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My name is Jordan Grondin and I am a 17 year old Canadian Home Educated (also known as home schooled) teenager who is working on getting this statue of R. B. Bennett on Parliament Hill In 2009 I started to deeply consider doing a heritage fair project on former Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett. I started doing research very early on and I was really excited when I found out that Bennett was from New Brunswick but never dreamed that he was born and raised down the road from where I live. When I started to read about former Prime Minister by the name of Richard Bedford Bennett it was the beginning of the long road to getting recognition for him. When I got into this project I went crazy trying to find material. I was very surprised to find out that there is not much written on Bennett. Unfortunately for me the full biography on Bennett came out after I finished my research paper and I was selected to represent all the home educated students from across the Province of New Brunswick.
I was excited to present my project on Richard Bedford Bennett to the public at the New Brunswick Provincial Heritage Fair Showcase. I had the privilege of meeting the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick Graydon Nicholas. Presenting my historical project on former Prime Minister Bennett once again challenged me to start working on a project to recognize him for all he has done for Canada during the Great Depression. He did a lot of work in stabilizing our economy.
When a former Prime Minister of Canada retires or dies, Parliament has honored the person with a portrait and a statue on Parliament Hill. Prime Minister R. B. Bennett who led Canada during one of the darkest times in Canadian history does not have a statue on Parliament Hill.
I am going let you read a portion of the history of the R. B. Bennett statue as written by Tristin Hopper of the National Post:
`` R.B. Bennett, Prime Minister from 1930 to 1935, is not the kind of Canadian leader who typically inspires youthful political activism.
Although he founded the CBC and the Bank of Canada, his legacy is largely overshadowed by his perceived inaction during the Great
Depression. He passed a plan in the mould of the U.S. New Deal on the eve of the 1935 election, but his Conservatives nevertheless lost 95
seats, the largest-ever Tory defeat up to that point. Just three years later, Mr. Bennett permanently fled Canada to a 94-acre estate in the
English countryside. He died in 1947 and remains the only Canadian Prime minister buried outside the country.
Today, aside from a 1960s-era portrait hung in Centre Block, R.B. Bennett’s most enduring parliamentary legacy is as an insult. In 1997,
then-opposition leader Preston Manning accused former prime minister Jean Chretien of being “right up there with R.B. Bennett” in his weak
response to unemployment. In 2006, Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc declared "R.B. Bennett may be alive and well” after a Conservative MP suggested
that unemployed Atlantic Canadians should simply move to the West.
Seven of Canada’s 22 prime ministers are currently immortalized on Parliament Hill. In the 1960s, Mr. Bennett, along with former prime
ministers Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent and Arthur Meighen, was pegged for a series of four new Parliament Hill statues. The
nine-foot-tall Mackenzie King statue was unveiled in 1968 with a 21-gun salute — but the other three prime ministers remained hidden
with the explanation that they were too “embarrassing” to display.
In 1974, 79-year-old former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker stormed into an Ottawa Public Works department warehouse demanding to see the
forsaken statues. Led to the rear of the facility by hesitant employees, Mr. Diefenbaker encountered a “monstrous,” highly stylized
statue of Arthur Meighen. Liberal MP Lloyd Francis, who had made an earlier visit to the warehouse, described it as “grotesque, with his
arms spread and his face turned to the sky as if contemplating Armageddon.” Mr. Diefenbaker compared it to a Halloween decoration.
Mr. Bennett had never been sculpted, but a preliminary marquette of the statue depicted a baby-like head perched atop a stumpy, seal-like
form. “The mummies of Egypt look more real than that,” said Mr. Diefenbaker. Louis St. Laurent’s statue was relatively true-to-life,
but his seated pose and bored-looking expression was not in keeping with the “vitality” of other Parliament Hill statues, explained public
St. Laurent’s likeness was eventually installed a few blocks from Parliament at the Supreme Court of Canada. The Meighen statue would
remain hidden from view until 1987, when it was packed off to a small park in St. Mary’s, Ontario.
In 2005, Ms. Grewal, the B.C. MP supporting Mr. Grondin, introduced a private member’s bill calling for a new statue, but it was voted down
by all but her Conservative peers. Conservative senator Hugh Segal met a similar response when he tried a to pass a similar bill through the
Mr. Bennett’s reputation has enjoyed a minor boost in recent years, partly as a result of the Bank of Canada’s strong performance in the
most recent recession. In a recent Maclean’s magazine ranking of Canadian prime ministers, Mr. Bennett jumped from 17th to 12th place.
“R.B. Bennett is a case study in political leadership during a time of national and global crisis. He is whispering to us through time. We
owe it to ourselves to listen,” wrote author John Boyko in a glowing 2010 biography of Mr. Bennett.
