Bill S-14, this bill to honour these two great creators' birthdays, these two great initiators of Canadian sovereignty, these two men who should continue to inspire us in our time in the 21st century, reminds us of why we honour great men. It is not simply out of some kind of archaism. It is not some sort of historical nice thing to do. It is because they remind us of who we are as a people and of what our country is and, more important, of what our country can be. Think of the changes they themselves brought about to create the country we now call Canada. Let us find in their work the inspiration to be creators in our time of great strategic acts, of great national projects, to meet the challenges of our time to justify the existence of an independent and sovereign Canada.

As Laurier said about Macdonald after his death in 1891, and as we might well say of Laurier:

His loss overwhelms us. [Macdonald's place in history] was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the politics of this country--the fate of this country--will continue without him.

Writes Laurier LaPierre “This was not the time for political partisanship; rather, it was the time to sink all differences” and, as he quotes Laurier, it was a time to:

--remember only the great services he has performed for his country--to remember that his actions displayed unbounded fertility of resources, a high level of intellectual conception, and, above all, a far-reaching vision beyond the events of the day, and still higher, permeating the whole, a long road of patriotism, a devotion to Canada's welfare, Canada's advancement, and Canada's glory.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak to the bill. It is an important bill because it speaks to the history. I agree with my colleague that it also speaks to who we are.

I have done some research on the bill as it has come to the House many times. I have taken a look at the speeches of some of my colleagues, past and present, and recognize that there have been some very eloquent speeches. I believe the vast majority of members of the House across party lines are in favour of the bill because they have a larger vision of Canada, what it is, what it could be and what it should be.

I can understand the chagrin of the members of the Bloc Quebecois and I can understand its smaller vision of Canada because they do not see Canada as I and many of my colleagues in the House do.

There is a battle in Canada, a battle that ebbs and flows, for the larger vision of Canada and truly the Canadian Alliance and I represent that larger vision. There is also a battle about remembering our predecessors in the political realm because we become so partisan in debate.

As we look at honouring these two founding gentlemen of our country, it is understandable that we look at them through the prism of 100 years of history and what it has shown us about their vision. In the case of Macdonald it certainly is a 100 years and not quite in the case of Laurier.

It is important too that we not set today's standard of enlightenment against some of their specific pronouncements. I know some people who have a larger vision of Canada have been somewhat critical of some specific pronouncements, particularly those of Sir John A. because to put it mildly, he was very pithy.

I have some of his quotes. For example, as we know he enjoyed some liquor a lot of times. This is one of his cuter quotes. He said:

Would you move away please your breath smells terrible...it smells like water.

He also had some rather pithy ways of looking at situations. For example, he said:

A compliment is a statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is a statement of an agreeable untruth.

He also was very straightforward in his reaction with respect to the English and the French, similar to what we are faced with today. He said:

Let us be English or let us be French, but above all let us be Canadians.

Sir John A. was my guy kind of guy.

Senator A.R. Dickey of Amherst, New Brunswick, was in conversation with Macdonald. Dickey said:

No, I am still a Conservative and I shall support you whenever I think you are right.

Sir John A. said:

That is no satisfaction. Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is a man that will support me when I'm wrong.

He had a very simple way with words. For example, here is another quote from 1872. He said:

Confederation is only yet the gristle, and it will require five years more before it hardens into bone.

Perhaps he was thinking forward to some of the commentators on the political situation in Canada today, and I say this with a little chagrin because it is not purely complimentary to the opposition, but in 1869 he said:

Given a Government with a big surplus, and a big majority and a weak Opposition, you could debauch a committee of archangels.

He certainly had a way with words but his way with words was interesting in that it was so concise, so pithy and so earthy.

One of our former prime ministers, Mr. Borden, said of Sir Wilfrid Laurier the following:

Looking dimly it may be through the mists I can even now discern the future greatness which I am sure will place this Canada of ours not only in the fore-front of the nations of the Empire, but in the fore-front of the nations of the world. This is our dearest wish, the wish cherished with equal fondness by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and myself with regard to the country which we are proud to assist in developing, and to whose future I am sure every loyal Canadian looks forward as hopefully and as devoutly as we do ourselves.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1910 said:

The more I advance in life--and I am no longer a young man--the more I thank Providence that my birth took place in this fair land of Canada. Canada has been modest in its history, although its history has been heroic in many ways. But its history, in my estimation, is only commencing. It is commencing in this century. The nineteenth century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the twentieth century. I cannot hope that I shall see much of the development which the future has in store for my country, but whenever my eyes shall close to the light it is my wish--nay, it is my hope--that they close upon a Canada united in all its elements, united in every particular, every element cherishing the tradition of its past, and all uniting in cherishing still more hope for the future.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier by contrast to Sir John A. was the more flamboyant and the more eloquent, yet both of them clearly had a total, absolute commitment to our great nation.

Before I use this last quote, I want to make a particular point about the larger vision that both men had. We have a tendency, and perhaps I have a tendency, of looking at the smaller vision. For example, who does have a vision of today? When we talk about a vision, we have to ensure that our vision for the politics of today is not that we set the bar so low that it is a foot under the ground.

We have debates about our finances. We have debates about criminal justice reform. We have debates about health. I suggest with respect that those are debates of a slightly smaller vision. The larger vision is how we govern ourselves, whether we will become involved in a true reform of this institution and whether we will become involved in a Senate reform.

We can do that if we individually and collectively work together, look at our history and realize what the larger vision was of the great people in our history. We must be very careful not to get away from that larger vision.

I quote from a speech delivered by Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald in reply to allegations concerning the Pacific railway charter. This was a point of tremendous pressure for Sir John A. This was one of the finest speeches he made and I would like to put it on record. He said:

But sir, I commit myself, the government commits itself, to the hands of this house; and far beyond the house, it commits itself to the country at large. We have fought the battle of confederation. We have fought the battle of union. We have had party strife setting province against province; and more than all, we have had in the greatest province, the preponderating province of the Dominion, every prejudice and sectional feeling that could be arrayed against us. I have been the victim of that conduct to a great extent; but I have fought the battle of confederation, the battle of union, the battle of the Dominion of Canada. I throw myself upon this house; I throw myself upon this country; I throw myself upon posterity; and I believe that I know, that, notwithstanding the many failings in my life, I shall have the voice of this country, and this house, rallying around me. And, sir, if I am mistaken in that, I shall confidently appeal to a higher court--to the court of my own conscience, and to the court of posterity. I leave it with this house with every confidence. I am equal to either fortune. I can see past the decision of this House, either for or against me; but whether it be for or against me, I know--and this is no vain boast for me to say so, for even my enemies will admit that I am no boaster--that there does not exist in Canada a man who has given more of his time, more of his heart, more of his wealth or more of his intellect and power, such as they may be, for the good of this Dominion of Canada.

It is fitting that the House, these members, vote in favour of honouring these two gentlemen.