Mr. Speaker, I do not know if my colleague, who is the critic for the Liberal Party on the Canadian heritage committee stole a little of my thunder or whether I will reiterate some lines he may have used, not only because they are famous and great and written by Shakespeare but also because they speak volumes to the topic that we are addressing tonight.
Friends, parliamentarians, countrymen, I come not just to praise the member for Perth—Wellington but to ask for support for Motion No. 545:
That the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.
My good friend was right: we must decide to support or not support, and that is the question this evening. By putting forth this motion, the member is highlighting the importance of the cultural sector to the Canadian economy in creating jobs. The Stratford Festival is a standout example of an organization that historically had an incredible cultural impact locally, nationally, and internationally.
I would like to speak about the economic impact of this festival, especially for the city of Stratford. In 2010, a Conference Board of Canada study concluded that just under $140 million of spending can be attributed to the Stratford Festival. That $140 million is a significant contribution to the Stratford community, which has a population of just over 30,000 people.
What is more, $76.5 million of revenue goes directly to local businesses as a direct impact of this festival. Revenue flows through various industries, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, local cheese and agricultural producers, and local shops and restaurants. Local businesses like these are the heart of our communities. These businesses are what help our communities succeed.
The Stratford Festival achieved this by following a vision of co-operation with local business to come together and demonstrate the value of art in the community and by working hard to make this vision come to life.
The Government of Canada has been a proud supporter of the festival for many years. This government and previous governments have funded arts organizations to ensure that Canadians can enjoy our shared culture and heritage. We recognize that arts and culture give us an identity that makes us proud to be Canadian.
This House's recognition of the cultural and economic impact of the Stratford Festival is also the recognition of the positive impact that private sector partnerships with a not-for-profit community can produce: a vibrant, innovative, resilient arts organization that makes a long-term positive social, cultural, and economic impact on its community.
Since 2006, through funding programs at the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, our government has invested significant taxpayer dollars into the Stratford Festival. This funding helps generate thousands of jobs in Ontario, including 2,500 jobs in Stratford alone.
Considering the $139 million economic impact, it is a strong return on that investment. We know that our investment is delivering concrete economic results, and the Stratford Festival continues to think about ensuring its long-term sustainability by considering ways in which it can build other revenue streams.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival Foundation has used this program as leverage for private sector support and for the festival's endowment fund, which is now valued at over $62 million, making it one of the largest endowment funds held for a not-for-profit cultural organization in our great country.
I encourage members to support this motion to recognize the Stratford Festival, the tremendous contribution that our cultural sector makes in our communities with the support from their public and private partners, and the hard work of the member for Perth—Wellington.
I will finish my remarks a little early to help speed along the passage of this motion, but I have one final thought. Before I conclude with that final thought, I want to indicate how much I have enjoyed debating and arguing with the member for Perth—Wellington as to whether the Shaw Festival in Niagara is actually this country's epic display of both theatre and art or whether it is the Stratford Festival.
Mr. Speaker, my speech today, in snowbound Ottawa, will be anything but a Winter's Tale. It will tell a story that began over 60 years ago, on July 13, 1953. On that day, what had until then been A Midsummer Night's Dream in journalist Tom Patterson's mind became reality.
The Shakespearean lovers among my hon. colleagues will already have guessed what my intervention is about. On behalf of the Liberal caucus, as the Liberals' spokesperson for Canadian heritage, I wish to express our support for the motion tabled by the member for Perth—Wellington, which reads as follows:
That the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.
The motion from the government side is all the more welcome in that, so far, most of the government's forays into cultural affairs have been a Comedy of Errors. Let us hope that the motion will not amount of Much Ado About Nothing so that Canadian artists and cultural creators can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief and declare, “Now is the winter of our discontent”.
What is the reason for this motion? The question must be asked, because a festival as well known and prestigious as the Stratford Festival certainly does not need such a motion. The festival's fame is much greater than any motions this House may devote to it.
The House has never felt a need for a motion recognizing the economic and cultural contribution of the Quebec winter carnival or the Calgary Stampede. It would not occur to the Austrian parliament to recognize the Salzburg Festival as a great festival. It goes without saying. Even just stating that the Stratford Festival is a brilliant festival is as inarguable as saying the sun shines in the day and not at night.
Why is this motion before us? Surely it is not meant to incite a debate. There is nothing to debate, because no reasonable person could oppose this motion or oppose the Stratford Festival. Is there even one member of this House who would say, in Molière's words, not Shakespeare's, “Hide this festival that I must not see”?
No one would say that, of course, and certainly not a Quebecker, considering all the Quebeckers who have performed at this festival, beginning with the illustrious Jean Gascon, who served as its artistic director from 1968 to 1974.
Still, if we must have a debate, I can find more to talk about. I have the wit for that. I could say, for example, that the motion before us does not do complete justice to the Stratford Festival.
