March 2, 2000

LIB

Rey D. Pagtakhan

Liberal

Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan

Would the member just be quiet please out of respect for democracy? The Reform Party speaks about democracy, but at the same time when I try to speak in a way that somehow pierces his heart and pierces his conscience, the member is trying to disturb me. He cannot disturb me in the ultimate analysis.

The real test of confidentiality is when one is tempted to breach it and one resists that. That is the real test of living up to confidentiality, even when only one person is opposed during that census time who may be living now and says “No, that may not be released”.

I did not know this motion would be debated. What is really at stake here is that sense of public trust. The member from the Reform Party is laughing at public trust. I am really saddened, but he will not distract me. Only the persons who did not give consent to revealing confidential information may withdraw it and have it released. That is the essence of confidentiality. He who cannot live with confidentiality I challenge. How can we trust that particular person?

The real test of confidentiality is when we are tempted to breach it for some other wishes and if we do not then we have lived up to the principle of confidentiality. That is why, if I may add, at one time there was a study of medical confidentiality in Ontario by the Grange commission. You know, Mr. Speaker, because you belong to the legal profession, you would fully appreciate that it would impose the most severe penalty for breach of confidentiality.

In conclusion I say I hope we do not support this motion. It would be a breach of public trust. It would be a breach of our promise. Though now they may be deceased the more we should respect them.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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?

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of this item of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   1911 Census Records
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should commemorate Stanley Knowles by declaring June 18 (birthday of Mr. Knowles) of each year to be Stanley Knowles Day throughout Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here this evening to speak to the motion respecting a day to recognize the late Stanley Knowles. Stanley Knowles, the parliamentarian and the man, goes beyond partisan views. His work here in the House over the years received great acclaim from all parties.

I wanted us as Canadians and as parliamentarians to recognize Stanley Knowles. As well I am looking to our recognizing other great Canadians by designating days for them. We fail to do that as Canadians. We recognize Victoria Day. Certainly we have historical connections to England and to the Royal Family. The U.S. recognizes numerous days. It takes pride in its history and in its great leaders that brought that country over the years to a democratic system.

I think as Canadians we fail to do that. We fail to take pride in our country. As a result we see some of the problems we are in today. We do not take the time to be proud of the people who have worked for our democratic country and have led it through the years. I will speak a lot about Stanley Knowles because it was my intent that it would be the opportune time as we go into the new millennium to recognize him as the man that he was.

Without question Stanley Knowles is a legendary Canadian. He was a pioneering New Democrat with an intergenerational voice who spoke for all and still speaks to us now. My colleague, our health critic, mentioned in his speech today what Stanley Knowles gave us in 1958. Does that still speak to us today about our going through the same things in the House of Commons. He said:

We welcome the beginning of a hospital insurance plan. But if it is a good idea to cover hospital bills by an insurance plan, why not do the same for all medical bills? The Liberals promised health insurance in 1919 but had no intention of starting it until 1959. Apparently, it was Mr. Mackenzie King's reading of the Bible, about the children of Israel having to wander the wilderness for 40 years, that prompted him to require the people of Canada to wander in the wilderness of high medical costs for 40 years before making even a start in this field.

He went on to say:

And now we have the spectacle of the present Liberal leader promising, all over again, what the Liberal Party first pledged itself to 40 years ago.

Here we are, another 42 years later. Does it not sound familiar? He further stated:

But Pearson's promise today is even more vague and misleading than most Liberal promises have proved to be.

I think Stanley Knowles definitely speaks to us even today. As well I will take this opportunity to comment that Stanley Knowles also said:

Debate is not a sin, a mistake, an error or something to be put up with in parliament. Debate is the essence of parliament.

What have we seen as parliamentarians in the House of Commons in the last while with this government? Numerous time allocations and probably the most horrendous thing today is that regulations will be passed once again to stifle the voice of parliamentary debate. I am sure Stanley Knowles would be turning over in his grave.

My colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona said in his eulogy to Stanley Knowles:

He was the last of a line of prairie ministers whose view of politics was shaped by their belief in the social gospel and biblical prophecies...Stanley was an exemplary politician. His knowledge of parliamentary rules and proceedings superseded that of many of his colleagues on either side of the House.

To understand Stanley Knowles we must understand the indissoluble link between Stanley Knowles the politician and Stanley Knowles the man. This was Stanley Knowles' integrity, his ability to bring together his belief system and his unwavering faith in our parliamentary system.

