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Felicitations

Honourable senators, I will be brief. But I do want to say a few words of thanks to all senators for what we have accomplished collectively over the past, yes, 12 weeks in terms of this fall sitting. Not only have we welcomed 21 new senators from seven provinces, but we have also, thanks to cooperation on all sides, given expression to that arrival through readjusting membership on committees, and as of today, reflecting in specific appointments to the committees' membership in this chamber.

We have also, as a result of Royal Assent today, passed in this period of 12 weeks 6 government bills, and we advanced significant legislation from the government's perspective.

I would pay tribute to the work that has been done by standing committees on their inquiries on a variety of subjects. I won't enumerate them, but you know the good work that has been done, as well as the Senate public bills that have advanced, including the bill that advanced today.

So I do want to emphasize to all senators my appreciation for the cooperation and the progress this institution has made in these short weeks. I look forward to the return of the institution as we take up the work before us, such as in committees, as we anticipate bills that are before us and that will be arriving. The spirit in which we are closing this year is I hope a spirit in which we can reopen on January 31, 2017.

Honourable senators, the great poet Shelley said that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. In that spirit a few months ago, I asked Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliot Clarke, to write for us a few verses encapsulating the Senate's essence and potential. He obliged us with a wonderful composition that I would like to read. Before I do that, I would like to acknowledge —

I would like to point out that Mr. Clarke dedicated his poem to the memory of Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who fought for Senate reform. He also called on his collaborator, Robert Paquin, to translate the poem into French, though it is more of an interpretation. Tonight, I will honour the integrity of his work by reading the English poem in its entirety.

With your indulgence, I will speak to this poem, which is entitled The Senate of Canada: An Update-in-Progress.

Whatever is Tradition
Is impervious to Fashion
But yet can evolve-
Via Reflection and Resolve;
Thus, to upkeep The Senate
"The Red Chamber," demands we update
Law- making, so law lives vivid
(And scarlet defines the Chamber's red). . ..
For primary is "second thought"-
Preserving precious freedoms bought
Through battles, cataclysms, wars
And upholding rights with righteous Force
And insight grant through oversight
So flaws in law get brought to light
And whatever the House of Commons votes-
Is reviewed, revised, to clear all doubts:
But not as acts of Interference;
The Senate's probity is forbearance
Yet ensuring that elected Government
Enacts no law perverting Parliament
And probe bills with recherché Analysis
So legislated Good escapes paralysis
And to render transparent Omnibus
Bills (for what's opaque looks ominous)
And heed the needs of the regions
And prosper the labouring legions
Of minorities, and uplift Indigenous
Peoples: Here is The Senate's purpose!
Invention is craft; Improvement is art:
Honourable Senators, act this part.
"Sober second thought" isn't partisan
But, constitutionally, what is Canadian.

When we rise, I would invite you to my office for refreshments.