In order to ensure that All's Well That Ends Well, I could suggest adding a few words to the member for Perth—Wellington's motion as follows: That the House recognizes the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario, Canada and the whole world since its inception in 1953.
It is my opinion that in moving this motion, the hon. member for Perth—Wellington simply wanted to give us a farewell gift before leaving politics. He wanted to make us happy, along with everyone who loves and supports the Stratford Festival. I will happily take this opportunity to declare my admiration for the Stratford Festival.
For my own pleasure, I will continue to dot my speech with little quotes from Shakespeare, although I ask the indulgence of my anglophone colleagues to my accent, which tends a little too much towards Molière or Tremblay to be truly Shakespearean.
Of the Stratford Festival, nobody can say Love's Labour's Lost. This is because the festival has done an outstanding job of fulfilling its mandate: to set the standard for classical theatre in North America, using Shakespeare as its underpinning.
While focusing on entertaining its audience with classical, contemporary and musical theatre productions, the festival has also brilliantly fulfilled at least three other missions.
First, the festival trains, develops and nurtures Canadian artistic talent. It taps into and helps cultivate the great talent our nation has to offer.
Second, festivals like the Stratford Festival are major catalysts in strengthening the social and collective bonds of a community. The collaborative effort that goes into the organization of such festivals, the shared joyful experience of participants and spectators on the opening day and at every performance really brings a community together.
Just last month, I had the pleasure of visiting the great city of Stratford, meeting with members of the Stratford arts and culture community, as well as local citizens there. What struck me most was how much this festival is rooted in the identity of individual community members and how much this festival has helped individuals heighten their sense of community.
Third, art festivals provide economic growth. As the city's largest employer, the Stratford Festival contributes significantly to the multifaceted nature of the city and surrounding region, drawing millions of tourists, as well as art organizations and businesses, which bring them substantial economic activity, investments and local job opportunities.
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I thank everybody involved in the Stratford Festival for the great success they have achieved in promoting Canadian culture on the international stage and for showcasing what Canada has to offer to the global arts and culture scene. With no end in sight, the Stratford Festival espouses the Bard's words in Twelfth Night:
Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.
The Stratford Festival's greatness was not thrust upon it. That greatness is the result of vision, talent and hard work.
Let all Canadians and people abroad celebrate the festival's great success. Let them come to Stratford in great numbers to participate in this signature world-class experience.
Now, with sincere apologies to the author of the Scottish Play, I would remind all of my colleagues that: to vote or not vote in support of Motion No. 545, that is not the question. There is no question that we must vote for it.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in House today to speak to the motion put forward by the member for Perth—Wellington, which states:
That the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.
Indeed, we owe great thanks to Stratford's Tom Patterson, a journalist who saw his community suffering from the withdrawal of the railway industry, and dreamed of turning his town into a cultural destination by creating a theatre festival devoted to the works of William Shakespeare. In 1952, Patterson received a grant of $125 from Stratford's city council to begin pursuing his dream. Under the leadership of Harrison Showalter, a local soft drinks manufacturer, who chaired the chamber of commerce subcommittee for the project, their journey began.
In the spring of that same year, with the assistance of Dora Mavor Moore, an early pioneer of Canadian theatre, the committee was successful in recruiting legendary British director Tyrone Guthrie as the festival's first artistic director. Guthrie's enthusiasm for the opportunity to produce Shakespeare's works on a revolutionary thrust stage was infectious enough to attract Alec Guinness, who performed in the festival's inaugural performance of Richard Ill on July 13, 1953, on a stage created to Guthrie's specifications by world-renowned theatrical designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch. That original theatre was housed in a giant canvas tent.
The second production of the inaugural season was a modern-dress version of All's Well That Ends Well directed by Guthrie. Both productions met with critical acclaim, and because of ticket demands, the initial four-week season of the Stratford Festival was extended to six weeks. Tom Patterson's dream had become a reality.
Robertson Davies, Canada's celebrated novelist, playwright and critic, hailed the Festival as an achievement “of historic importance not only in Canada but wherever the theatre is taken seriously—that is to say, in every civilized country in the world”.
I would add that although we engage in theatre in this House, those theatrics do not detract from the important motion that we are debating here today.
At the end of the Festival's fourth season in 1956, the tent was dismantled for the last time and work began on a permanent facility to be erected around the Moiseiwitsch stage. Designed by architect Robert Fairfield, the new building was one of the most distinctive in the world of the performing arts, its circular floor plan and pie-crust roof paying striking tribute to the festival's origins under canvas.
I would like to say that much of my research for today's motion comes from the Stratford Festival. I would like to thank the festival archivists and historians whose work is so obviously a labour of love. I congratulate the current festival director Anita Gaffney, and wish to thank her for her assistance in providing festival information for me here today.
On July 1, 1957, the permanent theatre opened its doors for the premiere performance of Hamlet, with Christopher Plummer in the title role. The festival was so successful that in 1956 it began renting Stratford's Avon Theatre for non-Shakespearean productions, such as musical and concert productions, as well as film screenings.