Growing up, Stanley had faced challenges that led him to follow the path that he did. As stated in the Montreal Gazette a few days after he passed on:

His social-democratic views were formed the hard way: by the death of his mother, Margaret, to tuberculosis and poor health care when he was 11. His father, Stanley Ernest, lost his job during the Depression without pension or benefit.

Stanley Knowles was on a lifelong mission. He himself stated “This became more or less the goal of my life, to correct what happened to my own family”.

Is that not often what it takes to get us going, to really fight for the things we believe in, that we do not want to see other people suffer some of the problems, illnesses and tragedies that we had to go through. We want to make a better life for the people around us and for our families.

Stanley's political career with the CCF began in 1934. He held various positions throughout those years including that of national vice-president from 1954 to 1961. His son David said that his father initially decided that he would work to save people's souls through the church but he soon realized that preaching from the pulpit was not going to put food on the table or get people hospital care. He realized he was in the wrong place and he should be in parliament.

According to historian Susan Mann he had to change laws rather than souls. Stanley Knowles went out to preach from a different house, the House of Commons. He ran for parliament in 1935 and again in 1940. He was elected as the CCF member for Winnipeg North Centre on November 30, 1942.

I now have two colleagues, the member for Winnipeg Centre and for Winnipeg North Centre, who represent the riding that Stanley once represented.

Stanley succeeded the late J. S. Woodsworth. He was elected in 1945, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1979 and 1980. How would any of us feel to have the support of our constituents the way they stood behind this man because of the man he was? His integrity was never at question. That we should be elected that many times, we would definitely deserve to have our name recognized within Canada, a day recognized on our behalf, if we were able to make that kind of commitment to our constituents.

Stanley's career as a parliamentarian was brilliant. Many honours were bestowed upon him in recognition of his knowledge of parliamentary procedure and his integrity as a social democrat.

In 1957 John Diefenbaker offered Stanley the Speakership. According to the Montreal Gazette , the new Tory prime minister, the highly partisan John Diefenbaker was so impressed by Mr. Knowles that he offered him the job as Speaker of the Commons. Mr. Knowles declined. Why did he decline? He declined because it would constrain his ability to fight for pension reform on behalf of his constituents. That was a parliamentarian.

For Stanley Knowles the politician, government and its laws were to become his instruments of transformation and education to make Canadian society a better place for all. He fought persistently for the elderly and more specifically for the national pension plan. He also fought for the poor, for children, for women and for veterans.

During his 42 years in the House, Stanley not only gained respect for the role of parliament and its procedure but a sound understanding of it. It is no wonder that his career as a parliamentarian did not end when he ended his term as an active member of parliament in 1984.

NDP leader Ed Broadbent suggested that the House honour Stanley. Prime Minister Trudeau at that time followed through on the suggestion with a lifelong membership in the House and a seat at the clerk's table.

On March 13, 1984, the House voted unanimously and Stanley was able to keep living in the house that was his home, the House of Commons. In October of the same year Stanley Knowles was recognized as an officer of the Order of Canada.

Regardless of his health needs and his frailty, Stanley still attended question period daily. I am sure all of us would be thrilled to say that we had been in question period daily for our whole time here in Ottawa. He enjoyed the ritual, the rules and the history of parliament's hallowed halls which he has now joined.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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LIB

Rey D. Pagtakhan

Liberal

Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North—St. Paul, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is good to be on duty in the House today and to participate in two debates on subjects that are close to my heart.

Let me speak about Stanley Knowles. Mr. Speaker, I believe you and I came to the House at the same time in 1988. I then represented Winnipeg North. I understand from the political history that a small part of that riding had previously been represented by Mr. Stanley Knowles. I inherited with great pride the tradition that Mr. Knowles left. I saw to it to have a conversation with him during my first few days on Parliament Hill. I will continue to cherish that memory.

He reminded me of the first speech he gave when he was in California. It was about the Philippines, my country of birth. He was a vivid and caring person. Indeed I agree that he was a visionary and a person of deep social conscience. He fought for the poor, veterans and seniors, the very essence of our political calling. He said that debate gives testimony to democracy and I agree. He spoke of procedure and how to use it to effect a change. But he said that the procedural rules as they existed should never be abused by any frivolous approach to the procedures. He said that within the existing procedures we should use our imagination to advance our cause. In fact, I very much enjoyed reading the book in my first few months on Parliament Hill.

