Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for her remarks.
I jotted down a quote earlier today, one that has affected me for a long period of time:
New Democrats have long believed that so long as any among us are unfree, all of us are unfree. So long as any among us are persecuted, so we all are persecuted.
Earlier, my friend from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale was talking about McMaster University. In Hamilton, people will know that following 9/11 there was a firebombing of the Hindu samaj. The racists thought it was a mosque. The member also mentioned Israeli Apartheid Week. As well, there was an event where one of the professors wore an niqab, which caused a problem.
I think it is really important to look at the Shoa, or just before the Shoa, and at what happened to Jews in Germany. They lost their voice. They lost their opportunity to be themselves and to present their case on whatever kind of an issue that was happening.
Therefore, when we have Israeli Apartheid Week, I agree that we have to engage and have to try to change the direction. Be it on the issue of a niqab, or whatever anti-racism work that we can do, we have to engage.
It does not work and has not worked to go from the top down, saying that we have an edict and that this is how we must act. We have to protect people's freedom of voice so they can deliver the message needed to change history.
Anti-Semitism has the longest history, and many speakers tonight have said this. For century upon century, the Jewish people have been the victims of anti-Semitism. We have to protect the voice of our communities to fight that.
Mr. Chairman, I will be splitting my time with the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale.
As the Minister of State for Multiculturalism I am honoured to speak this evening on this very important and timely debate. I commend the Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism and the member for Mount Royal for proposing this debate.
Anti-Semitic incidences and Holocaust denial are on the rise around the world. Whether it is the streets of Paris, the highest political offices in Tehran, or the dark corners of the Internet, we are deeply concerned about the alarming increase in anti-Semitism worldwide, because we know that history has shown that the enemies of freedom and democratic rights often target the Jews first.
We are also seeing anti-Semitism under the guise of human rights in an attempt to de-legitimize Israel.
As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel, the Jewish homeland. This new anti-Semitism targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation. That is why I am proud that, for our government, Israel has an absolute and non-negotiable right to exist as a Jewish state.
As the Prime Minister said in his historic address to the Knesset:
In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our Government takes as articles of faith and principles to drive our own national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.
As freedom-loving people, we have an obligation to remember the poisonous effects of anti-Semitism, the disregard for human rights and human dignity, which led to the horrors of the Holocaust. We have an obligation to learn lessons from the Holocaust and apply them to the present. We also have an obligation to recognize that the same threats exist today.
It is for this reason that our government has invested in a number of educational and remembrance projects in recent years, including the national Holocaust monument right here in Ottawa. It was an honour for me to help create this monument by bringing forward the act in this House, which was supported by all parties. The national Holocaust monument will serve as a powerful reminder about what can happen when we fail to take a stand against social injustice, xenophobia, and discrimination.
Just last month I was greatly privileged to join four Canadian Holocaust survivors, Mordechai Ronen, Miriam Ziegler Friedman, Howard Chandler, and Martin Baranek, as they bravely returned to Auschwitz as some of the 100 survivors from around the world who attended the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.
As I stood with them at the gate of Auschwitz, I was profoundly moved. The endless courage, the incredible spirit they demonstrated to go back to that place of such evil, their own hell on earth, to remember and to ensure that future generations will never forget.
I would like to share the story of one of the Canadian Holocaust survivors, Mr. Mordechai Ronen, who returned to Auschwitz with his son Moshe Ronen and granddaughter Sari for the commemoration.
Mordechai grew up in a Jewish orthodox home in a part of Hungary that now belongs to Romania. He was only 11 years old when he was seized by the Nazis at the end of 1943 along with his parents and four siblings. The family was transported to the Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz, where he, his father, and his brother were separated from his mother and sisters, never to see them again.
It was many years before Mordechai shared the horrific and traumatizing experience of the Holocaust with his family. The loss, as well as the constant terror and suffering that he endured while in the camp, are beyond comprehension to most people, but in spite of this, upon his return to the camp, he demonstrated the remarkable spirit of survivors when he stated, “I am not a victim; I am a victor. I have survived and returned to tell the world these awful things happened, and we must never allow them to happen again”.
Order, please. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale.