In 1971, the festival established its third stage, renamed in 1991 in honour of its founder Tom Patterson. In 2002, the festival's fourth stage was created in the Studio Theatre, which debuted with a season of new Canadian work. Ever since that first season, the Stratford Festival has set benchmarks for the productions not only of Shakespeare, Molière, the ancient Greeks and other great dramatists of the past, but also of such 20th-century masters as Samuel Beckett, Anton Chekhov, Eugene O'Neill, and Tennessee Williams.
In addition to acclaimed productions of the best in operetta and musical theatre, it has also showcased and, in many cases, premiered works by outstanding Canadian and other contemporary playwrights. The festival's artists have included the finest actors, directors, and designers in Canada and the world, and Stratford's magnificent stages have been graced by such internationally renowned performers as Brian Bedford, Douglas Campbell, Brent Carver, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Colm Feore, Megan Follows, Lorne Greene, Julie Harris, Martha Henry, William Hutt, Loreena McKennitt, Richard Monette, John Neville, Nicholas Pennell, Sarah Polley, Douglas Rain, Kate Reid, Paul Scofield, William Shatner, Maggie Smith, Jessica Tandy, and Peter Ustinov, the glitterati of the world.
Tom Patterson's vision endures today in the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, recognized as a “signature experience” by the Canadian Tourism Commission. Since its inception, the festival has drawn more than 26 million visitors to the community, generating $139 million in economic activity each year, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating tax revenues of $75 million.
Of all the visitors to the region, more than 95% of them come for the Stratford Festival. With an annual operating budget of $56 million, the festival receives Canada Council funding Heritage Canada funding. This and the box office revenues support training programs for actors and directors, the local community and those who provide goods and services in the region.
The New Democrats understand the value of investment in the arts for the intrinsic value of building our cultural identity. We also understand the value of investment in the arts for its economic value, creating good jobs and income for local communities and small businesses.
The NDP platform supports restoring support for Canadian culture that has eroded over the past 20 years of Liberal and Conservative neglect. The Canadian Arts Coalition reports close to $200 million in permanent cuts to arts and culture spending to be implemented in the 2014-2015 Canadian Heritage portfolio, at the same time as cuts from the two previous Conservative budgets are still being rolled out. The cuts include reductions to Telefilm, the National Film Board and Library and Archives Canada budgets, with the majority of the cuts being inflicted on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Moreover, while the government lauds its protection of funding to the Canada Council for the Arts, the reality is that on a per capita basis, government funding to the Council has actually declined 2.5% since the 2005-2006 fiscal year.
All of these institutions have a valuable connection to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The CBC has filmed and broadcast productions of Shakespeare from the festival, and in an effort to diversify and expand its audience, the festival is embarking on exciting new projects such as the live simulcast productions of its plays in widescreen movie theatres across the country.
The Canadian arts community needs the support of its government in real funding in order to thrive. These cuts not only represent a backward ideology that stifles free thinking, they jeopardize creativity and community building. In very real terms, cuts to culture and the arts represent closed storefronts and unemployment for the people and communities that take their livelihood from the arts. Cuts to arts and culture funding threaten the presence of Canada on the international stage.
It is remarkable to me that the connection between a thriving arts community and a thriving economy is lost on the Conservative government, and let us be honest here, on previous Liberal governments, which made the deepest cuts to the CBC and left promises to restore funding unfulfilled.
The NDP proposes increased funding for the Canada Council, and exploring the creation of a new international touring fund. The NDP supports these measures because they generate incredible economic activity and bring in tourist dollars. They are an important investment in Canadian arts and the Canadian people.
The value of institutions such as the Stratford Festival to Canada's culture, identity and economy is enormous. Aside from its entertainment value, the festival has incredible cultural, social and economic impact. It contributes to the education of future generations of students, artists, actors and directors.
Support for artists and creators is integral and vital to creating a thriving economy. Support for cultural events such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is key. In the words of Prospero from the Tempest, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep”. Shakespeare's musings on our mortality still ring true. Governments come and governments go, but the theatre, its value ,and indeed the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, endure. It is up to all of us to protect that which is so precious to ensure that it does continue to endure.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to ask my colleagues to support my private member's Motion No. 545, that the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario, and Canada since its inception in 1953.
As a lifelong supporter of the arts in Canada, I have seen first-hand how arts organizations not only enrich our culture but also contribute greatly to the economy of the communities in which they are present. It is with this lifelong support of the arts that I say how very proud I am to represent the riding that is home to the world's renowned Stratford Festival.
The Stratford Festival stages some of the most celebrated theatre productions in the world, and with its distinguished reputation, attracts a wealth of prominent actors, designers, and directors. While it originated as a Shakespeare festival, the modern Stratford Festival spans April to October of each year and presents a wide variety of repertory theatre ranging from Shakespearean tragedies to musicals to contemporary pieces. It truly offers something everyone can enjoy.
