Girl Guides of Canada Bill

Excerpt from Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Girl Guides of Canada Bill

Private Bill—Third Reading

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, today I rise in support of Bill S-1001, An Act respecting Girl Guides of Canada. This is fairly straightforward legislation, and I don’t intend to use too much time here, but it’s worth reinforcing what a phenomenal and important program Girl Guides of Canada is and will continue to be.

In my early days as a senator, while sitting at the far end of the chamber in Centre Block, I recall Senator Jaffer rising to speak to a prior iteration of this bill as the sponsor. Frankly, I was shocked to hear a bill about Girl Guides being introduced in the Senate. I did not know that we needed a special act and why it could not be part of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. I was very curious but listened closely to the words — and the passion behind the words — of Senator Jaffer.

As I listened, my memories of Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders flooded in from my past. I know that the Girl Guides of Canada has touched many here in the Senate and, in fact, is part of the narrative of many leaders in the Senate today.

As a very young girl, I used to watch with envy on Lady Baden-Powell Day, a day when Brownies and Guides wore their beautiful uniforms to school for the whole day. As a family, we did not have much money for a new uniform, so my mother said, “If you can find a used uniform, you can go to Brownies.” Well, I got my hands on one, and I held her to that promise and was thrilled to become a Brownie and a Girl Guide when the opportunity came.

Our family life was challenging, but for a few hours each week, I knew I could join other girls, make new friends, learn new skills and earn those infamous badges that I would sew on my uniform with such great joy and pride. I will never forget as a 10-year-old — those of you in Toronto can appreciate this — getting on a train and a subway for a few hours on my own to go to the Girl Guides head office and store on Merton Street, just off Yonge Street, in downtown Toronto. I had saved enough money to buy a new Girl Guides whistle and money pouch. I thought I had won the Girl Guides lottery.

Like so many, the experience of Guiding began our path of leadership. Working together, listening, planning, finding common ground, taking risks, speaking in public and setting goals were all part of this path. To see today that the Guiding movement celebrates equity and inclusion on a global scale makes this movement so relevant in 2020.

Today I would like to share how COVID-19 has impacted the Girl Guides of Canada. As you know, Girl Guide cookies are an annual reminder of the 110-year history of this organization. Cookie sales are the opportunity to generate funds to continue activities and programming and empower young girls to discover who they are and what they want to be. By the way, I was the vanilla cookie girl.

This past March, carton after carton of Girl Guide cookies were delivered to home garages all over Canada. I remember that on March 18 I saw a friend with her garage full of cookie cartons, floor to ceiling. The pandemic lockdown was under way, and the loss of millions of dollars in cookies was a real risk.

Thankfully, moving and storage company AMJ Campbell, a Canadian company established in 1934, under the leadership of Doug Jasper and Charlotte Truter, shifted their business and were generous beyond all means. AMJ picked up all those cartons of cookies and delivered them to grocery stores to be sold over the spring and summer months.

Yesterday, I saw a box in Loblaws a block from here. They are still there, ladies and gentlemen.

This made the difference for the Girl Guides of Canada. This move to respond has allowed the Girl Guides of Canada to meet the programming needs of girls and their families from coast to coast to coast. The Girl Guides of Canada CEO Jill Zelmanovits and Chair of the Board Robyn McDonald have said that AMJ Campbell’s kindness has allowed the Girl Guides of Canada to virtually deliver activities while social distancing remains in place.

Our Sparks, our Brownies and our Girl Guides returned to programming in September. As they said, across the country there is a 5-year-old Spark making her first recipe, a 10-year-old Girl Guide who will once again camp under the stars and a 15‑year-old Ranger who will continue to design improvements for her community.

We know that a strong future for our country and our community depends on the girls continuing to grow confidently, dream big and strive for a better world. Thank you, AMJ Campbell, for keeping these dreams alive.

Today, honourable senators, quickly, let’s do our part and respond to the request of the Girl Guides of Canada to get this bill passed to ensure its roles and procedures as a modern organization are accurately reflected in their governing charter. Thank you. Meegwetch.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

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