Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Sarmite Bulte Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Canadian Library Week/Semaine nationale des bibliotheques which runs from October 17 to October 24, 2005.
Canadian Library Week highlights the many roles a library plays in our communities. Libraries offer services that promote literacy, access to information, innovation and productivity among our community members.
This year's theme is “Lifelong Libraries -- Discover Us”. It focuses on the lifelong contribution that libraries make to the everyday lives of community members. Libraries provide a broad range of information, regardless of one's age, religion, social status, race, gender or language. They also maintain the history and culture of our communities and our nation.
Libraries will be holding events across the country to raise awareness of the services they offer to the public. I stand today to encourage all my colleagues and all Canadians to discover their local library.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the board of management, staff, volunteers and everyone in the historic village of Swansea on the official opening of the Founders Room in the Swansea Town Hall. The official opening took place on September 17. I was proud to be in attendance.
The Swansea Town Hall was formerly the municipal building for the village of Swansea, which was amalgamated into Toronto in 1966. It now serves as a real community centre, housing the Swansea Memorial Library and various meeting rooms for its many recreational and educational activities.
The Founders Room is its most recent addition and is named for the many residents who over the years worked to ensure that the building was kept open and maintained. With this new addition, the people who played such a key part in its preservation are well remembered. I offer my own tribute to them and to the ongoing vitality of the community and residents of Swansea.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice to the many Canadians who deplore the lengthy lockout that has deprived them of their cherished CBC radio and television programs.
I have heard loud and clear that my constituents want this lockout settled.
I too miss my favourites such as Metro Morning, Cross Country Checkup, As it Happens, The National and of course, politics and the House.
At a time like this it is also instructive to appreciate the importance of the CBC and why it fills such a critical need in our country's culture. It is a lifeline enabling our cultural stories and ideas to be conveyed from coast to coast to coast.
I call upon the CBC management and the guild to reach an agreement and quickly resume the services that Canadians so greatly miss.
This lockout is not just another labour dispute. It is about an essential service that Canadians want and need.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House of the notable success recently achieved by Screen Door, a film production company run by two of my constituents, Mary Young Leckie and Heather Haldane.
Screen Door, formerly known as Tapestry Pictures, won the Sprockets Audience Choice Award at the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children with its film Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story. The movie depicts the courageous campaign of Simon Jackson, a teenage boy from Vancouver, who embarks on a mission to save a rare white kermode bear known as Spirit Bear.
Spirit Bear was the only Canadian film to win an award at this year's festival. It is the first Canadian film to win an audience choice award.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mary and Heather on their achievements and salute them for their contribution to Canadian culture by telling our stories.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of the passing of one of my constituents, Don Jennison. Don was a committed activist for many causes both in my riding in the city of Toronto and across the country.
I first met Don in his role as a founding member of world 19, a community group that grew out of the campaign against the rushed amalgamation of the city of Toronto. Throughout the years, I had several meetings with world 19 and Don was always one of its most committed and passionate spokespeople. His concerns covered a broad spectrum of issues, from neighbourhood development to maintaining a fully public health care system.
I always found Don to be a challenging, well-informed and dedicated advocate for the causes in which he believed. This concept of public service from a private citizen is commendable. In this sense Don Jennison serves as an exemplar of the public spiritedness to which we should all aspire.
I wish to offer my sincere condolences to Don's family, his friends and his community. His passing leaves many lives emptier and diminishes the quality of our public discourse.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Polish-Canadian constituents in my riding of Parkdale—High Park, who on May 3 celebrated the Polish constitution of 1791, the oldest written constitution in Europe and the second oldest in the world. That event unites Polish communities throughout Canada and the world in their proud tradition of defending democracy and civil freedoms, not only in their home country but also in their adopted countries.
May 3 was a day to reflect upon and celebrate the heritage and ideals of humanitarianism, tolerance and democracy. The constitution of May 3, 1791 was the instrument that gave rise to parliamentary supremacy. It also gave Polish citizens new-found access to parliament. Constitution Day is a proud heritage for Canadians of Polish descent and a confirmation of the basic values and freedoms of our own society.
I am proud to offer my best wishes for this very memorable anniversary.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the massacre of about 20,000 Polish officers, prisoners of war and civilians by the Soviet authorities in the forest of Katyn in the spring of 1940.
Last Sunday I participated in the annual commemorative ceremony at the Katyn Monument in my riding, together with members of the Polish Canadian Congress and veteran and youth organizations.
It took almost 50 years for Mikhail Gorbachev to admit that the massacre in the Katyn forest was the work of the Stalin regime. However, in March 2005, Russian authorities ended a decade-long investigation into the massacre, but declared that it was not a genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity. Consequently, on March 22 the Polish parliament unanimously passed an act requesting the Russian archives to be declassified and requesting Russia to classify the Katyn massacre as genocide.
To this day, the Katyn massacre remains an open chapter in the history of the Polish community in Canada and a stumbling block on the path of building international relationships, trust and transparency.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today is International Women's Day, the highlight of International Women's Week which started on Sunday, March 6 and runs to Saturday, March 12.
This year, Canada's theme for International Women's Week is “You are here: Women, Canada and the World”.
To commemorate International Women's Day, on Friday, March 4, I hosted my seventh annual breakfast in my riding to acknowledge the accomplishments of the women of Parkdale--High Park. The event celebrated the success of local women, including Kelly Thornton, an award winning theatre director; Stephanie Gibson, an author and history teacher; Heidi Suter, a lawyer; Nathalie Bonjour, an artistic producer; and Anita O'Connor, a founding member of the Parkdale Golden Age Foundation and its current executive director.