It was my extreme honour a couple of years ago when the Minister of Public Works and Government Services requested that I appear on his behalf and speak on behalf of the Government of Canada in the naming of a building in Winnipeg for Stanley Knowles. It was an honour for me to be with the members of his family.

In closing, by continuing to honour Mr. Stanley Knowles, we are honouring and sustaining the nobility of politics itself.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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REF

Gurmant Grewal

Reform

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to speak to Motion No. 211 which calls on the government to declare June 18 to be Stanley Knowles Day.

I begin my remarks by commending the hon. member for Churchill for introducing this motion on behalf of the NDP and in fact Canadians who look up to Mr. Knowles and have great respect for his work.

Mr. Knowles was born on June 18, 1908. As you know, Mr. Speaker, I am a relatively new Canadian. My family and I have been in Canada less than 10 years. Still I know a little bit about Stanley Knowles and from what I know I can say that I highly appreciate what he did for our country.

He was a politician who was dedicated to representing the people who elected him. He delivered his maiden speech to the House on February 3, 1943. He represented the riding of Winnipeg North Centre for over 37 years, from 1942 to 1958 and again from 1962 to 1984. That alone can be considered a remarkable feat. I wonder how many of us can even imagine enjoying such a large amount of support for so many years. The people of Winnipeg had a great deal of confidence in their MP.

The NDP member for Churchill should be commended. The socialist camp in our country must be very proud of Stanley Knowles, claiming him as one of their own. I know that Stanley sat at the clerk's table for many years after he completed his career as a member of parliament. In 1984 he became the only member of parliament ever to be made an honorary officer of the House of Commons with a lifelong chair at the clerk's table.

To the credit of the Liberal government of the day, it was former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who extended the generous and kind offer to Mr. Knowles to stay as a member of the House with his own office in this very building.

As a long time House leader of the NDP, his knowledge of the rules and his love for parliament had no equal. A follower of the social gospel, he was renowned for his advocacy on behalf of the elderly, veterans, the poor and other disadvantaged Canadians. Canadians will be glad to be reminded of Mr. Knowles' accomplishments in this place.

He delivered what some have called one of the greatest speeches in the House while opposing the Liberal government's use of time allocation. The way I have heard the story told, during the 1957 pipeline debate the Louis St. Laurent government tried to cut off debate in the House. That was a Liberal government. The Liberals were trying to limit debate in the same way the Liberal government today does time and again. Back in those days the government's use of closure and time allocation was not common.

Mr. Knowles was a western populist. He came from the roots of where the NDP and the Reform Party supporters come from. My colleagues and I are here to represent those Canadians who know how Stanley Knowles felt when the government tried to use time allocation to ram a bill through the House.

The present government has used time allocation and closure at least 61 times to deprive elected members of the House an opportunity to debate. This is ridiculous. This is so undemocratic that it is anti-democratic. It is almost a dictatorship.

In fact the 60th time the government closed debate on a bill was the week before last on the very day the House was supposed to be debating this motion. The government shut down debate on the clarity bill aimed at clarifying how a future referendum for secession will be conducted. This occurred on the very day we were going to ask the government to make arrangements to commemorate an hon. member of the House, someone who fought against time allocation and closure and the limiting of debate in the House. It is so ironic that the man who fought against time allocation on the pipeline bill, a very famous debate in the House more than 40 years ago, is himself the topic of debate in the House.

The 61st time the Liberals cut off debate was on the bill that makes changes to the Canada Elections Act. This bill favours the governing party and in this case it favours the Liberal Party and the Liberals are not going to change that. They have not listened to the Chief Electoral Officer and they have not listened to the witnesses who appeared before the committee. They have no respect for the kind of forward thinking Stanley Knowles was famous for. He would not have supported this legislation if he were speaking from this side of the House.

The Liberals have been in power for almost seven years. They only have to shut down debate on any bill in the House five more times and they will be tied with Brian Mulroney's all-time record of 66 times. It took Mulroney nine years to stifle democracy 66 times. The Liberals are ahead and they are likely going to set the record for being undemocratic.

When closure was first used to end a debate it was done because debate had gone on for 42 consecutive days. That is why closure was required at that time.

The Liberals shut down the debate on the clarity bill after just 42 minutes. They shut down the debate on extending benefits to same sex partners after just one hour and six minutes. They shut down debate on the changes to the elections act, which I described earlier, after just two hours and forty minutes. It was an important bill and they let debate continue for only two hours and forty minutes. It is unbelievable. It is shameful. Stanley Knowles is turning over in his grave, I am sure. The Liberals have learned nothing from Stanley Knowles.