Mr. Speaker, now, I see my colleague from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale is advising me that it is a big love-in whenever the Conservatives meet, so I stand corrected. The Conservatives never fight. They always get along, and everything is fine. I can accept that political defiance and political gravity.
However, it is a real problem. It is a problem of a leader who cannot count 100% on the House leader and whip. The fact that they can be elected means that those who may have just finished a leadership race from other camps could have these big positions and may decide that the election is not over, so we can guess what happens. It is very problematic.
On the other hand, I would like to take the last couple of minutes to support the idea of electing caucus chairs. I have always believed in it very strongly. In my own experience, I was an elected caucus chair when we were in government at Queen's Park. If we think that leaders are omnipotent when they are in opposition, we should see what they are like when they are in government. To me, the one and only mandate that does not come from an appointment by the leader is an elected caucus chair. When we are at caucus meetings, the leader still has all of the power that a leader has, but the caucus chair owes that position and that position only, with a few minor exceptions, in the caucus by virtue of the independent caucus mandate.
That is an important counterbalance to the overwhelming power of the leader, rightly, in our system. It provides a good counterbalance. The rest of it I find somewhat problematic.
If I can get this in at the end, a lot of people want us all to be more independent in the same way that they see in the United States, where the members of Congress can go here and there. The problem is that under our system, we run on a platform. The leader has every right to be able to say to the people who elected them to form a government, regardless of the party, that this is their policy and this is what they are going to enact and that the leader expects everybody to uphold that.
If people do not have to follow party discipline, which can go too far, and say that party discipline is not on at all, how can a leader go about enforcing a platform when people cast some of their votes for us individually—we like to think it is all of them, but that is not true—while others vote for a platform? The leader needs the ability to enhance that platform.
It is my understanding that the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, having spoken moments ago, does not see the need for a right of reply, so we will go directly to the question.
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, October 20, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.
I see the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale rising.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale will now have his five minutes of reply.
Mr. Speaker, the extraordinary member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale is such a hard-working member.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is at the Pacific Alliance meetings in Mexico where he will be announcing a new $25 million Canadian trade and development facility.
This facility is to unleash the potential of the private sector in the Americas, while at the same time helping them understand better the opportunities that exist in Canada. That is good for jobs and good for economic growth here in Canada.
We know that the NDP are opposed to every single trade deal. The Liberals can never decide which ones they want to oppose; they can never close them. We will continue to open new markets for Canadian small, medium and large business producers and job creators, because it is good for the economy and it is good for Canada.
The hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale will now have his five minutes of reply.
Mr. Speaker, I too congratulate the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale on bringing forward this legislation and getting it to this stage. I do expect it to pass in the House. The Liberal Party will be supporting the bill at this stage.
I want to draw on a couple of points that were mentioned by the NDP member who just spoke. He indicated there were amendments by opposition members—and very good amendments, I believe—that did not get the consideration that they should have at committee.
I agree with the member that video conferencing for victims was a sensible request. It would reduce cost and reduce stress on victims from having to appear in the same room with an offender. Turning down that amendment was a mistake.
The other point the member raised, which I will also not elaborate on, is that at the end of the day, public safety is key. If offenders, because of the longer time between hearings, find themselves unable to enter a rehabilitation program, that is a dilemma in terms of public safety. It could increase the risk of those offenders reoffending when they get back into society.
Given that the key element of the legislation, namely that the discretion of the parole board to conduct its tasks would not be infringed, it is our intention to support the bill.
The intent by the mover to ensure that victims of crime are considered remains. This was the cornerstone of previous Liberal initiatives and came into strong focus with the 2003 Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime that was negotiated between federal and provincial governments at that time.
The problem with this legislation, as with many private members' bills coming forward from government members relating to public safety, is the extent to which the government, through Department of Justice lawyers, has had to intervene to amend the legislation to bring it into line both legally and constitutionally.
