March 17, 1978

LIB

Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council; Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to President of Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I request the unanimous consent of the House so we may proceed to consideration of Bill C-234 and that all items appearing on the order paper before that bill be allowed to stand.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO GIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS TO POLICE
Permalink
LIB

Denis √Čthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Order. The House has heard the request of the parliamentary secretary. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO GIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS TO POLICE
Permalink
PC

Walter David Baker (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO GIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS TO POLICE
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO GIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS TO POLICE
Permalink

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS

HOLIDAYS ACT

LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. Mark MacGuigan (Windsor-Walkerville) moved

that Bill C-234, respecting National Heritage Day, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is, on the one hand, a pleasure to be able to speak again on this important piece of unfinished business. On the other hand, it is a slightly unhappy occasion in that it is necessary to speak on it again, to find that the bill has not yet been passed and that the government bill with a similar initiative which had been introduced in the last session has not been reintroduced. Nevertheless, I understand that the

Heritage Day

government is committed to this initiative and will at least in time bring forth legislation on its own behalf.

In the meantime, I would certainly like to advance the acceptance of national heritage day through my Bill C-234. Indeed, as I will develop in the course of my remarks, there is at least one substantial difference, perhaps two, between the bill which I am proposing and that which it appears the government would desire. I would suggest on both points that the consensus of parties which is represented in my bill is the preferable position to take.

I wish to say first that it is a pleasure to have an opportunity on an occasion such as this to celebrate my national heritage as well. We Irish have become so Anglicized that we do not have as many chances to parade our original origins now as we used to. In some places they still turn rivers green on St. Patrick's Day. In most cases all we can do is wear a badge to indicate our origin. In my case all of my ancestors came here from Ireland in the 1830's and forties. It is a long time ago, but I like to look back on that heritage because I believe it has made an important contribution to what Canada is today.

That is what each of us feels about his heritage in Canada. That is one of the great things about this country, perhaps the greatest, that we each have a distinctive heritage. Each of us can look at his own heritage and his own contribution to Canada with pride. Our government looks at all of these with pride as having made a contribution to the development of our country.

With respect to national heritage day, I believe two provinces have adopted national heritage days. I think the territory of the Yukon has also done so. In addition, there are a number of large organizations which are very instrumental in pressing for the establishment of our heritage. Kinsmen are one of those groups and I frequently had an opportunity of appearing before them. They have been taking a major initiative with regard to this legislation. I believe Optimists International have taken a similar position.

Bill C-234 is a symbol of the richness of our national heritage. I believe it is strongly supported by all the people of Canada. In a questionnaire which I included in a householder last month, I asked my constituents the question: "Do you favour Heritage Day as a national holiday in February?". The replies are now in, about 700 in all. Of those, 68.7 per cent favour a heritage day as a national holiday in February. Only 31.3 per cent are opposed. In fact, most of those who were opposed objected only to the date, not to the concept. They wrote on the questionnaire other dates they would prefer. Nevertheless, the date proposed in this bill is obviously the one around which there is the greatest popular consensus.

I would like to go back to the genesis of this bill in the justice committee. In 1973, this matter came before the justice committee with some degree of force because there were quite a number of bills at that time which were referred to the

March 17, 1978

Heritage Day

committee. The committee was being asked in some way to resolve this problem.

I might just mention that some of those who presented bills were the hon. member for Hillsborough (Mr. Macquarrie), the hon. member for York-Simcoe (Mr. Stevens) and the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Leggatt), I believe. He was certainly a member of the justice subcommittee which straightened out the matter and I believe he had a bill. There were also several former parliamentarians such as Mr. Reginald Stackhouse, the hon. member for Scarborough East at that time, and Mr. Nelson from British Columbia. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) will know his constituency.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Burnaby-Seymour.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

He was the member for that area at that time. Having regard to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, I would like to pay a special tribute to him for his support in this important task.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

He has been indefatigable in his activities with regard to this legislation. 1 am encouraged by that because I have noticed in the course of my public life, and even more in the course of his, that he very often in the long run gets his way with many of those pieces of legislation for which he so tenaciously struggles in this House. That gives me added reason to hope that before very long we will see the fruits of his labour, mine and those of many other people and get this measure on the statute books of Canada.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