International Women's Day is an ideal opportunity to reflect on the progress made to advance women's equality, to assess the challenges facing women in contemporary society, to consider future steps to enhance the status of women and, of course, to celebrate the gains made in these areas, as well as an opportunity to honour all women in our communities.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians of Estonian heritage celebrated the 87th anniversary of the declaration of the independence of Estonia.
On February 24, 1918, the Salvation Committee declared the independence of the Republic of Estonia. This date was celebrated as the date of independence until the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940. However, during the Soviet occupation, Independence Day continued to be celebrated in Estonian communities around the world, including those in Canada.
This is an important day for all Estonians. Even during the days of Soviet occupation, Estonians around the world openly celebrated this day in hopes that once again Estonia would be a sovereign state.
Since the restoration of independence on August 20, 1991, Independence Day continues to be a day of celebration and a day of reflection for the Estonian people.
I would like to offer my congratulations to the people of Estonia and Canadians of Estonian descent on this momentous occasion. Elagu eesti.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we learned of the death of former journalist and founder of the Stratford Festival, Tom Patterson, on February 23, 2005, at the age of 84.
The Stratford Festival owes its existence to the dream of this local journalist who founded the event in the 1950s.
Innumerable artists, directors and other Canadian and foreign theatre professionals have participated in its productions, enlarging the audience for the work of William Shakespeare.
Alex Guinness and Christopher Plummer are among the most notable actors who have played on the Stratford Festival's stage.
Mr. Patterson has left us the legacy of the Stratford Festival. “Without Tom Patterson, there would not be a Stratford Festival in Canada”, underscored its artistic director, Richard Monette, while highlighting the extraordinary vision of this man.
Mr. Patterson was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1967.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to express our appreciation and offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, February 16 is, and always will be, a significant and meaningful date for Lithuanians. On Wednesday, the people of Lithuania and Lithuanian Canadians gathered to celebrate the independence of the land of their heritage.
This year marked the 87th anniversary of the independence of Lithuania. It is on this day in 1918 that Lithuania declared its independence from Russia and once again redeclared its sovereignty in 1990.
After World War I this small nation achieved freedom and proclaimed itself the Lithuanian Republic. On February 16, 1918 the founders of this great nation asserted their country's independence and commitment to a government based on justice, democracy and the rights of the individual. For decades, Lithuanians have been commemorating this event, during Lithuania's independence, oppression and subsequent independence.
I would like to offer my congratulations to the people of Lithuania on this momentous occasion.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today is National Flag of Canada Day.
Forty years ago many of us were gathered in schoolyards around this time, proud witnesses to one of the great events in Canadian history. It was a cool day in many parts of the land and downright freezing cold in others. Yet there was a warmth in our hearts as we listened to a story unfold about a distinctive symbol, one that would soon become recognized and revered the world over.
In 1964 a Senate and House of Commons committee was formed. It called for submissions and received hundreds of designs and patterns. Hundreds of speeches were made in Parliament. Parliamentarians and other eminent Canadians had but one shared goal, to find a family symbol for the people of Canada that painted a portrait of justice, peace and equality for all humankind.
That goal has been reached. Whether we work to build our nation here at home or reach out to help a foreign nation in need, the flag of Canada waves a signal that harmony will prevail.
Let us look up to our flag with affection and pride. Its threads are woven tightly to create one seamless community from sea to sea to sea.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, last night I attended the second annual Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in Toronto, at which seven songwriters and twenty-two remarkable songs were inducted.
In addition, I had the opportunity to take part in the induction of our national anthem, O Canada, into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1980, O Canada was officially proclaimed our national anthem, but even then it is a song with a history. It had been composed 100 years earlier, in 1880, by Calixa Lavallée, with lyrics by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song caught on, gained popularity and several English versions were produced.
In 1908, Robert Stanley Weir wrote the version on which today's anthem is based. The stirring melody and patriotic lyrics in both official languages still resound with all Canadians who, “with glowing hearts...stand on guard” for this great country.
I want to commend the Songwriters Hall of Fame for its recognition of our national anthem, O Canada.
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Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, in December 1995 the Parliament of Canada passed a motion officially designating February as Black History Month. This motion was an important milestone because it finally acknowledged the rich and often overlooked history of Black Canadians.
Every day, Black Canadians are working in all communities to make Canada a great place to live. Their contribution to society is vital to Canada's economic and cultural life.
During February, I invite hon. members and all Canadians to listen to a story, join in on an activity, read a book or check the Internet to find more information on the history of Black Canadians. There are many good websites, including the Canadian Heritage site. Above all, we should not hesitate to share what we learn with our children, friends and acquaintances.
We have so much to learn from each other as we work together to build a better Canada.
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Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, last week the Supreme Court ruled that the draft legislation referred to it by the Government of Canada upholds the right of same sex couples to civil marriage. As a result, the government can either move ahead with legislation to codify civil marriage for same sex couples or use the notwithstanding clause to take away this right.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a pillar of Canadian society. The rights protected under the charter are the same rights that protect churches, synagogues, mosques and temples from being obliged to perform marriage ceremonies that are contrary to their beliefs. This is not about religion. It is about equality.
The Prime Minister has stated that he will not use the notwithstanding clause to deny rights guaranteed by the charter. I am proud to say that I will be voting with the government and the Prime Minister to acknowledge same sex civil marriage.
We all have a choice. We can either uphold the charter because we believe in it, or we can abandon it. Parliamentarians must now make that choice.
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