The trouble begins in part with the statements at the beginning, when the legislation is brought into the House. I see it this way. This legislation was brought in and went to committee. Witnesses came before committee based on the original bill. They were supportive of the original bill because it proposed to do a, b, c, and d in terms of victims rights. After the hearings were over and the witnesses left town—and I have said this with previous bills—legal counsel with either the Department of Justice or Public Safety Canada came in and made a number of government amendments that, in my view, substantially changed the legislation. As a result, the bill has ended up not being the same as it was when the mover of the bill talked about it at the beginning.
Even at report stage, the government is still trying to clean up the bill in an effort to bring it more in line with what is legally acceptable. By my count, the government introduced and passed nine amendments to what was originally a seven-clause bill. This ensured that the legislation would be in conformance with the legal requirements of any legislation.
It should be noted, for example, that the legislation now before the House does reinforce the idea that the requirements for Correctional Service of Canada, or in this case the Parole Board, to disclose certain information to victims related to offenders are not requirements without limitations. The power of the Parole Board to use its discretion has remained with the provisions of the act and within Bill C-479.
One of the concerns that has arisen is the contradictory nature of private members' legislation that is related to the government's tough on crime agenda and that comes from government members. I have raised this issue in the House and at committee. It relates to government members having a somewhat confused agenda. I cannot understand it. My colleague as well previously mentioned that there needs to be more coordination with the government itself in terms of legislation coming forward.
Why does the Minister of Justice not coordinate all these interests and private members' bills in a substantive way? That way, they would perhaps not be in conflict with one another, and the government would also be less likely to see legislation turned back by a superior court.
The principle behind Bill C-479 was to reduce the number of Parole Board hearings to which victims would be subjected. During the course of testimony before the public safety committee, it was emphasized that this legislation was necessary to minimize the re-victimization of victims.
The House needs to understand, and rightly so, that we heard some pretty sad stories from victims before the committee. When they have to prepare victim impact statements, go to a Parole Board hearing—sometimes practically without any notice—and then have to do it again in two years, it is the re-victimization of victims.
However, as members will find out later in my remarks, it appeared that the intent of the bill was to change that period to five years. That did not really happen at all. There is the possibility it could go to five years, but it could also remain at two. It is at the discretion of the Parole Board.
My concern, as I stated earlier in my remarks, is that victims who came before the committee actually believed that it would be five years. It is not so now. It could be two or it could be five or it could be four. It is at the discretion of the Appeal Board. The intent and the stated fact of what the bill would do did not really happen.
However, we then have the contradiction that I also want to mention. The principle of Bill C-483 was to increase the number of Parole Board hearings related to escorted temporary absences, thus creating further hearings to which victims would be subjected.
On the one hand we have a bill that is trying to reduce the number of Parole Board hearings, and on the other hand we have another bill in contradiction to that, trying to stretch them out.
The question victims and victims' organizations should ask themselves is straightforward: since government members speak to each other, why do they not coordinate this in a substantive way so that we have an overall strategy that works in harmony rather than in conflict?
Let me close by saying that my concern with this process is that when the bill is presented, it states one thing, but then, after the witnesses leave town, justice lawyers come in and amend it. We then have a substantively different bill, one that does not do what backbench Conservatives claimed in the first instance it would do. We have seen this on several bills now.
However, there are some good points in the bill. It is a step forward, and at the end of the day we will support it. However, I want to tell victims that it is not all they were told it would be in the beginning.
Mr. Speaker, as the member for Hamilton Centre said earlier, it is not that often that all of the members from Hamilton are in agreement because we have a good number of NDP members, but we have other parties there. In this case, I am very pleased to stand in support of the motion of the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale.
For the record, New Democrats recognize that January 21 should be a day to mark the life of Lincoln Alexander. He was a man whose appeal crossed party lines. His life was a great example of service, perseverance, humility, and number one, humanity.
In fact, the member for Hamilton Mountain put forward a similar motion last December because our thoughts are very similar on the respect that we had for Lincoln Alexander.
He was born in 1922, and as members have heard, he passed away in his 90th year. I would say of Linc that he lived a life very worthy of the respect that we see him receiving here today. He was first elected in 1968. Those of us who lived at that time should give thought to the fact that in 1968, the civil rights movement in the United States was fighting just to have black children go to university. At that time, Linc was elected Canada's first black MP. It says so much about Linc and it says a lot about our country at the time too.
