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Statement - Symposium on the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of Canadian Confederation

Compilation of Conference Proceedings

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, today is a very special day, since later this afternoon we will be celebrating the conclusion of initiatives taken by the Senate to mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation and, by extension, the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate, which took place on November 6, 1867.



As many of you will recall, a symposium to commemorate the Senate’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary was held in our chamber two years ago on May 25 and 26, 2017, where 24 learned and distinguished Canadians spoke with the authority of their respective fields of experience, with plans to eventually publish the texts in book form of all lectures we heard on that occasion. That day has finally come.

The Speaker has sent to each senator an invitation to participate in the launch of the book, which will be held at the end of our afternoon session today.

The book, which I hold in my hand, was published by McGill Queen’s University Press. It is a stunning and reputable book, published in each of the official languages. It is over 500 pages long and contains more than 100 illustrations and covers 10 different themes relating to what characterizes Canadian society. The book will also surely serve as a solid reference volume to be used in university classrooms.

The Senate marked its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary with this initiative, one designed to reflect on important policy issues, given that the Senate is the chamber of Parliament particularly well suited to fill the need of building institutional memory and as a chamber of sober second thought on national public questions confronting our country.

This initiative got the support of the Internal Economy Committee, chaired at the time by Senator Leo Housakos, whom I thank personally very much, and all of the members of the committee at that time.

Among the speakers who participated in the book, I want to list a number of them: Phil Fontaine; Paul Heinbecker; Beverley McLachlin; Bob Rae; Jean Charest; Gary Doer; Kim Campbell; David Suzuki; Nathan Obed; astrophysicist Hubert Reeves; philanthropist Pierre Lassonde; David Dodge — and I look at my friend Senator Smith — former Governor of the Bank of Canada; Professor David Smith, well-known on Senate issues; and Professor David Docherty. These speakers offered a variety of reflections and perspectives on Canada’s recent history and what lies ahead for the country’s future.

Each senator attending the launch today will be offered a complimentary copy of the book, either in English or in French. Senator Judith Seidman and I were co-editors of the book — thank you, senator — and I authored 10 different essays opening each chapter. Senator Cormier also participated in the book.

You are all warmly welcome to pick up a complimentary copy of your book at the end of the afternoon. Thank you.