moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise again to speak to Bill S-236, an act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.
It has been a privilege to be a part of and to witness the debate and discussions surrounding the bill in both the other place and within the House.
At the legal and constitutional affairs committee in the other place, four amendments were made to the bill. One was a correction in translation and the other three improved the context and clarified the content of the bill. That debate brought renewed interest in the story of our great nation's founding and improved the bill.
Let me once again reiterate the bill's fundamental objectives: to affirm Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation; to complement provincial efforts; and, to build on the designation of Charlottetown as the birthplace of our country in order to honour, celebrate, share, and educate.
In the spirit of building on this designation, it is important to acknowledge once again a point that was raised throughout the examination of the bill, that being the lack of inclusive discussions at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. Those were indeed different times. No indigenous people were involved and no women participated.
Dr. Ed MacDonald of the University of Prince Edward Island made an important point before the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, “Confederation is not Canada, and it is not the story of Canada. It is one of the stories of Canada.”
I would like to fully read into the record, as was done in the other place, the statement issued by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy when consulted by my hon. colleague Senator Diane Griffin:
While the chiefs are generally supportive of the concept of Charlottetown being recognized as the birthplace of Confederation, they note that Prince Edward Island has been the home of the Mi'kmaq people for over 12,000 years, yet they were not invited to the Charlottetown Conference. In creating this legislative recognition, the chiefs believe that moving forward, the Government of Canada must include the indigenous peoples of this land on a nation-to-nation basis in all matters. This would also involve honouring the historic peace and friendship treaties with the Mi'kmaq.
Though we cannot rewrite history we can move forward with the lessons that we have learned over time and recognize and value the importance of an inclusive society, one that respects diversity in all of its forms and the value that it brings. In my view, the Charlottetown Conference was a beginning and in each of the 153 years since that time, we have built on that vision and we will build further on that vision going forward.
The Charlottetown Conference may be viewed as the watershed moment in the story of Confederation, the point at which Confederation turned from idea into prospect. However, the importance of the Quebec Conference in 1864 and the London Conference two years later cannot be understated.
During consideration in the other place, the preamble of Bill S-236 was amended in order to acknowledge those important conferences and to recognize Confederation as a process, a result achieved through the participation of many.
Before I became an MP I served for quite a number of years as president of the National Farmers Union. In that capacity I had the opportunity to travel in many of the farming areas of this country and spend the night in people's homes, to live in the communities, and to see the differences in the regions within Canada from coast to coast to coast. That experience showed me the great potential of this country. Canada may be diverse in terms of our regions and our sectors but in that diversity we find strength. I really do believe the founding fathers built better than they knew and we have tremendous potential for progress in the future.
Let me come back to the theme of inclusiveness and relationship building. It is my hope that Bill S-236 will inspire reflection on how we can build on the story of Confederation, and how together we can develop a narrative moving forward. One possibility is to develop the narrative through tourism. As the member for Malpeque, it is my privilege to represent an area that is so rich in culture, history, and beauty. Each year, my province welcomes many Canadians and international visitors from around the world, as do many other areas of Canada. We have some of Canada's most incredible treasures in Prince Edward Island, and we do not take that responsibility for their stewardship lightly. Islanders recognize as well the value of Province House, the last remaining building of the Confederation conferences and the story of Confederation, to boost tourism and serve as an important economic generator for us.
We also recognize the importance of a common vision to promote growth. In the spirit of Sir John A. Macdonald and the Fathers of Confederation, who travelled to New Brunswick and throughout the Maritimes after the conference in Charlottetown, I am confident that together we will find new and innovative ways to attract and educate Canadian and international visitors alike and build on both the rich history of Canada's Atlantic region and the story of Confederation.
It is important to reflect on that foundational time in our history as we near the end of the year-long celebration of our nation's 150th birthday. We look forward to the next 150 years as a progressive, inclusive, and growing country.
I want to thank those who have contributed in important ways to where we find ourselves today with the bill: Senator Diane Griffin, the sponsor in the other place; the member for Charlottetown; former MP George Proud; many other islanders who worked hard toward gaining the bill; Dr. Ed MacDonald; and all my colleagues in this place and the other place whose invaluable contributions to the bill made it better. The debate itself has allowed us to reflect, to honour, and to educate during this important year for Canada.
It is my hope that the next time I walk over the time-worn steps of Province House and stand in the chamber where the Fathers stood that this moment, which is enshrined in history, will also be enshrined in law.