He held respect. He was re-elected in 1972, 1979 and 1980 and served in the House of Commons until 1985. He went on under the Clark government to be the first black labour minister.
He received the Companion of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. After leaving office, he was a five-term chancellor of the University of Guelph. Most importantly is the book he wrote, the Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy. I do not think I have heard it referenced, but that is what his mother used to say to him every day to instill in him the need for education.
I had the good fortune to have conversations with Linc from time to time and one of the things both of us shared the view on was that with knowledge comes responsibility. I would suggest that the knowledge he gained over the years he put to good use. He lived up to what he saw his responsibilities were.
He was born in Toronto and he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War for three years. In Hamilton, I have to say, we quickly forgave Linc for having been born in Toronto for he moved to Hamilton to court his future wife, Yvonne. He received a Bachelor of Arts at McMaster University back in 1949.
I would like to share a couple of stories because I have a few minutes left. The member for Hamilton Centre will relate to this one. Linc did not have a driver's licence, but in his later years he had a red scooter. He was notorious for going through our malls at speeds at which he might have been pulled over otherwise. But this wonderful man was received every place he went, most importantly as a friend. No matter what strata one was living in, from the top person in Hamilton to the average worker in the streets, they all loved Linc.
Shortly after 9/11, in Hamilton there was a firebombing of a Hindu Samaj. In all of his life, Linc had stood up against racism. Mayor Wade in Hamilton started a group called the Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative. That is where I first came to know Linc, who was named the honorary chairman of that group. From what we hear today about Lincoln Alexander, he may be honorary, but he was there working side-by-side with us. It was very important to have that kind of guidance.
Again, as the member for Hamilton Centre indicated, when Linc came into the room he was a physically imposing man of about 6'2”. He also was a dynamic individual; there was a natural gravitation to him.
We had people in that room who represented the diverse community of Hamilton and business leaders as well. A man of his integrity drew people together. There were Muslims and Jewish people in the room. That organization actually wound up putting out press releases on the Middle East that were signed off by our Muslim and Jewish communities in Hamilton. That is the kind of leadership this man was capable of providing.
Another side to Linc was his personal humour. One of the things that he did to me and with me is this. When I was first elected in 2006, there was the dinner downtown at a restored CN station that had been converted by LIUNA into one of the best places to come for a meal and a social gathering. I was dressed in a brand new suit. Going in through the door, I heard a booming voice behind me say, “Wayne, get me a chair”. I grabbed Linc a chair. He said, “Put it here beside the door”. I put it there. He sat down in the chair and introduced me to every single individual coming through that door.
Linc was Progressive-Conservative and I was not. However, that did not matter to Linc. That is what endeared him to everybody in our community. He was a human being, first and foremost, who loved everybody. He had kind of a gruff sound to him. He would come through that door and we knew he was there and if he was unhappy, we knew it too. However, he was always gracious, always respectful, and always ensured everybody in that room had a say in what was happening.
He was raised a black boy, in the forties, when times were so different than they are today in this country. We have not gotten over racism totally, but back in the forties, it was far more a part of Canadian life than we would like to say. He rose above that. He stood head and shoulders above it. If we look at his life history, every single thing he did, he did well. He lived up to the request of his mother and his father to put his everything into every aspect of his life.
If I am standing here with pride, I know it is shared by the other members from Hamilton. I know it is shared by this House. This was a life well lived, a life that was full of service to not only his community and his country, but to the world community. At that time, seeing the symbol of a black man, in 1968, rising in the House of Commons and shortly thereafter becoming the minister of labour in this place, in so many corners of the world they could turn to Canada and say, “This is how it should be”. Lincoln Alexander was the person who was able to turn to us and say, “Yes, we're working together”. It was never Lincoln Alexander above us; it was always Lincoln Alexander with us.
I speak for the guys and gals from Hamilton. That is how he would have said it because Linc was part of our community. As we close our portion of the debate, he was what was good in Hamilton and, in many ways, when we look at this place and the service he gave here, he represented what was good with the dignity and deportment he brought here.
