Mr. Speaker, as always, it is with pride that I stand in the House today to speak to my colleagues and the Canadian people, particularly on this day, on this bill.
I would like to thank the member for Hamilton Mountain. A year ago, the member put forward Bill C-563 which, in effect, is this bill. It is good to see that even though it has changed its title, it has come to this place to be heard for the third time. I do believe it will pass.
We all have dreams. We all have individuals in our life who we look to and say “I want to be just like that person”. Following up on the question I asked my colleague, this is an important aspect of why we should support the bill. It is why I and my colleagues support this bill moving forward, making January 21 Lincoln Alexander day in recognition of the fine work he did.
All of my colleagues who have spoken to this bill in the past have spoken to the dedication and passion of Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor, and of the contributions he has made to our country, to Canadians and Ontarians.
I would like to highlight the contribution that he has made in terms of being a focal point, or a beacon to the black community in Canada. As I said, we all have dreams. When I was about seven years old, I saw Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love. In seeing that, it solidified in mind that, yes, I would be an actor but not only that, this is how I would do it. That was the beginning of my road. I had, like so many of us, individuals who helped guide me in that direction.
The importance of this bill is that it allows for the story of Lincoln Alexander to represent the same kind of beacon, the same kind of guidance, the same kind of pride to the community of communities; that is the black community in Canada.
Lincoln Alexander, indeed, overcame the barriers and walls that existed in his time to become the first on many levels. We do look at firsts in our community as being significant. There are times where in areas of the world or in certain activities, it is expected that people of African descent will participate, to excel. There are areas of the world or activities where that is not so open.
Before there were the Williams sisters, Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe in the world of tennis, which was a very closed world. Before there was Tiger Woods, there was Charlie Sifford, who became the first person of African descent to play in the PGA tour.
Like these trailblazers, Lincoln Alexander holds that very proud distinction in the world of Canadian politics. In a world where history has forgotten many of the stories that have been forged in Canadian history and in world history, recognizing the accomplishments of Lincoln Alexander on January 21 each year will give a focus to young people.
As my colleague has pointed out many times, the importance of young people to Mr. Lincoln Alexander goes unsaid. Like so many individuals who care about the future, Lincoln Alexander did what he had to do, not only because it was his time to do it, but to blaze a trail forward for those who came after him, including myself. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and I count myself as one who stands on the shoulders of Lincoln Alexander.
The bill is important because it sends a very clear message to those who have a vision. It sends the message that it can be done and should be done. It sends a message that underlines the continuing march towards inherent inclusion and the further distancing from the hard-fought merits of inclusion. It solidifies the history, place, life, times and works of Lincoln Alexander. Therefore, it cannot be lost in the history of our country.
It becomes a beacon, much like the beacons I have followed, for future generations. It becomes a point for young people sitting at their desk thinking they would like to be a part of change in our country, a part of contributing to our country. Lincoln Alexander is a beacon in how that can be done and the fact that it could be done.
My support, and all of our support, for this bill means that we are participating in the making of dreams; the dreams of those who are just beginning to dream as well as those who are well on the road to achieving their dreams. It allows those dreams to be attained. It allows those dreams to become a reality.
Above all else in his accomplishments, if he were with us today, I think Lincoln Alexander would be quite proud to be a beacon for those young people and their dreams.