Percy Hatfield MPP, Windsor-Tecumseh

Government of Ontario

MPP Hatfield's poet laureate bill in memory of Gord Downie passes second reading

Published on March 12, 2018

March 8, 2018  QUEEN’S PARK – Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield’s bill to establish a Poet Laureate for Ontario passed second reading in the legislature. The bill names the role after Ontario artist, musician and activist Gord Downie, the late front man of the Kingston, Ontario rock band, The Tragically Hip.

“This isn’t the first time the position of Ontario Poet Laureate has been suggested in this house,” Hatfield said. “The difference on this occasion is the timing of the bill. Canada was energized during the Tragically Hip’s final tour. As individuals, we paid more attention to Gord Downie’s words in his poems, the Hip’s award-winning songs…We came to appreciate the value that poetry brings to our culture, our history, our stories. Poetry for some had been a forgotten pleasure,” said Hatfield.

The role of Poet Laureate would promote the expression of Ontario culture and heritage through literary arts. This includes writing poetry, visiting schools, arranging poetry workshops, advising the legislative library regarding its collection of literary works, and raising the profile of Ontario poets.

“Younger generations would learn to appreciate language and the creative ways words can stir our emotions and stimulate our imaginations,” said Hatfield.

“With his poetic Canadiana lyrics, Gord Downie touched the lives of millions of people across the nation. It is fitting that we remember him by creating the position of Ontario’s Poet Laureate in his name.”

Downie had a rare form of brain cancer which prompted a final tour for the band and a summer of national bonding. Downie died at the age of 53 in October 2017.

With a unanimous vote among members of the legislature, the bill passed second reading, a major milestone towards becoming law.  The bill has now been assigned to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly for consideration:  See Committee, click here.