As my time is coming to an end, I am standing here with the feeling I want to talk about this much more. However, I am sure after the House adjourns today, we will have a chance to gather and chat about the life of our friend, Lincoln Alexander.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak after the members for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Hamilton Centre and Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale. They have a done a fairly good job of addressing all the points that should be made about Mr. Alexander, the first being his history in terms of his input into this process of politics, the second his input into being a Canadian citizen and being proud of, and living that type of life, and, third, his commitment to public service.
I will not try to reiterate each and every one of the points that were made, but it should be noted that the government is in support of Bill S-213. It is my hope, as the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville mentioned, that the bill is passed unanimously, and I hope that is the case.
I would also note the comments by the member for Hamilton Centre about the opportunities we have every once in a while to work together and speak in unanimity on a specific topic.
Sometimes when folks back home ask me about the conflict or the apparent disagreements that take place in the House of Commons from a government and opposition perspective, I hearken back to the time of minority governments, from 2006 to 2008 and then 2008 to 2011, when, despite all of our differences, time and time again not only was there a requirement for at least one other party to support government legislation, but there was a need for us to work together for the betterment of our country.
I reflect on that a bit when I think about Mr. Alexander and his number of firsts, such as being the 24th lieutenant governor of Ontario from 1985 to 1991, the first black person to hold that position. He was the first person in his family to attend university, where he obtained a law degree. He was the first black member of Parliament and, under prime minister Joe Clark, Mr. Alexander became the first black cabinet minister. He also served an unprecedented five terms as chancellor of the University of Guelph, a first as well. As was mentioned, whenever it came to Lincoln Alexander, being first in a number of these categories certainly befits who he was.
I had a chance to look at his history. This was a man who achieved so many honorary degrees from universities: the University of Toronto in 1986, McMaster University in 1987, the University of Western Ontario in 1988. He skipped a year and did not receive one in 1989, but received one in 1990 from York University, in 1991 from the Royal Military College in Kingston, and in 1992 from Queen's University. Those are not honorary degrees that are bestowed upon just anyone. The fact that one would achieve those from so many different top-notch and respected universities in our country is quite something.
He was also an advocate when it came to education, and equality was one of the most highly regarded beliefs that he had. All members have spoken about his book, which is entitled Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy, and he used that inspiration to pursue higher learning and strove to influence youth to do exactly the same.
When he was lieutenant governor, he had three specific goals at the centre of his mandate: addressing youth-related issues in education; fighting racism; and advocating on behalf of seniors and veterans. He set out to meet these goals by delivering inspiring speeches throughout the country and continually challenged educators to not simply give lip service to anti-racism, but to accept that responsibility and lead.
Having served as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Mr. Alexander was an active advocate on veterans' issues. He was serving as chancellor of the University of Guelph when the devastating events of 9/11 took place. Later that year, while marking Remembrance Day at the university, he took the opportunity to salute the armed forces and delivered a message of hope. He said, “Together, we will battle against narrow perspectives, ignorance, and racism”.
It was that objective that he never lost. Whether in grade school, high school, university or in the House of Commons, whether as a lieutenant-governor in the province of Ontario, as a chancellor or as simply a member of the community in Hamilton, he never lost the vigour and fight against ignorance and racism. He noted the toll of suffering and sacrifice that veterans had endured, and urged the crowd not to forget. He also said, “Their blood and tears were the awful price for the peace, comfort, and democracy we enjoy...We should never forget”.
Yesterday in the Niagara and St. Catharines community we had one event celebrating Declaration Day, commemorating those who went before us. I do not think Lincoln Alexander actually needed June 6, June 7 or November 11 to remember those who sacrificed themselves for our country and our democracy. He used every day of the year to do that.
It was early in his law career, during a visit to Africa, when he was confronted by the boundless issues of racism, colonialism, political turmoil and poverty, that he discovered his political calling. The trip, he said, instilled in him a sense of pride and shaped his desire to promote leadership within the black community. He credited that trip to inspiring him to become the first black member of Parliament in Canada and eventually the first black cabinet minister of our country.
These achievements served as an example for both the black community and for Canada. Linc was never shy to describe his life as a cabinet minister, and never determined that it was not for him to tell people about that experience. It was that experience that he believed should be transferred to all others in our country, whether they be minority or they be black, that the opportunity to serve in the House of Commons was not something that was for just a few; it was for those who were prepared to serve.
