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Consideration of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s report on Bill S-234, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Artist Laureate), with amendments

Consideration of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s report on Bill S-234, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Artist Laureate), with amendments

Consideration of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s report on Bill S-234, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Artist Laureate), with amendments

Hon. Art Eggleton:

Thank you very much. This is Bill C-234, originally proposed by former Senator Willie Moore and then subsequently picked up and sponsored by Senator Patricia Bovey.

Bill S-234 would create the position of a parliamentary visual artist laureate by amending the Poet Laureate act. The appointment would be made through a competitive process, and selection would be made by the Speakers of both houses from a list of three names provided by a committee chaired by the Parliamentary Librarian.

Secondly, the visual artist laureate would be a two-year creative posting honouring a visual artist of national distinction, and the position would not be a full-time posting. Only an honorarium and a materials budget would be paid.

Now, the visual artist laureate would produce artistic creations or cause them to be produced and would generally promote the visual arts in Canada through Parliament by fostering knowledge, enjoyment, awareness and development of the visual arts. These are very similar purposes to the kind of role that the Poet Laureate also plays in that particular function.

The bill defines art as referring to drawings, paintings, sculptures, print making design, crafts, photography, videography and filmmaking.

Our committee did adopt some minor or technical amendments. The first was to insert the word “visual” in front of “artist,” because it was originally proposed as the parliamentary artist laureate, but the intention of the original and current sponsor was make it visual arts as opposed to, say, musicians. Maybe that’s another position to be considered at a later time. So wherever the word “artist” appears, the word “visual” will now be in front of it, according to the amendment.

The other amendment is with respect to the selection process, and as I said, it would come under the jurisdiction of the Speakers of both houses and the function of the Parliamentary Librarian. They would be consulting with organizations that include the Director of the National Gallery of Canada, the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada, the Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts and the President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. The meeting of this committee would be chaired by the Parliamentary Librarian.

We added in another minor amendment and put in the words “or their designates.” It may be that the heads of these organizations are not always available, and perhaps they will send a representative in their place.

With these amendments, the bill has based passed unanimously, all sections of this chamber in the committee supporting it, and that just leaves me to thank the former Senator Willie Moore and the current Senator Patricia Bovey for their sponsor