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STATEMENT - First World War - Joint Parliamentary Symposia in Canada and France

 

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, you will find on your desk today a special leaflet, in both official languages, about a very unique initiative that will take place in this chamber next week, on November 11 and 12, under the presidency of our distinguished Speaker Senator Kinsella and His Excellency the Ambassador of France to Canada, Mr. Philippe Zeller.

This initiative is special in that, among all the parliaments of the allied countries that took part in the First World War, Canada's parliament is the only parliament that will organize with our friendly parliamentarians from France a joint seminar on the theme of Canada and France during the First World War, 1914-1915, zeroing in on the transformative impacts that the war had on Canada and on France. Among the transformative impacts that that war had was the one on the Parliament of Canada. The Parliament of Canada came out of the war transformed.

Twenty historians will be invited, drawn from Canada and France, 10 of them Canadian and 10 of them French, and each will be invited to address one specific aspect of the transformation that Canada underwent through the war.

Fortunately, we will also have a symposium in Paris, France, at the National Assembly next spring in 2015, with a complementary approach to the one that will take place here next week.

Honourable senators, you are all invited to attend the public opening that will take place next Tuesday afternoon, November 11.

The seminar will have a special significance because it will be accompanied by the publication of a book next spring that will put together all the contributions with the perspective of a complementary approach to our way of seeing the war 100 years later. That seminar will take place under the auspices of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association and the Association interparlementaire France-Canada.

[Translation]

The Minister of Veterans Affairs supports this initiative.

[English]

The Honourable Julian Fantino will be addressing the opening of the seminar next week. As I mentioned, in France, it will be under the auspices of the President of the National Assembly, Mr. Claude Bartolone and the Ambassador of Canada to France, Mr. Lawrence Cannon, who was in Parliament yesterday.

I am very indebted to the Honourable Speaker for having included that initiative in his presentation and thanks expressed to the President of France yesterday, because it highlights that this seminar has been recognized by the French government as being an official commemorative initiative, subsidized by the French government, for the French part of it, and as an official initiative of the joint parliaments.

Let me remind you, honourable senators, that the British, the Americans, the Australians and the New Zealanders, with whom we fought during the war, have not taken the initiative to join the French and Canadian parliaments to look together at how that war has impacted our way of living. As I mentioned, it impacted even our way of conducting business in Parliament.

I'm sure that honourable senators will want to read that presentation once it has been made public and available in printed form. I think it is one of our characteristics in this chamber that we like to bring sober second thought on issues. After 100 years, to have that sober second thought — especially after having listened to Senator Marshall about the impact that the war had on women — there is a specific theme to this.

As honourable senators know, and I don't want to go through all the details of it, women in Canada got the right to vote during the war. That was an immediate change that changed, in fact, the electorate and the participation of the Canadian electorate in the war. Politicians had to adjust their speeches and their preoccupations to women's preoccupations to be able to address that segment of the electorate.

There are all kinds of aspects that will be raised in that seminar and, again, honourable senators, if you are not in Ottawa, you could send your assistants or members of your entourage. It's open to the public, of course, with the usual measures of security that you all know. It would be better to register and there is a place to register mentioned in the leaflet.

Again, honourable senators, I thank you for your attention, and I am most indebted to our Speaker because he was the first one to accept this initiative. I think that with his endorsement, we were able to rally all the other ones. I want to underline that because, without the Speaker's concurrence, this outstanding initiative would not take place. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.