However, this theatre does much more than create great plays, as it also reaches out to the community and visitors by offering a wide variety of other opportunities to experience the arts in Canada. These types of activities include musical nights, backstage tours, forum events, educational workshops, and visits to the theatre's archives. These diverse experiences entertain and inform over 400,000 visitors every year.
The Government of Canada has a strong history of supporting the Stratford Festival. On October 1, 1981, Canadian Heritage designated the Stratford Festival archives part of the moveable cultural property program. Since 2007, the festival has received significant federal funding through programs such as the Canada cultural spaces fund, the marquee tourism and events program, and the Canadian arts and heritage sustainability program. Clearly, the Government of Canada believes in supporting the Stratford Festival because it is important, and I am asking the House to recognize that importance.
In addition to making a very significant contribution to Canada's rich culture, the Stratford Festival is also a dynamic economic force. It provides 3,000 people with full-time jobs. It attracts visitors from around the world, and the valuable tourist dollars brought into the region provide strength and prosperity to the retail, dining, and hospitality industries. In total, the Stratford Festival generates approximately $140 million in economic activity each year. The Stratford Festival is a tremendous contributor to the economy of southwestern Ontario.
All of the people involved in the successful execution of the festival each year, since the first performance in 1953, have taken part because of their immense love of the arts. Because of this passion, these people have and continue to be dedicated to presenting quality plays that allow them to share their love of the arts, and, above all else, to entertain all the people who attend the festival each year.
My riding of Perth—Wellington has been enriched by the presence of the Stratford Festival. Over the last decade, Stratford has consistently ranked as one of the cities in Canada with the highest quality of life. It has been ranked recently as one of the most intelligent communities in the world. The recent addition of the University of Waterloo digital media campus in Stratford may not have happened were it not for the presence of this world-class festival.
The fine people of Stratford and our surrounding communities have, over the decades, welcomed people from all over who have come to see the festival and who have decided to come again and again, or even to stay. This has allowed unique communities, cultures, and industries to develop. Neighbourhoods and neighbouring towns have been able to showcase, preserve, and enhance their own heritage and cultural offerings. People who have come to work in Stratford and live in the area have travelled all over the country spreading and strengthening our artistic communities and have exported our own theatrical know-how across the globe to various corners of the world.
The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre is one example of the Stratford Festival helping to strengthen the artistic community in Canada. The conservatory was started to help teach and prepare talented actors for the rigorous requirements of acting in classical theatre. Each year, selected graduates of the theatre training program are paid and offered contracts with the Stratford Festival following completion of their conservatory work.
Farther from home, the Stratford Festival has involved itself in the Sharing a Dream initiative, an international development project in Suchitoto, El Salvador. Suchitoto is a community and region marked by severe violence over the last several decades and lacking cultural spaces and infrastructure. The goal of the project has been to replicate the conditions that allowed the festival to flourish in Stratford over 60 years ago, helping the citizens of Suchitoto to develop and transform itself into a self-sufficient centre for the arts in Central America.
The Stratford Festival has inspired scores of people to launch their own community festivals, dramatic or otherwise. The festival has helped to teach Canadians everywhere that we can be cultural ambassadors and that we have important things to say. In 1952, when the Stratford Festival founder, Tom Patterson, proposed his idea to create a Shakespearean festival to Stratford City Council, he was given a $125 grant to seek artistic advice. Because of the hard work, dedication, and optimism of countless workers and volunteers, that $125 grant has resulted in a world-renowned cultural festival that creates and supports thousands of local jobs and contributes millions of dollars to the economy.
This motion is in recognition of the contributions, both economic and cultural, that Tom Patterson and each of the countless individuals involved in the Stratford Festival have made to Canada. However, passing this motion would also provide the festival with a very valuable promotional tool. Giving the Stratford Festival such a rare honour would allow festival organizers the opportunity to tell the world that it is of such cultural and economic importance to our country that it has been recognized by the Parliament of Canada.
For these reasons, I ask the House of Commons to officially recognize the Stratford Festival and to give it the special distinction it has long deserved. I strongly encourage all members of this House to support this motion.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the Stratford Festival on the opening of their 2014 season. The festival is an integral part of the economy of Perth—Wellington. It creates thousands of full-time jobs and generates more than $130 million in economic activity.
Since 1953, people from around the world have come to Stratford for unparalleled performances from North America's leading theatre company. The fine list of productions this year includes King Lear, Crazy for You, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Man of La Mancha, and so many more.
Aside from world-class theatrical productions, the festival will host countless musical and cultural events.
I congratulate the Stratford Festival on its continued success and thank the festival for its enormous contributions to the city of Stratford, the surrounding area, and Canada.
