Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Prime Ministers Gather in Commons to Mark Parliament's 150th Anniversary

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Prime Ministers Gather in Commons to Mark Parliament's 150th Anniversary

Article excerpt

Ex-PMs, current MPs mark Parliament's 150th

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OTTAWA - Moments from Canada's colourful -- and sometimes dark -- past came back into focus Monday as federal politicians and former prime ministers of all partisan stripes gathered in the House of Commons to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada's first Parliament.

House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan encouraged current members of Parliament to imagine what it was like on Nov. 6, 1867, when the country's first lawmakers gathered in Ottawa.

"Imagine the enormity of the task before these first parliamentarians ... facing the monumental challenge of governing a vast and sprawling country still in its infancy," Regan told the Commons.

"Any democracy worthy of its name is always a work in progress, and it is our duty as parliamentarians to build on the foundations laid by those first members of Parliament who established the country that it is our privilege to serve."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded former and current parliamentarians of several noted events since that time -- both good and bad -- that have shaped Canada into what it is today.

"Within these walls, Canada has been reborn countless times," Trudeau said as he recalled how previous governments made strides in human rights, introduced universal health care, abolished the death penalty and gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

The prime minister also acknowledged some "dark and shameful moments" in Canada's history, such as the introduction of the residential schools program that aimed to assimilate Canada's Indigenous Peoples.

"Let us be women and men of principle and of humility, for we have been bestowed the responsibility to serve and we must do so honourably," Trudeau said. …

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