We should have a Stanley Knowles day. We need to celebrate the lives of those who have contributed so much to our country.

We can describe Stanley Knowles as a Canadian hero who stood for democracy in the House, who was famous for standing for the rights of elected members to debate anything they were supposed to debate. He championed the rights of the people. He left his mark on this place. It is important for future generations to know that such a man existed.

It is encouraging for young Canadians to learn of the accomplishments of a single Canadian who stood for the rights of members to debate in the House, who stood for democracy in the House. It is very inspiring for young Canadians. June 18, which was his birthdate, falls within the school year. It is a good time to establish this day, a day of remembrance and education.

I commend the hon. member for Churchill for introducing this motion to remind the House and to remind the Liberals who are asleep at the wheel that democracy is important. It will remind them how important the Canada Elections Act is, which will allow free and fair elections in this country. It will remind Liberals that free debate should be allowed in the House without debate being cut off, without turning this place into an anti-democratic institution.

Therefore, I am glad to speak in support of the motion and I wish the member the best of luck. I hope she succeeds and I hope the Liberals will learn from Stanley Knowles.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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BQ

Hélène Alarie

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ)

Mr. Chairman, without a shadow of a doubt, Stanley Knowles was a great Canadian parliamentarian.

The fact that the House of Commons let him sit in the House to hear our debates bears witness to the esteem that all parties had for Mr. Knowles. It is not surprising, therefore, that thought is now being given to having a day dedicated to his memory. This is a most praiseworthy idea.

There are a few questions, however, that have to be asked before commemorating an individual or an event. First of all, what is the purpose of commemorating that individual or event? Primarily, it is to call to mind the values and principles we have been taught by that individual or event.

Consequently, when there is a desire to commemorate an individual, as there is today, it is important for the values and principles that person defended to be evident to all. A goodly number of Canadians and Quebecers might deserve having a day dedicated to them. People distinguish themselves in all areas of endeavour, be it the arts, business, teaching, science, medicine or some other field.

Why are they not commemorated, despite their accomplishments? Because they are not widely known, and the population as a whole does not associate the values and principles they defended with these individuals.

Mr. Knowles was very well known to parliamentarians and to his fellow Winnipeggers but, and this is regrettable, the average Canadian or Quebecer has no idea of the values and principles defended by Stanley Knowles. Therefore, in spite of all the merits of Stanley Knowles, dedicating a day to his memory would not help promote these values and principles.

These remarks are not meant to take anything away from Mr. Knowles' exceptional career as a parliamentarian. That career was indeed exceptional in more ways than one, and particularly in terms of its length. After working as a typsetter and printer, Stanley Knowles represented his fellow citizens in parliament for 37 years, between 1942 and 1984. The figures tell the tale: he was elected 13 times to the House of Commons.

His career is also exceptional in terms of his contribution to the Canadian parliamentary system, which is a very topical issue these days. Stanley Knowles thought and wrote about the role of the opposition in this parliament. He also made a contribution to the debate on the role of the Senate.

Stanley Knowles played a key role within his party, the New Democratic Party, particularly when the NDP was founded to replace the CCF, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, in 1961.

Stanley Knowles' exceptional contribution to Canadian democracy was largely recognized in his home province of Manitoba, where everyone knew him. In Winnipeg, a school and a park are named after him.

His memory is also honoured in Brandon University, of which he was chancellor for 20 years, from 1970 to 1990, with the Stanley Knowles chair for political studies. Here in this House, he is the only person ever to receive the title of honorary member of the House of Commons. Stanley Knowles was also made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1985.

Stanley Knowles made a remarkable contribution to Canadian democracy. His exceptional contribution was recognized by Canadians and they are grateful to him.

However, in spite of all his merits, to dedicate a day to Stanley Knowles would not help promote his values and principles among the public. It would not add anything to the political stature of the man.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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PC

Mark Muise

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC)

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour and a privilege for me to have this opportunity to rise in the House to debate the motion that would see us commemorate the wonderful life of Mr. Stanley Knowles by recognizing his birthday on June 18.

I would also like to congratulate the hon. member for Churchill for introducing this motion. She obviously shares my deep sense of pride and respect, as do many Canadians, for the many accomplishments of the late member for Winnipeg North Centre.

