moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure to take part in the debate on Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act by providing for the appointment of a poet laureate in Canadian parliament.
First, I would like to commend the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine for introducing this bill in the House. I would also like to congratulate Senator Grafstein for taking this initiative in the other House.
The position of poet laureate has been a tradition in several countries for many years. In England, the position of poet was created back in 1616 and this tradition has been retained by several Commonwealth countries.
Since the 1930s, the United States have had their poet laureate. In Canada, Saskatchewan appointed its first poet laureate in the Fall of 2000.
The holder of the position of poet laureate writes poetry that is read in parliament on occasions of state. The poet will sponsor poetry readings and will also be responsible for giving advice to the parliamentary librarian regarding the library's collection and acquisitions. This poet laureate would be appointed for a period of two years.
Some people will think: why do we need a poet laureate in parliament? Dowe not have enough positions already?
Everything is there, in fact. We all know that poetry serves to beautify, but it can also serve as grounds for reflection. Poetry inspires, poetry raises awareness. It transcends the interplay of question and answer. It is a sort of conscience, which reminds us not only of esthetic values, but of philosophical values as well.
Curiously enough, Plato excluded poets from his ideal Republic. Did he think they might question the entire basis of society? It is true that words are not innocent, that they bear meanings. There is no better place than this House to convince us of that.
Yes, I agree that poetry can exorcise some certainties, but it is also a source of inspiration. As the great poet Shelley said, “Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration, the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present”.
In France, over the centuries, court poets have celebrated the armed exploits of the nobility, from Charlemagne to Napoleon.
During the occupation of France in World War II, the entire country was whispering a poem by Paul Éluard. This poem on freedom, Liberté , was a perfect mirror of the soul and state of mind of his fellow citizens.
Éluard is not the only poet to have been inspired by patriotism. There have, of course, been many others.
I will read, if I may, two excerpts from Mon pays by Canadian poet and songwriter, Janine Simard.
More could be said For our country is great And yet it has not; A limitless land And picturesque too But young and unsure Like a child too polite Who is told what to do But does not get it right
Much has been said That my country is cold That my country is great How attractive it is But I say, as none properly have That it is the finest of all!
The poet is a free spirit. He is able to feel the suffering of others, for often he has experienced it himself. This is why he is able to capture it on paper or in song.
If we politicians have the power to change things, so do poets, for sometimes the movers and shakers of this world hear their cry.
Poetry unites us. It allows us to pause and makes us human, for it is the voice of the people. A parliamentary poet laureate would only increase our feeling of belonging to a free society.
Because of poetry's universal appeal, UNESCO declared March 21, 2001 World Poetry Day. This year marked the first official celebration of the day in Canada.
I invite members on both sides of the House to launch this tradition of parliamentary poet laureate by voting in favour of this bill.