Mr. Alexander was a symbol for democracy and he spoke for anyone who suffered from prejudice or injustice. He believed in unity and he focused on the similarities that bound and drew our country together. He once stated, “One is not elected...to be a spokesperson to any particular segment of the constituency”. It showed that his sense of justice surpassed creed, colour and any type of social standing.
Canada prides itself on its diversity. Our diversity strengthens our nation by building an inclusive society that values differences and fosters a sense of belonging. We do not have to look too far over the last number of years to see, each and every year, an average 250,000 new Canadians making that statement and understanding that the principle of belonging is a value that is instituted within them because of the institutions of our great country. Lincoln Alexander was the embodiment of those Canadian values. He stood for justice and equality and most of all he believed in service to others.
Declaring Lincoln Alexander day in Canada would formally recognize, as Canadians, a lifelong commitment to public service and multicultural understanding. It would also serve to underline Lincoln Alexander's leadership in promoting human rights, justice and the importance of education. However, at the end of the day, when we look at the naming of Lincoln Alexander day, it is not something just to commemorate and honour him. What he would have said was to use that day to justify why we needed to keep fighting in our country, whether at the political level, the personal level or within our own communities, the aspects and values of what we are as Canadians in terms of multiculturalism, acceptance and understanding that people who come here, regardless of where the country of origin was or what position they held or what their last name happened to be, that there is an opportunity for them here to become not only permanent residents or Canadian citizens, but to add value to what it is to be Canadian.
I have a feeling the bill will pass unanimously. Every time we celebrate Lincoln Alexander day it is not just to remember Linc, but also to remember who we are as a country, the values we hold as individuals, the values we bring forward, and show the rest of the world what it really is to be Canadian, what it is to lead and to understand what that leadership is.
Every once in awhile, we can look back on the work that we do as parliamentarians and say that we did something right and that we did something good. Today is a step forward in honouring Lincoln Alexander and what he stood for. I certainly look forward to seeing all of us stand in unanimity when the bill is passed.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join the debate. I particularly enjoy the fact that it is one of the few times we get to reach across the floor and be in agreement. For all the headlines of fighting and the various things we get into around here, there are times when we are able to rise above that and do justice to this profession and the people who elected us.
I want to thank my colleague, the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale for leading off the debate and sponsoring the bill in the House. He has done great service and justice to all that Lincoln Alexander has meant to Canada and to Hamilton, so I certainly will not repeat any of the milestones, except to maybe add a few pieces to the story.
First, I love the fact that when I checked the Hamilton Spectator website this morning, in the local section there was a headline that I am sure my colleagues saw. Certainly the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, and our colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain are very supportive of the bill. I am sure it warmed their hearts, as it did mine, to see one of the headlines, on this day that we begin debating the bill, that says “The Linc” is to be extended. The “Linc” speaks to a secondary highway in Hamilton that links the west mountain and the east mountain. That is as far as I am going to go on what all of that means.
The great irony that everyone loves is that it is a perfect connection. Of course, “Linc” is his name. When I say Linc, it is not disrespectful. The first thing he would do after someone said “Hello Mr. Alexander” was to say, “No, call me Linc”. Everyone knows that, so my references from here on in will likely be to Linc. I am referring to my fellow Hamiltonian in the most respectful way that I can, and showing the camaraderie and relationship that Linc had with the city.
The great irony of having the link named “The Linc” is that Linc never had a driver's licence in his whole life and he is one of the few people who has a highway named after him. That is one more accomplishment that he did not necessarily set out to do, but managed to do anyway. There, in the Hamilton Spectator today, the spirit of Linc lives on.
I am hoping that all members will be supportive of this. As a result of the bill being passed in both of these places, Canada as a nation will forever remember Linc.
Everyone here makes the history books, but most of us are footnotes in the great historical span of Canada. It really is something to have personally known an individual who looms so large in a nation and, with a little hometown pride, it feels good when they are from one's hometown city.