From what I have read and heard, Mr. Knowles worked very hard for all Canadians. He worked particularly hard for the most vulnerable members of society.

I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Churchill for introducing this motion. It has allowed each and every one of us to look back upon the life of a great Canadian. Mr. Knowles was someone whose strength and determination helped forge a greater Canada, one that we too often take for granted.

We often forget that many of the social programs we take for granted today, such as employment insurance, old age security, the guaranteed income supplement, the minimum wage and others, were not readily available when Mr. Knowles began his long and distinguished career back in 1942.

For more than 40 years Mr. Knowles was a member of parliament who was instrumental in helping to convince the government of the day to introduce and improve many of the social programs which help Canada's most vulnerable citizens.

Mr. Knowles could understand and appreciate the struggles of everyday people. He witnessed them firsthand during the Great Depression while working as an ordained minister in the United Church, watching senior workers being displaced by younger workers during the depression without being provided with a retirement pension plan. This convinced him to work toward the elimination of injustices in the workplace.

Mr. Knowles fought for employee pension rights. He fought for better pensions for our seniors. He fought for better housing and help for the homeless.

I find it rather ironic that today we are speaking of the late Mr. Stanley Knowles. I say ironic because of Motion No. 8 which was introduced in the House today. If Stanley Knowles were here he would be appalled by what the government is doing to the fine institution of the Parliament of Canada, limiting our abilities as members of parliament to debate, to make amendments, to make changes to legislation and to truly do what we are supposed to do as parliamentarians. I am sure Mr. Knowles is spinning in his grave.

I must admit that I was a bit surprised to learn that Mr. Knowles' father came from Woods Harbour, which is just beside my riding of West Nova. Mr. Knowles' ancestors came to Nova Scotia in 1760 only five years after the deportation of the Acadians in 1755.

I am convinced that Mr. Knowles saw this as a great injustice and was perhaps even influenced by the magnitude of this tragedy. But this is only conjecture.

One thing is certain—Mr. Knowles loved to come to Nova Scotia to visit his family. Having lived in a small village the mainstay of which was fishing, Mr. Knowles certainly had a unique perspective on the differences and similarities with which the people of West Nova must cope.

I think that Mr. Knowles would be shocked if he were to see the terrible straits in which our fishery now finds itself. Like us, he would be completely dissatisfied with the way the Liberal government is ignoring the crisis in the fishery.

Mr. Knowles would be disgusted by the way the Liberal government has handled the crisis in the Atlantic fishery. Like any Canadian whose livelihood is being threatened by government inadequacy or incompetence, I am certain that Mr. Knowles would be using every possible trick in the book to focus attention on this very serious problem.

Mr. Knowles was a master of parliamentary procedure. I am certain he would have taken every possible opportunity to highlight the plight of our Atlantic fishermen. He would have recognized the correlation between the serious brain drain that is going on in this country and the Liberal government's handling of the Atlantic fishery crisis. He would recognize that this Liberal government will ultimately destroy our fishery, forcing more of our youth to head west in search of job opportunities.

According to the fisheries minister's press release which he sent out last Friday, the Atlantic fishery produces some $1.3 billion in landed values. That is nothing to sneeze at.

Like our seniors and our most disadvantaged citizens for whom Mr. Knowles fought so strenuously, I think our Atlantic fishermen deserve the same protection against a Liberal government which appears unable or unwilling to resolve the serious problems affecting the industry.

Stanley Knowles was nothing if not tenacious in his pursuit of social justice. He simply would not be deterred; not by his initial failures at the polls where he lost in the federal elections of 1935 and 1940, and then the provincial election in 1941, nor by the disintegration of his CCF party, which ultimately transformed itself into today's New Democratic Party. His message never seemed to change over the years. He continued to preach his social gospel.

I take comfort in recognizing the huge accomplishments of Mr. Knowles on behalf of all Canadians. I can see that his tenacity has paid great dividends for the citizens of Canada and I am determined to show some of the same tenacity as I continue to represent the citizens of West Nova to the very best of my ability.

I will draw attention to the serious crisis in the Atlantic fishery. I will demand that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans address the terrible conditions of our local fishing wharfs which his department is so determined to ultimately abandon as a cost-cutting measure.

A recent storm in my riding has left a number of our wharfs, including the Delaps Cove, Parkers Cove, Hampton, Port Lorne, Cottage Cove and Margaretsville in serious condition. Another storm could wipe them out leaving our fishermen to fend for themselves.

