Senate Page Program

Honourable senators, I stand today to praise the pages of the Senate. I feel it is important to tell Canadians just how special these young men and women are. They come from every corner of this country — Victoria; Iqaluit; Beresford, New Brunswick; Rimouski, Quebec — and are true ambassadors of their provinces and territories. What is more, they are full-time university students in Ottawa and, at a minimum, work 500 hours a year in the Senate. Their work is more than just getting us a glass of water. There are files, bills, journals, orders and debates to follow. They are front row participants in the legislative process and in our committee studies.

How many times have we seen a page compliment our work in their university studies? I was interviewed by one page recently who was doing a paper on autism, and that pleased me very much. I am sure that many senators have had the same experience.

They know how to give back. Just yesterday, five pages from the Senate Page Program sang at the Memorial Service for Former Parliamentarians. That is a good thing, but it does not end there. These pages are also involved in charitable work. The Terry Fox Run is one example which occurs annually. They are constantly volunteering. Speaking on behalf of Senators Cochrane and Mercer, I can tell honourable senators how much we appreciate what the pages do for our National Child Day program in November.

Yes, there was an incident that occurred on Friday during the Speech from the Throne. That was unfortunate. However, I would not want one incident to reflect on the dedication of these young pages.

This is my eighth year in the Senate, and what I have seen is a diverse, dedicated and determined group of young Canadians engaged in the democratic process. Some pages like it so much here that they have ended up working for senators. Christian Dicks is working in my office and Chris Reed is working in Senator Comeau’s office — one Liberal, one Conservative at a time.

To the pages: This is only one step on your life’s journey. I know I speak on behalf of all senators in telling you that you have our support.

As for the Senate of Canada, this is an institution where there is plenty of room for debate — not to demonstrate, but to debate the issues of the day. The pages play important roles both inside and outside this chamber.

I believe I am reflecting the feelings of all senators when I say to the pages that we value your presence, we value your work and we value your friendship. Thank you.