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A gift from the Parliamentary Poet Laureate
December 15, 2016

A gift from the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, commissioned by Senator Harder

On the last sitting day of the Senate in 2016, Government Representative (Leader of the Government) Senator Peter Harder recited a poem for his Senate colleagues in the Chamber dedicated to the memory of the late Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin.


Senator Peter Harder

"Percy Bysshe Shelley once said that ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ To find the truth in this statement, I encourage all Canadians to read and enjoy the poem by Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke, The Senate of Canada: An Update-in-Progress.”

Senator Peter Harder



 The Senate of Canada:  An Update-in-Progress

In memory of Pierre Claude Nolin (1950-2015), Senate Reform advocate

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.

George Elliot Clarke 

-- George Elliott Clarke

Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-2017)