Mr. Speaker, my riding of Perth—Wellington is among the greatest pork producing regions in the country. Pork producers are rightly concerned about the PED virus, which has spread throughout southern Ontario. I commend the pork producers for their strong efforts to contain the disease.
Our government-supported strong biosecurity measures on farms remain the best line of defence against PED. As provincial veterinary authorities continue to lead in investigating and tracing the cause of this disease, our government has instructed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to support these efforts.
In addition to the iPED+ vaccine, approved last month, the CFIA is leading an investigation into any possible links to animal feed.
I thank our pork producers, the Minister of Agriculture , and our government's ongoing efforts, vigilance, and dedication to protecting our farms, an integral part of our economy.
Mr. Speaker, many communities in my riding of Perth—Wellington have benefited substantially from our Conservative government's actions. Can the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities inform the House of what our government is doing to support communities across the country, especially small communities like many in my own riding?
Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Perth—Wellington, we are blessed to have some of the finest communities in the country.
In the 2013 Communities in Bloom competition, our riding was proudly represented by grand champion: Stratford and the town of Minto, which received the Land Reclamation Award for the beautification of their green spaces as well as their civic engagement.
Two recipients from the same area is no accident. Maybe it is due to our picturesque and welcoming small towns or our abundant farms and rich fields. Having the dynamic and cosmopolitan nature of Stratford and its signature festival, the finest in North America, certainly helps too.
Whatever the cause, there certainly is something very special about our area. I thank these communities and all our constituents for their hard work toward the preservation and enhancement of our wonderful communities.
Mr. Speaker, next week is National Volunteer Week and I would like to highlight that importance by honouring the 13 million volunteers of this country who have donated the valuable gifts of time and energy to improving their communities.
In my riding of Perth—Wellington, volunteers understand the importance of helping every generation. Volunteers from many non-profit organizations and retirement homes, such as One Care and Royal Palisade, deliver peace of mind and well-being to these families, caregivers and clients. Perth—Wellington volunteers from organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters devote hours to assist our youth with the proper mentorship and guidance so they may become the future leaders and contributors of our country.
I wish to extend my thanks and appreciation to all our volunteers for their dedication to improving our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to pay tribute to the countless volunteers and community organizations in Perth—Wellington who are working to make Christmas a little brighter for local families.
In Stratford, the Kiwanis Christmas basket fund will once again provide families in need with all the trimmings for a full Christmas dinner. Organizations like the Stratford House of Blessing are particularly busy at this time of year, as they ensure that families have clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads. In the town of Mitchell, volunteers are busy gathering toys and gifts as part of the Angel Tree program so that young children will have a gift under the tree on Christmas morning.
In the food banks in communities across Wellington and Perth counties, donations are needed now more than ever to keep the cupboards stocked. We are blessed to live in such a wonderful country. I hope that those Canadians who are able to will look for opportunities to give generously to make Christmas special in their communities.
Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, Canadians gathered to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. Today I rise to thank those who put the turkeys on our tables: Canadian farmers.
Farmers not only feed cities, they drive the Canadian economy.
Our government understands the importance of the agriculture sector for the Canadian economy. That is why we will continue to make agriculture a key priority, especially in parts of the country like my riding of Perth—Wellington where so many are employed in the agricultural sector. We are helping farmers by developing markets overseas to promote Canadian food and agricultural exports and to strengthen our agriculture sector.
Growing up in a rural community has given me a strong appreciation for the work farmers do. I know hon. members will join with me in offering Canadian farmers the thanks they well deserve.
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, June 6, will mark the 68th anniversary of D-Day when nearly 25,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen stormed Juno Beach in Normandy and helped to turn the tide of the Second World War.
Our troops would pay a brutal cost to begin the liberation of Europe, with 5,400 Canadian graves in Normandy, the highest in the British army group.
I am very proud to have several D-Day veterans in my riding of Perth—Wellington, men like Chief Warrant Officer Art Boon and Battery Sergeant Major Stuart Jeffra who landed with the 19th Field Regiment, as well as Chief Warrant Officer Bill Broughton and Corporal Ray Huras who landed with the Highland Light Infantry.
Canada has always been a peaceful nation but our warriors have always brought an equal measure of determination and courage to battle when peace or freedom is at stake.
I know hon. members will join with all Canadians in recognizing our D-Day veterans.
Mr. Speaker, this week, in Perth—Wellington, 120 combines will harvest 160 acres of soy beans in less than 10 minutes. If all goes as planned, not only will the participants break a world record, but they will also raise over $200,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. What is more, CIDA will match these funds four to one, making this Harvest for Hunger event worth close to $1 million.
As hon. members know, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of Canadian churches and church-based agencies working to end hunger in developing countries.
I am very proud of the hard work that the Harvest for Hunger organizers have put into this event. This is a fun and exciting example of government, community organizations and individual Canadians partnering together to change the world.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Perth—Wellington for his right of reply.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-473 today, having spoken to it once before at second reading. I realize that the bill has now gone through the committee process and amendments that were contemplated at the time have been resolved. So, we are at the point now where we have to make a decision as to whether we support it at third reading and send it off to the Senate.
