Mr. Speaker, I suspect that this will be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament. I hope to be able to continue after the next election, but, as Forrest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”
I will take advantage of this opportunity before I launch into my specific remarks on this bill to do a couple of things. One is to thank my colleagues, my constituents, my staff and especially my family for their support and the opportunity to serve.
I did want to make a point of paying particular tribute to my friend, the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, who is retiring. He is a champion of justice and human rights and someone who has been a great mentor to me as I have sought to engage on many of the same issues that he has been championing for years. I look forward to seeing the ways in which he will continue with these important issues in whatever role he takes on afterwards.
It has been a pleasure to work with members on all sides. I certainly wish my friends on the Liberal side well as they prepare to transition to the private sector. I do plan to campaign in their ridings and I hope they do not take it personally. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to go for a drink afterwards, and I will even bring the Solo cups.
This is the one other point that I wanted to make to honour a promise I made to a particular community. It is that I want to briefly highlight the Zoroastrian community in Canada.
The ancient Zoroastrian religion is one of the oldest religions in the world. Members of this community have been migrating to Canada for many decades, yet they still remain relatively unknown to Canadians, so I thought it would be important to acknowledge their community and their contributions.
The Zoroastrian religion is based on three key principles: good thoughts, good words and good deeds. These are principles that align with Canadian values and represent traits that all Canadians should aspire to have. These teachings were passed on by their prophet, Lord Zoroaster, and through the Zoroastrian religious text, the Avesta.
Zoroastrians believe there is one creator god. The primary symbol of Zoroastrianism is fire, which is seen as a conduit for wisdom and spiritual knowledge.
Zoroastrianism originated in what is now modern-day Iran, but because of persecution, the community had to emigrate to other parts of the world. Zoroastrians, like so many communities, have often come to Canada to escape persecution.
There are 100,000 Zoroastrians around the world and 7,000 of them reside in Canada. Zoroastrians are a peaceful and well-educated community, and we celebrate their work and their contributions.
I am speaking today on Bill C-83, which proposes to replace administrative segregation with so-called structured intervention units.
During its tenure in office, the government has put a big emphasis on the naming of things. “Foreign Affairs” became “Global Affairs”. The universal child care benefit became the Canadian child care benefit, and administrative segregation becomes structured intervention units.
When it comes to the name changes, to this bill, and to the record of the government in general, by this point in the mandate, people are asking that all-important question whenever they hear of a name change, “Where's the beef?”
As Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In other words, would administrative segregation by any other name be of the same nature?
Parenthetically, Confucius speaks in The Analects about the importance of naming things correctly. He said the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. He also said:
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.
So much of politics, so much of what we have seen here in the last four years, involves effort by government to change the names of things and to re-engineer language. It becomes increasingly difficult to have dialogue and to know the difference between justice and injustice if things are not called by their proper names.
We often bemoan political polarization and the decline of meaningful dialogue. Perhaps we should consider how this is born out of the breakdown of meaning in language, how leaders and elites so often try to name things based on political objectives exogenous to the substance of the thing, rather than simply calling a thing what it is.
The vast majority of stakeholders oppose this legislation because they see it principally as a renaming exercise as opposed to a substantive one. In practical terms, the legislation requires a person in this new form of administrative segregation to have a minimum of four hours out per day, as well as legislated meaningful human contact. This raises questions about the capacity of the government to respond in terms of providing the resources necessary to operationalize this new framework.
In our judgment, the resources are not there to do this safely and effectively, and the distinctions made are not meaningful. This raises further questions in terms of the strength of the drafting of this legislation and the planning that went into it. We also have residual questions of what constitutes meaningful contact and how that can be defined.
On that basis, and recognizing that my time is running short, I will conclude.
I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to spend so much time with members in the House. I encourage members of the government caucus to get away, enjoy the summer, go on vacation, travel and spend time in the Caribbean islands.
I will of course be working hard in my riding. In particular, I hope to spend a lot of time in the beautiful riding of Spadina—Fort York. Maybe the member and I can start an Alasdair MacIntyre discussion group. The member can share with me from his reading of Ayn Rand and I can share more with him about Alasdair MacIntyre and Aristotle.
It has been a pleasure. I wish all members the best, including yourself, Mr. Speaker. I hope to be able to come back in the next Parliament.