This is an important day for us in the House who represent Hamiltonians, and our entire community. When Linc was appointed lieutenant governor, in 1985, that happened to be the same year I was elected to city council. After we had the big celebration, what I remember most is that I was finding it hard to believe that a position so important was going to be represented by a Hamiltonian. However, when we thought about it being Linc, it was not such a surprise.
In 1990, when I was lucky enough to be elected to Queen's Park, again, there was that burst of pride. We were sitting in the House when the throne speech was to be read, and it was Linc who came through the door. He just smiled and winked to those of us from Hamilton as he walked down.
He pulled off the impossible. He had this way about him that was so real.
My colleague who just spoke is absolutely right. If we walked up to him, there was this sense of familiarity. He would look at us as if he thought he had a new friend. There was just that sense from him. It was not only that, but he had the royal jelly. When he walked into a room, there was that presence, and that was before he became lieutenant governor.
I remember one time when we were at Hamilton Place and it was a police appreciation night. This was not long after he had retired, so he was still in robust health. I remember him walking out. He had a number of police uniforms. He was an honorary police chief of a number of police services. It must have been the Hamilton one he was wearing that day. This big, strong, strapping officer in this uniform came walking out on the stage. He walked up to the microphone. I can still remember that. One could hear a pin drop. Linc said, “Do I look good in this uniform, or what?” It was such a solemn occasion, yet there was a “Lincism” there. That is the kind of guy that he was.
If I can, there are a couple of claims to fame for my riding, our riding, because we fight over how much of our ridings we get to claim from Linc.
Ellen Fairclough, also a predecessor of ours, was the first woman in cabinet, in 1957. She was made a secretary of state. The following year she became a full minister. This riding has great history. The hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale and I are pleased to provide the historical footnotes that made Linc so important in our time.
However, I will go for a little more claim of him than my colleague, simply because he lived on Proctor Boulevard, which is in the heart of my riding. Not only that, I made it into his book. This is nothing but pure bragging. I make no bones about it. If it is possible to name-drop in this place, I am doing it.
Linc wrote in his book:
There is no bigger supporter of our men and women in blue than me. I am an honorary chief of several police services, and the honorary commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, whose headquarters in Orillia is named after me. It was in 1994 that [the member for Hamilton Centre], who was Ontario's solicitor general at the time, visited Hamilton council to announce that the new four-storey OPP headquarters in Orillia would be named after me. OPP Commissioner Thomas O'Grady also spoke at the announcement event, and they presented me with a framed artist's drawing of the headquarters.
There is a great little side story that goes with that. We were in the mayor's office. Next to the mayor's office was his assistant's office, which also acted as a green room. There was a large coffee table there. I do not think it was real marble, but it was a nice coffee table. With regard to the picture that Linc was talking about having been presented to him, the OPP Commissioner, Linc, the mayor, and I, all put our feet on this thing and held the picture. It was a nice photo op. The only problem was the entire table collapsed and broke into about six pieces. I said to the current sitting OPP commissioner that Tom O'Grady promised that table would be replaced. To the best of my knowledge, that has not yet been replaced in Hamilton City Hall. There is a debt that the Ontario office of the Solicitor General owes to Hamilton City Council.
I have one minute left, and I want to wrap up. I hope that I have done justice to Linc. I tried to show some humour in the sense of the man, the person we got to know individually, but also recognition of the respect that we have and we need to show. What is important is the statement of passing this bill from our generation now to future generations. Linc stood for the values of Canada. Therefore, when we celebrate and honour Linc, we honour Canada; we honour the values that are Canada.
I look forward to the moment when we will all rise unanimously, supporting this important bill to mark the life of this important man.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my fellow Hamiltonian, the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale.
Of course, we know in Hamilton why this honour should be bestowed upon Linc, as we all know him. Perhaps I could give the hon. member an opportunity—given that there are millions of Canadians who are born, raised, and die, but only a limited number of calendar days—to explain why the pride of Hamilton should be registered as a federally recognized day. Perhaps the member could give a short summary of why he believes this is important not just for us Hamiltonians but for all Canadians.
The electoral district of Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario) has a population of 111,844 with 85,039 registered voters and 233 polling divisions.
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