Bill 186, which seeks to create an Ontario poet laureate position in memory of Gord Downie, is up for second reading in the Ontario Legislature today.
This private members’ bill proposed by NDPer Percy Hatfield, officially called Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie) was introduced back in December.
The idea would be to create the position of an official Ontario poet who would write, assist in workshops, visit schools, work with the legislative library, promote art and literacy throughout the province, and perform other duties around poetry and writing.
Percy was inspired by Gord’s work on and off the stage. From the CBC:
It’s fitting that we remember him by creating the position of Ontario’s poet laureate in his name. Downie viewed Canada through a distinctly poetic lens, and I believe this is a beautiful way to honour him, and to continue his legacy.
Here’s the official language of the bill:
(1) The Poet Laureate of Ontario shall,
(a) promote art and literacy in Ontario;
(b) celebrate Ontario and its people;
(c) raise the profile of Ontario poets;
(d) raise public awareness of poetry and of the spoken word;
(e) act as a spokesperson for literature in general and poetry in particular; and
(f) provide a focal point for the expression of Ontario culture and heritage through the literary arts.
(2) In carrying out the responsibilities set out in subsection (1), the Poet Laureate of Ontario shall undertake activities including, but not limited to,
(a) writing poetry, occasionally for use in the Legislature if called upon by the Speaker or the Lieutenant Governor;
(b) visiting schools, presenting or arranging poetry readings and assisting with writing workshops or other activities;
(c) advising the Legislative Library regarding the collection of the Library and acquisitions that may enrich its cultural holdings; and
(d) performing such other duties as may be requested by the Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor or the Legislative Library in relation to this Act.
There’s no salary outlined in the bill except for this: “The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport may pay an honorarium to the Poet Laureate of Ontario.”