Last year, former prime minister John Turner publicly joined the pro-Bennett camp. “This glaring omission has bothered me since I was
a young MP sent to Ottawa in 1962,” wrote Mr. Turner in a 2010 op-ed. “Proud Liberal though I was — and remain — the time has come to erect
a statue to this Conservative prime minister on Parliament Hill.”
In fact.. in 2005 Conservative Member of Parliament Nina Grewal (MP for Fleetwood Port-Keels) put forth a bill in the house of commons..…The bill was defeated by the Bloc Quebecois, Liberals, and NDP… these are the words Nina Grewal used in the context of the bill: “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should forthwith honour the memory of the Right Honourable Richard B. Bennett by erecting a statue in his likeness on Parliament Hill.” Senator Hugh Segal was another Conservative to see the bill squashed. Senator Segal told the senate that “As a former prime minister who served with determination and intense loyalty to the public interest, he deserves a statue on Parliament Hill, to stand beside others so memorialized. I know I can count on the goodwill and sound judgment of honourable senators on both sides of the aisle for this important curatorial initiative." It was something that wasn’t mentioned until 2010 when John Boyko released his book titled “Bennett: The Rebel who Challenged and Changed a Nation” was published and a statue of the late Prime Minister was unveiled in Bennett's hometown of Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick.
R. B. Bennett became an investor in many companies, including the C.P.R., Canada Cement Company, Alberta Pacific Grain Elevators, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Patriotic Fund, National Service Board, E. B. Eddy Company, Canadian Radio Broadcast Commission, and the Bank of Canada. He stood as a member of the territorial assembly and as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. I was very surprised to find out that when Richard sat as a Member of Parliament (MP) he held the seat that our current Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, now occupies. I believe it is most important that we
get a statue to recognize such an important man in Canadian History. He did a lot for Canada and I strongly believe that we need to get proper recognition for Prime Minister R. B. Bennett on Parliament Hill. Bennett also gave away money to whoever wrote him for money. It is estimated he gave away over 2.85 million dollars.
I have received the endorsements of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and about 199 other politicians as well as the Progressive Conservative
Party of New Brunswick. I have been in over 64 newspapers across the nation. Some of the most prominent newspapers including the National
Post, Times and Transcript, Telegraph Journal, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald, and the Ottawa Citizen. I was featured on CBC Television and Radio celebrating Canada Day by gathering signatures, doing media interviews, and enjoying the day chatting with the general public.
This campaign to get Prime Minister Bennett a statue has been named "One of the Heartwarming stories of 2011" by the Telegraph Journal of
Saint John, NB. As to my statue campaign, I have worked hard and I have officially reached my goal of 1000 signatures. I am working with the Members of
Parliament and Senators to see that R. B. Bennett gets his statue erected on Parliament Hill. On July 1st, 2011 I was at the Riverview
Sunfest Market from 12-7 pm. On July 2nd, 2011 I was at the Albert County Museum gathering signatures at their R. B. Bennett Day which
was from 12-4 pm. On July 9th, 2011 I had a table and collected signatures at the Fundy Valley Market at the Riverside-Albert Rec Centre from 9-1. At every event I am at I have a table set up where people can learn about Mr. Bennett and I can gather signatures. On July 16th, 2011 I was on a parade
float during the Hillsborough Homecoming Days Parade despite being in a serious motor vehicle accident and being all scrapped up, bruises
everywhere, and a broken hand. On August 27th, 2011 I held an event at the Albert County Museum and I had a lot of people at the event
despite the State Funeral for former NDP Leader Jack Layton and the hurricane which hit the east coast the next day. On September 17th I
walked the parade route of the Albert County Exhibition gathering signatures while people were awaiting the beginning of the parade.
Immediately following the parade I set up a booth inside the Albert County Exhibition fair grounds where by 5 pm I had successfully reached my goal!
On December 9th, 2011 MP John Williamson gave a S.O. 31 on the R. B. Bennett which made a lot of progress! On December 27th, 2011 I was on
CTV Television Atlantic with a story on my campaign.
On April 4th, 2012 the Government of Nova Scotia passed a Resolution supporting my campaign to have a statue of R. B. Bennett on Parliament Hill.
On June 1st, 2012 I will be officially celebrating the Give R. B. Bennett a Statue on Parliament Hill Campaign’s One Year Anniversary.
I am awaiting a date as to when it will be brought before Parliament but I feel confident that I will be heading to Ottawa soon to watch the politicians have a friendly ``arguement`` as to whether or not the statue will be re-commissioned and erected. I have confidence that with a Conservative Majority Government it will be erected! And I will not rest until it is finished and I get to unveil the statue to the public. I am still looking for more national support and I would like your support for this campaign. If you require more information, by all means reply to this email with your questions and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
Please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask any questions or to endorse our campaign, or you wish to conduct an interview with our campaign
Chair of the Give R. B. Bennett a Statue on Parliament Hill Campaign