National Child Day


I want to thank Ken Dryden for doing something he was never professionally trained to do…. That is skillfully stickhandle his way through a speech on this very special day…… National Child Day.


We all look forward to the day when the Minister announces the government’s National Child Care strategy.


But as the Minister emphasized, this day belongs to Canada’s children and the children of the world.


We have an obligation as a society to care, nurture and defend the rights of our children.


As a reporter, the stories which really meant a lot to me were the stories I covered about children and their rights.


Whether it was the orphans in Phnom Pen in Cambodia, the children of the Innu community of what was called Davis Inlet, or the young people who lost their youth center in Whitney Pier, Nova Scotia and later through their voices had it reopen……. These are the stories that matter to me.


These were the stories that made a difference in my life  ….  And that is what all our lives should be about…. Making a difference ….. At least trying to make a difference.


When I think of the rights of the child, I think of the rights of Innu.


When I think of the rights of the child, I think of those young people in Whitney Pier.


When I think of the rights of the child, I think of the severely disabled children at the Ottawa treatment centre and the heroes who care for them.


When I think of the rights of the child, I think of autistic children and their parents and what more we must do as governments to help.


C’est le temps de célébrer l’enfant et la famille! C’est le temps de célébrer l’enfant et sa richesse! C’est le temps de penser à ce que nous pouvons faire pour affecter à chaque jour le développement des enfants. Aujourd’hui, j’invite tout le monde à reconnaître le potentiel de l’enfant et à participer à ce développement.


The Minister and everyone in this room recognizes the need that more must be done.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines responsibilities of governments, families and caregivers.


As pointed out by the Canadian Children’s Rights Council… All children and youth have inherent rights to access those basic things that are necessary to live and grow with dignity as human beings.


For example, children have rights to a supportive family, to provision of adequate food, clothes, housing and education, to protection from all forms of harm.


In closing, I want to single out a person by the name of Pearson who unfortunately couldn’t be with us today.  Senator Landon Pearson has been the inspiration, the driving force, in building a Canada fit for children. A Canada where children’s rights must be respected, a Canada where we must fight child poverty and discrimination.  A Canada where more money must be spent on the child.


Senator Pearson will retire from the Senate next year.  As Senators, both Terry Mercer and I are Landon Pearson’s disciples.  We will not let her down.  All we can do is to try and make a difference.


Again thank you Minister….. And now let’s get on with the show in the Senate.