Who gets to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel - Macleans.ca

Who gets to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel

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In November, Elizabeth May was twice denied the House’s consent to mark Remembrance Day. This afternoon she was apparently denied an opportunity to join the Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals in honouring Vaclav Havel. Justin Trudeau is unimpressed.

Conservatives just refused to let party leader @ElizabethMay rise to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel. He was a champion of free speech. #irony

Update 5:23pm. Here is the video (such as it is) of the incident. Citing an anonymous MP, Ms. May says Government House leader Peter Van Loan was one of those who spoke up to deny her consent. I emailed Mr. Van Loan’s office to ask if he had indeed spoken up. In response, I received only a copy of text of the standing order that applies in such situations. I restated my original question and will update this post if or when I hear back.

Update 7:03pm. Still waiting to hear back from Mr. Van Loan’s office. In the meantime, here is the statement Ms. May says she would have delivered.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

And thank you to those who have just spoken to the spirit and inspiration or an extraordinary human being. I was particularly moved by the words of my friend, the Hon. Member from Toronto Centre.  Václav Havel’s life was of the order of Nelson Mandela, or Aung San Suu Kyi.  His genius as a playwright and poet put him also in the company of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was murdered by the Abacha regime in Nigeria. Totalitarian regimes dislike the free speech of satirists and poets.

It was a nearly miraculous change of fate that both Mandela and Havel overthrew the oppression of earlier governments to become presidents.

It is the nature of a poet, a creative genius like Havel, to refuse to accept the world as he found it.  An unlikely politician, Havel never lost sight of his complex humanity.

I wish to share his own words with you and ask that we seek to emulate them:

“Let us teach ourselves that politics cannot just be the art of the possible, especially if that means the art of speculation, calculation, intrigue, secret deals and pragmaticmaneuvering, but that it can even be the art of the impossible, namely the art of improving ourselves and the world.”

Let light perpetual shine upon him and let us live inspired by his example.