PEI

Conceiving a nation: Committee approves bill recognizing Charlottetown as birthplace of Confederation

A Senate committee has approved a private member's bill recognizing Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.

Senator Diane Griffin argued that process began in Charlottetown

Charlottetown was the first of three conferences held to establish the terms of Confederation. (George P. Roberts/Library and Archives Canada)

 A Senate committee has approved a private member's bill recognizing Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.

P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin appeared before the legal and constitutional affairs committee Thursday, arguing that while Confederation grew out of a number of conferences, the process began in Charlottetown in 1864.

University of Prince Edward Island historian Ed MacDonald says having the designation is important in the teaching of Canada's history, and for its impact on tourism for Prince Edward Island.

He says people are fascinated to learn that while many countries were formed at the point of a sword, Canada was born at the tip of a pen.

Quebec Senator Serge Joyal noted that meetings were also held in Quebec and Ontario prior to Confederation, and in fact P.E.I. was the 7th colony to actually join Confederation.

Diane Griffin argued the process of Confederation began in Charlottetown to a Senate committee on Thursday.

MacDonald noted that while that may be an ironic statement on history, the designation is for the city of Charlottetown being the location of the first conference.

The committee approved the private member's bill and it will now be sent back to the Senate for a third reading and debate.

Griffin said if the bill passes through the Senate and gets approval in the House of Commons unchanged, it will not have to go back to the Senate, and can be sent for Royal Assent by the Governor General. 

Griffin also confirmed that her bill will replace a similar private member's bill introduced in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Wayne Easter. 

"We agreed to go through the Senate first so that we could expedite the process," she said in an e-mail to CBC.

With files from Kerry Campbell