It appears, so far anyway, that the Bloc and the Liberals are deciding against supporting the bill primarily because the legions have shown concerns about it, primarily over the issue of private property rights. I have to say that I have several very active legions in my consistency, and I regularly attend each and every event they invite me to. I have not heard any concern from them about this particular issue.
For all the reasons that the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore gave in his argument, I would support his arguments 100%. In some ways we feel the bill does not go far enough because if the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore had his way, Bill C-208, would be much tougher and would basically outlaw the practice. However, this bill that the member for Perth—Wellington has introduced is a very nice compromise. I do not see why the NDP caucus would have any problem supporting it. Essentially, as I understand it, we are basically allowing the military museums in this country the first right of refusal, which they should have, to buy the medals and to put the medals on display. Only if they do not want to purchase the medals, then the family, or individual, would have the option of doing what they wish with them.
I know we are very limited in time today, but I really did want to deal for a few minutes with a very important case, that of Tommy Prince, who is one of the most decorated aboriginal war heroes, having served in World War II and the Korean War. This man became so famous after his death, and I will read a list of the various streets and awards that have been named after him since his death.
However, the fact is that he was not treated that well in his life when he left the services. Reading about his activities during the conflicts and during the wars that he was involved in, this man was a number one soldier. He did things that are pretty hard to believe, such as operating in sort of a black ops capacity behind enemy lines and doing some pretty spectacular things. After getting out of the forces and going back to civilian life he was treated very poorly, to the point where his medals, I believe there were 10 of them, ended up being sold.
A number of years later, his family went on a fundraising drive in order to buy the medals back. The medals were purchased at auction for around $72,000 and are now being displayed in the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg where people can see them.
Tommy Prince was, as I indicated, one of Canada's most decorated aboriginal war heroes. He served in World War II and the Korean War. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Engineers, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and the First Special Service Force, consisting of Canadian and American troops trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana, to form what became known as the famous Devil's Brigade.
Prince and other men in his unit were chosen for their rugged outdoor background and received the most vigorous training schedule under live fire ever undertaken by an army unit. All members of the elite squad, similar to the American Green Berets started in the 1960s, were trained to be paratroopers and received intense instruction in stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, the use of explosives for demolition, amphibious warfare, rock climbing, mountain fighting and as ski troops. They are described as the best small force of fighting men ever assembled. As a member of the Devil's Brigade, Prince was involved in fierce combat duty and numerous dangerous missions in Italy and France.
Some of the honours that have been bestowed on him since his death in 1977 include: Sgt. Tommy Prince Street in Winnipeg; Tommy Prince Barracks at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario; Tommy Prince Drill Hall at the Land Force Western Area Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta; Government of Canada Sergeant Tommy Prince Army Training Initiative for aboriginal recruiting; the Tommy Prince award, an Assembly of First Nations scholarship.
To my friend the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie, I point out that there is a Tommy Prince scholarship at Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, which is given out on an annual basis and will be given out in the next few months.
There is a school named after him at Brokenhead Reserve. There is a mural on the wall at 1083 Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg; the Tommy Prince Cadet Corps in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Tommy Prince Veterans' Park also in Winnipeg.
Adam Beach is going to star in a movie to be made about Tommy Prince's life. Adam Beach and members of his family are friends of my family and are known to us in Winnipeg. They are a very successful family. He has made a number of movies in Hollywood.
I would like to briefly detail one or two examples of the type of activities that Tommy Prince did behind enemy lines.
In Italy he set up in an abandoned farmhouse about 200 metres from the enemy assembly area, well behind the enemy lines, with 1,400 metres of telephone wire connecting him to the force. He had a clear view of the enemy emplacements and he was reporting on them so the force could shoot at the guns. Artillery duel followed as the allies attempted to knock out the guns reported by Prince. While he was reporting they were shooting at him. One of those rounds cut the telephone wire. When the duel died down, Prince donned civilian clothing, grabbed a hoe and in full view of the German soldiers pretended to be a farmer weeding his crops. He slowly inched his way along the line until he found where the line was damaged and, pretending to tie his shoelaces, rejoined the wires together. After finishing the repairs he made a show of shaking his fist at the enemy and then toward the allied lines, returned to his lookout where he continued giving reports over the telephone line for the next 24 hours while the allies were knocking the German batteries out of action. He spent three days behind enemy lines and for his actions he was awarded the military medal and citation. Medals were given to him by the president of the United States and King George VI.
We are talking about somebody who was right at the top of his game. There are other examples that I could give during the Korean conflict of similar acts of bravery on the part of this individual.
When he was honourably discharged on June 15, 1945 he went back to his reserve but life was not good. All the adulation he had received and the success he had in the army did not follow him into his private life. He had some kind of business with a truck that did not pan out in the long run. The point is the man died having to sell his medals. The family had to eventually buy them back for $75,000.