These fishermen need these wharfs for their livelihood. Their communities need these wharfs because they provide an economic boost to their local economies. They need these wharfs because they share an important cultural component with members of their own community as well as with the surrounding communities.

In speaking for our Atlantic fishermen, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of these wharfs to our communities.

Coming from a western province where agriculture is so important to the local economy, I am sure Mr. Knowles would appreciate why I have raised the serious plight of our farmers on so many occasions in the House. After three consecutive years of drought conditions, our West Nova farmers are struggling for survival, just like our western counterparts.

The government's band-aid solutions fall far short of what is needed to stabilize this vital industry. It is time that the government started looking at long term, sustainable programs that will seriously address the difficulties being experienced by our Canadian farmers.

There is no question of the tremendous accomplishments of Mr. Stanley Knowles. He has been recognized on many occasions for his commitment to the Canadian people. For example, in 1979 our leader and then prime minister, Mr. Joe Clark, appointed him ceremoniously to the Privy Council of Canada to mark his 37th anniversary in the House of Commons. In 1970 he became Chancellor of Brandon University and in 1990 was designated Chancellor Emeritus. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984. His name appears on schools and school libraries and most likely on a number of street signs.

I could go on and on. However, I am not totally convinced that we should be recognizing a great Canadian on the date of his or her birthday at the exclusion of many other great Canadians. Somehow I prefer using days on our calendar to highlight great Canadian achievements, events and organizations that otherwise may not receive the recognition they so richly deserve.

Stanley Knowles has a special place in Canadian history. I think his achievements would best be recognized through our Canadian history books.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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LIB

Mauril Bélanger

Liberal

Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Churchill on two of her initial statements, the first one being that I believe everyone in the House, regardless of partisan affiliation, will recognize that Stanley Knowles was indeed someone worthy of such consideration and was honoured by the House, as the member herself mentioned.

I will now say a few words in tribute to Mr. Knowles as well. I was fortunate enough to have been in the House for a bit of the time while he was an honorary table officer. I think it is fairly well accepted that Stanley Knowles was, first and foremost, a man of the people. He was motivated by his concern for the less fortunate, some of whom are still to this day overlooked, and the undervalued members of our society. His concern for the suffering of others was rooted, some argue, in personal suffering close to home.

I will relate an incident in 1932 when his father, 57 at the time, was laid off from his machinist's job when all employees over 55 were deemed expendable by an efficiency consultant. After many years of loyal service, the elder Mr. Knowles had no severance, no unemployment insurance, no sick benefits and no pension. One could argue that this episode in Mr. Stanley Knowles' life was a benchmark event in his life and that it helped fuel his committed drive to guarantee so many elements of life that we today take for granted.

We also pay tribute to Mr. Knowles as a parliamentarian par excellence. His exceptional presence still makes itself felt in the House from time to time, when it is a question of balancing personal conscience against public perception or expectations.

It is in this room that he has left his mark, and his accomplishments are still celebrated today.

A unique figure among Canadian parliamentarians, he had a very rare privilege bestowed on him, having been given a seat at the table, near the Chair, when he was no longer a member of parliament. In fact, to this day, he remains the first and only honorary officer of the House of Commons.

We agree on that but I wish we could have perhaps avoided some partisan shots while we paid tribute to Mr. Knowles, but that is another matter.

I also agree with the member for Churchill when she says that we do not do enough in this country to recognize, acknowledge, teach and transmit the knowledge of people such as Mr. Knowles to the younger generations. I for one share that view and hope we will find ways as we evolve as a society to do more of this. It is important to make sure that the achievements of people like Mr. Knowles are communicated to our younger people so that they can get an appreciation of the values he represented.

Although I may not agree with her, as she may suspect, on whether or not the course suggested to commemorate and pay tribute to Mr. Knowles is the appropriate one, I would put some ideas on the table as to why this may not be appropriate, without demeaning the importance of Mr. Knowles, and perhaps put forward some suggestions that she may wish to consider in another forum.

There is one concern that has been alluded to by two of the opposition parties, and that is the phenomenon of too many people being honoured. For instance, I did a very cursory check at the Library before coming here. I picked three or four dates at random and asked for information out of the current edition of Canada's Who's Who , if you will—and we take that with a grain of salt because it is only living people and it is self-subscription to a certain extent—but on June 18 there are two current parliamentarians, who happen to be in the other place, who may or may not also qualify for a so-and-so day. How do we decide that without bringing in partisanship or trying to make it an extraction of partisanship?

