Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments on Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate)

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Chateau Laurier, Ottawa

Hon. Andrew Cardozo moved:

That, in relation to Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate), the Senate agree to the amendments made by the House of Commons; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house accordingly.

He said: Honourable senators, I wish to speak to the motion proposing that the Senate accept the two amendments made to Bill S-202 in the other place. I have a couple of words on Bill S-202: This act will create the parliamentary visual artist laureate. It was first introduced in the Forty-second Parliament by Senator Wilfred Moore. The version we are now amending was originally introduced by Senator Patricia Bovey. It is with pride that I am here to pick up where Senator Bovey and Senator Moore left off, and to help this bill through its final parliamentary stage. The objective of Bill S-202 is to create the parliamentary visual artist laureate as an officer of the Library of Parliament. This position would be complementary to the already existing Parliamentary Poet Laureate and would use the same model.

The artist laureate will serve a two-year term and will have a broad mandate to promote the arts in Canada through Parliament, including by fostering enjoyment, awareness and development of the arts.

As you may be aware, colleagues, I am a keen advocate of the arts and, indeed, an artist myself, so I am delighted to speak to this bill.

Public advocacy of the arts in Canada goes back to the Massey Commission which reported in 1951 and included its recommendation to establish the Canada Council of the Arts. That report set out the premise that arts are no tangential matter extraneous to the proper business of state. If I can paraphrase, it is through the arts that communities communicate their self-understanding to future generations. That which can, at first glance, appear to be frivolous to our daily lives and difficulties may well be the thing that endures, which may give a community its power to survive.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the artist laureate will produce and hope that, in time, the works of the parliamentary artist laureate will rank among those of Emily Carr, Stan Douglas, Lawren Harris, Kent Monkman, William Kurelek and Jean Paul Riopelle as visual artists of the character and identity of this nation that will reverberate for years to come.

This bill has been returned to us from the other place with two amendments that we vote upon today — or soon — which, I am happy to say, have improved the bill.

One amendment is from the Conservative Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, Marilyn Gladu. It further clarifies that, in these modern times, a new art form of digital creation must be considered the artistic equal of other traditional forms of art.

The other amendment deals with the language of the parliamentary artist. Although art is a language all of its own, it is right and reasonable that both official language communities of this country receive due opportunity to express themselves through the platform Parliament can provide. So I welcome the amendment that the primary official language spoken by the holder shall alternate. This reflects the practice already in place for the poet laureate.

In closing, let me say that I am excited to see what the future parliamentary visual artist laureates may do with this position.

Honourable senators, I urge you to join me in supporting these two amendments, as you so graciously supported the previous version of this bill. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Would Senator Cardozo take a question?

Senator Cardozo: Sure.

Senator Housakos: Senator Cardozo, thank you for the remarks and for the bill, I guess. Can you explain the process to the chamber? What will be the process for the nomination and selection? I assume it would be the Governor General, but maybe you can give us a bit of background on how the process will wheel out.

Senator Cardozo: Thank you, senator. My understanding is that in the past, this was designed to follow the process used for the poet laureate. The process is that people would make applications to the Library of Parliament. It is the Library of Parliament that would make the selection to ensure that there are the various kinds of diversities — certainly the regional diversity — that is sought for this position.

Senator Housakos: I assume, senator, that the nominations would be open for anyone to nominate anyone? Could they nominate themselves? Would parliamentarians be able to send the names of nominees to the committee or to the Library of Parliament?

Senator Cardozo: I understand that is the case. The idea is to make it an office that is open to all Canadians.


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