We support the bill. It is a good--
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-473 and the important steps it proposes to increase the protection of Canada's military heritage.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for his hard work here in this House, the work he does on his committee, certainly the work he does in his great southern Ontario riding, and for bringing this matter forward to remind ourselves of the importance of honouring the courage and sacrifice of Canadians.
“Service before self”, “extreme devotion to duty”, “distinguished and valiant service in the presence of the enemy”, “conspicuous merit”, and “exceptional service”, these are all words inscribed or used to describe the military conduct that is recognized by the Modern Honours of Canada.
The declarations, medals and orders that we have established are to recognize heroism and acts that to many of us seem almost unimaginable. These declarations, medals and orders are touchstones for the recipient, their families, and for all of us. They form the basis for telling the story of ordinary Canadians undertaking extraordinary challenges. They remind us that Canada's armed forces have faced and continue to face those challenges far from home.
Korea, Kuwait, Somalia, Southwest Asia, and Afghanistan are names of places in Canada's military heritage that echo other names: Vimy, Passchendaele, Dieppe, Normandy, Ortona, and Hong Kong. Canadians know these names. They are names that are synonymous with courage, sacrifice and, yes, with loss and sorrow.
The government has taken many steps to preserve and honour these stories, and memories of the courage and sacrifice of Canadians in the name of a greater good. There are hundreds of memorials all over the world where Canada remembers her war dead and their sacrifice.
More than 116,000 have given their lives in the wars of the past century and their final resting places are located in more than 75 countries. Monuments have been created to honour Canadians in locations such as Beaumont-Hamel, France, where, on July 1, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment fought its first engagement of World War I; its costliest of the war. In locations such as Sai Wan Bay, where just recently the Prime Minister paid his respects to those 228 Canadians who died so far from home in defence of Hong Kong during the second world war.
Canada's military heritage is also preserved in museums and archives across Canada. Library Archives Canada preserves military service files, war diaries, and other documents from the 1800s through both world wars. Canada's national museums preserve military material of all kinds, from aircraft to uniforms to medals. The Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum alone have more than 1,000 medals, including at least 28 Victoria Crosses, Canada's highest military honour.
A network of Canadian Forces museums across the country tell the story of individual regiments like the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, founded at the outbreak of World War I, and which continues to distinguish itself to the present day in Afghanistan. The Royal 22nd Regiment's museum collection, housed at the Citadel of Quebec, spans more than 300 years of history.
The courage and sacrifice of Canada's armed forces lives not just in the history books, not just in museums, it lives nightly on the television news. Medals continue to be awarded to Canadians for military service and for sacrifice.
Last year we saw the first presentation of the sacrifice medal, created to recognize members of the Canadian armed forces and those who work with them who have been wounded or killed by hostile action, and to Canadian Forces members who died as a result of their service.
The sacrifice of these 46 Canadians, who received this new medal, include members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the Royal 22nd Regiments. This is no less important than the sacrifice of those Canadians who lie in the Sai Wan Bay cemetery in Hong Kong. The medals, orders and decorations now being bestowed on deserving Canadians should enjoy the same respect and protection as those awarded for courage at the Somme and Ypres.
The estimated 450,000 Modern Honours of Canada that have been awarded since 1967 and that Bill C-473 seeks to protect deserve that protection. Bill C-473 affirms that the modern Victoria Cross will deserve the same protection as those awarded over the past two centuries.
Existing federal legislation protects military medals, orders and decorations, and it does so by intervening at the point of export to create opportunities for Canadian museums to acquire these objects, so that they may remain in Canada when they would otherwise be lost to foreign owners.
Bill C-473 will complement this existing mechanism by affording similar protection to modern models. It will ensure that if a significant modern medal, order or decoration is in danger of permanently leaving Canada, an opportunity will be created for acquisition by a museum collection where it will be preserved and shared with the public.
In order to make the bill dovetail with existing legislation and avoid overlap with it, the standing committee noted that the Cultural Property Export and Import Act protects medals from the point where they are 50 years old, and amended the bill to clarify that it protects medals that are less than 50 years old.
Another amendment to the bill that was adopted in committee was an expansion of the list of federal entities to whom an offer to sell must be made when an important medal will be exported.
In addition to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, the list now includes the Canadian Forces. This amendment was done specifically so that the family of more than 60 accredited Canadian Forces museums across Canada will have a chance to acquire these important medals.
It recognizes the close relationship between members of the armed forces, their regiments, and the communities that play host to those regiments. It is only right that some of these medals find their way into the collections of local regimental museums.
In this way, Bill C-473 will allow museums to continue to educate the public about the long legacy of Canada's military heritage, and the contribution is has made and continues to make to our country.