On November 18, another date picked at random, would one want to honour Knowlton Nash? I believe everyone knows Knowlton Nash. Someone from western Canada may wish to honour Peter Pocklington, or Margaret Atwood. They were all born on the same day but in different years. One can see the complications that could arise from that, and that is just a very cursory look at this.

Another example is March 28 where we have Marshall Cohan, a fairly well-known executive; Robert Sculley, a fairly well-known television personality; a fellow by the name of Paul David Sobey, who is fairly well known in Atlantic Canada in the business community; and we have Karen Kain.

I am just trying to give examples of the kinds of difficulties we could get ourselves into. The final example would be January 26, where we have Roger Landry.

Roger Landry has just retired as a journalist for La Presse . He was and still is a very important newsmaker in Canada.

Think of someone like Claude Ryan, who is also an important Canadian newsmaker, or Wayne Gretzky. They were all born the same day.

Understandably, it would be difficult for us to approve the concept of an individual's day. And I did not name everybody.

It is not a matter of not wanting to recognize the value and contributions of certain individuals, whether in the parliamentary or education field, in the arts, business, the media or sports.

We might want to consider other options, and we have been thinking about it. The Order of Canada was created to recognize and pay tribute to the contributions of a large number of Canadians to our society, even if they were born on the same day. Some thought was given to it in the House, in a way, on other occasions. Perhaps this suggestion should be made to the House.

It is rather delicate to ask the government to recognize a parliamentarian. One might argue that it is the role of the House, and that the House or parliament could find other ways, here or elsewhere, to recognize the contribution of a great parliamentarian.

We are not against the idea of celebrate the life of Stanley Knowles. It is the way suggested here that is inappropriate. For example, we have before us three similar measures.

There is a bill from the other place to designate a certain day as Sir John A. Macdonald Day. I think a member from the Progressive Conservative Party would like a day to be designated as Samuel de Champlain Day. Unfortunately, we are going to run out of days. There is limit.

Before designating days to honour so and so, we should find other ways of doing it. I would like to make this suggestion to my colleague opposite, despite what some other members opposite might say.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Churchill. I should advise the House that if she speaks now, she will close the debate.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the members who have spoken tonight on behalf of Stanley Knowles and his great accomplishments. I thank them for the support.

I want to clarify a couple of areas. My colleague who just preceded me indicated we could run out of days. The United States of America recognizes Washington, Lincoln, Martin Luther King and I think there may be one other politician in all their years of history and they have not run out of days so I think in Canada we are probably fairly safe. The United Kingdom has Guy Fawkes Day and maybe the other odd one. I do not think that is the real problem.

As parliamentarians we can get beyond the partisan aspect and have support for parliamentarians who have done a great job. I want to clarify it was intended that it would be parliamentarians or politicians who would be recognized. So often all that is ever recognized of politicians is any wrong that they may do. Very few people will have a good thing to say about any politician. There are very few of us who could honestly say that we hear something good about us all the time. I think we can get beyond that for parliamentarians who have done a great job such as Stanley Knowles did. There may be others as well.

There is no question there are other ways of recognition. The reason to recognize a day is that it becomes that day on the calendar. Every time a child or an adult looks at the calendar on that day, they will think of Stanley Knowles.

St. Jean Baptiste Day has been on the calendar for heaven knows how long. We do not recognize it. We did not do anything with St. Jean Baptiste Day where I grew up but we recognized it and we learned about it and we understood it as we did other holidays that get recognized. To me there is very great significance in putting the day on the calendar and officially recognizing it.

The leader of the New Democratic Party said on Stanley's passing that we have all lost a friend, one who fought with courage and vigour for equality, for social justice and the dignity of all Canadians. Stanley Knowles is a Canadian worth honouring. He should be held in high esteem in our collective memories so that we may never forget his integrity as a man and as a politician.

I was very disappointed that the motion was not made votable. I am going to take this opportunity to correct that wrong and ask if I could have unanimous consent of the House to make it a votable motion.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent of the House that the motion be votable?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Ms. Bev Desjarlais

Mr. Speaker, I hope there will be alternate ways that we can go about recognizing great parliamentarians. I certainly intend to pursue them in the future.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the item is dropped from the order paper.

It being 8 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8 p.m.)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Stanley Knowles Day
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March 2, 2000