To honour the brave Canadians who receive these honours, it is our responsibility to preserve that legacy. I support the amendments that have been made to Bill C-473 because they make the bill stronger and more consistent with the existing protection of historic medals.
I support Bill C-473 and encourage all members of this House to do the same.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak for the second time to Bill C-473.
There has been an evolution of thought and understanding about the bill since I spoke last April. The process that happened at committee was very enlightening. It reminded me that it is important for us to take seriously that when we pass a bill at second reading and send it to committee for study, it is exactly for that. It is to study a bill, to hear from witnesses, interest groups, stakeholders, Canadians from every walk of life and to ensure their testimony is taken seriously. Committee members heard that testimony and that testimony has convinced me we should not support the bill.
I want to congratulate the member for Perth—Wellington for fostering an important discussion in bringing the bill forward. We have had an interesting discussion with respect to the nature of honours, orders, military insignia and medals. We also had the opportunity to look at the difference between a public story and a private story.
The Royal Canadian Legion, in particular, offered some important testimony that needs to be understood in the House.
Ms. Patricia Varga, who is the president of the Royal Canadian Legion, said, on behalf of a number of groups, that it had serious concerns about the bill. Those groups included the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans Association, the Canadian Naval Air Group, the Royal Canadian Naval Association, the Naval Officers Association of Canada, the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veterans Association, the National Aboriginal Veterans Association, the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and, finally, the Gulf War Veterans Association.
As a result of their testimony, my caucus colleagues are concerned about the bill. We think it is an inadequate bill, which will not actually deal with the problems at hand.
Ms. Varga pointed out two problems with this bill.
First, enacting Bill C-473 would infringe on the rights of Canadians to own and dispose of their private property as they see fit. This is a right that should not be trampled on lightly. This right is already restricted to a degree by the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. If it is not sufficient to retain historically and culturally significant orders, decorations and medals within Canada, then that specific act needs to be amended. Additional overlapping legislation is not the answer.
Second, there is a concern that the bill will simply not be effective. In order for legislation such as this to work, the barn door needs to be fully closed. The bill would leave it partially open so significant orders, decorations and medals would still be able to leave Canada. If enacted, Bill C-473 will likely drive the sale of significant orders, decorations and medals underground and all visibility of transactions will be lost. They will be bought and sold as they are every day in large quantities and in international markets. This can be verified by checking eBay, which tends to handle the run of the mill lots and not the high end items.
A significant number of other problems have been reported and were part of the testimony heard at committee. They have been identified in various forms and they should be addressed in a future bill that would actually be more effective.
There is a problem in the bill with respect to terminology. In common parlance, only orders have insignia. Decorations, such as the Victoria Cross, and medals are simply referred to as medals. We should be discussing orders, decorations and medals.
There is a concern that the government has not been responsive to the interest groups, to the veterans associations themselves, about amendments that they wanted to put forward. Those amendments included the definition of “near relatives”, the transfer of medals “outside of Canada”, the expansion of the list of museums and organizations that awards and medals could be offered to and the addition of the maximum amount for any penalty imposed. There does not appear to have been any follow up to the recommendations of the Royal Canadian Legion.
They also expressed a concern about acceptable museums to receive these awards. Only the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Department of Canadian Heritage are deemed to be acceptable recipients of ODM. This overlooks a large number of provincial, regional and local museums as well as military museums and commands and branches of the Royal Canadian Legion. Other museums or veterans' organizations might very well be interested in acquiring, by purchase or otherwise, such medals falling within the limits of the bill.
There is a concern that even if we were able to do that, the museums have very limited funding for acquiring such medals. To be effective, the bill would need to ensure that there would be a well-funded national medals acquisition budget. Otherwise, medals offered for sale might well leave Canada because there were simply no funds to purchase them anyway.
Most, if not all, museums have limited storage and display space. Just because an offered medal or made available and is historically of cultural significance, a museum should not be obligated to purchase it if it does not fit into its collecting mandate.
There is a perception that such awards and medals do not have much value and therefore would not be affected by legislation such as this. This is incorrect. Should they come into the open market, modern medal groups, especially those with gallantry awards from Afghanistan, would command high prices. This is a concern. It is an observation that has been made to the committee. If this is correct, then the act needs to be changed to reflect this.
In conclusion, despite the merits and now the drawbacks of the bill, the larger discussion that needs to be had is why in fact some veterans may be forced to put such medals on the market. Why has the government failed, or is failing, to ensure an appropriate system of compensation for veterans so they do not need to sell awards or medals and instead can simply pass them on to the family as cherished items?
A concern we constantly have on this side of the House is that food banks for veterans still prevail. One can go to Calgary and find one. One can go to a drop-in centre in Calgary and meet homeless veterans who sleep there by night. My concern is the government constantly does not fulfill its obligations to ensure that no veteran faces poverty.
The electoral district of Perth--Wellington (Ontario) has a population of 103,874 with 72,944 registered voters and 217 polling divisions.
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