I wish to refer to the report of a subcommittee of the justice committee that was presented in that committee on December 18, 1973. As I mentioned, there was a diversity of options. The justice committee set up a subcommittee of which I was the chairman. We were able to bring in a unanimous report which made the following recommendations. Although this is found in the minutes of the justice committee at page 32:4, I do not think it would be a bad idea to put it in Hansard today. I presented the report of the subcommitte on the subject matter. It read as follows:

The Sub-committee on the subject-matter of a National Holiday of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs has the honour of presenting to the Committee the following recommendations:

(1) That the Government consider the advisability of introducing legislation to establish the third Monday of February as a new legal holiday;

(2) That this holiday be kept and observed under the name of Heritage Day;

(3) That the particular aspect of our heritage to be honoured on this day should be varied by proclamation from year to year. In the opinion of the Sub-committee the focal point of the celebration for the first year should be the Canadian Flag, for the second year our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and for the third year, our native peoples;

(4) That a new Standing Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, chaired by the Speakers of both Houses, should be established to recommend to the Government the theme of the holiday from year to year;

(5) That the Government consider the advisability of issuing a special stamp and coin each year to mark the celebration more fully.

After debate thereon, on the motion of the hon. member for York-Simcoe the report was concurred in unanimously by the justice committee. I might just make a few additional comments on that.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
PC

Walter David Baker (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

What year was that?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

December 18, 1973. The name was varied from heritage day to national heritage day on my initiative because of the difficulty of finding an adequate translation in the French. It was thought that the word "patrimoine" by itself might not signify exactly the right thing, that "patrimoine national" was the preferred phrase. Therefore, we made the insertion of the word "national" in the English as well to keep the name of the holiday parallel in both languages.

There was a subsequent resolution of the justice committee which recommended that the Canadian Bill of Rights should be the focal point of the celebration in the fourth year. That has also been added to the bill.

I did not proceed with the idea of a standing joint committee of both Houses of Parliament chaired by the Speakers of both Houses to advise the government, not because I had a change of mind on this, but because it seemed a bit too elaborate a setup for a single matter of this kind.

The matter was put in the hands of the government to decide by proclamation but with the understanding and recommendation I am making here now that this be done on the basis of a consensus of party leaders, or whatever form of consensus might be established, so that the holiday which was established would not be one which brought any acrimony to the Canadian scene but was one which had very general support in all segments in this House and, therefore, in all parts of Canada. Indeed, it would be political folly for a government to proceed in any other way on a matter of this kind.

I will come to that subject later, but not too much later because I do not want to prevent other members from making a contribution to this debate. I wish we were not having a debate but simply putting the bill through. Since I do not sense that to be the disposition of the House, I think this to be an opportune time to put some things on record.

The bill which is before us represents an initiative of an all-party body. It represents the feelings of all groups in Canada. There seem to be only two arguments against it. One was raised by the hon. member for Palliser (Mr. Schumacher) on a previous occasion and his opinion may be shared by other hon. members.

March 17, 1978

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

By the Secretary of State (Mr. Roberts), for example.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

I do not think that is the view of the Secretary of State. I think there is simply a reluctance there to proceed at the moment. As for consideration of the question of the work ethic, the notion of the work ethic put forward by the hon. member for Palliser is not mine. My notion is that people should work when they wish to, or when it is their duty, but that they should also have time off. It would not be excessive to have 12 holidays a year rather than the nine or ten presently recognized. Consequently, I have no difficulty with this concept.

There are some who link their opposition to this proposal with our present economic difficulties and they tend to think its adoption would present difficulties for business. Several years ago a survey was made with respect to employees under federal jurisdiction. It showed that most of such employees in Canada already enjoyed more days off than were designated in legislation. That was in 1973. In other words, we are merely establishing a minimum by what we propose to do here because employees are already receiving more days than are prescribed by statute, so the number of holidays will not necessarily increase. At the time of the survey, 95 per cent of employees had nine or more general holidays when only eight were required by legislation. Some 72 per cent had ten holidays, at least two more than legislation at the time required. This is an indication that the business community does recognize that holidays make an essential contribution to work. I hope that once our temporary economic difficulties are over the government will recover its courage and proceed with this bill immediately. I hope this will come about early in the next parliament.

Another type of argument is used-I do not think it is one which will stir the country. There has been a feeling expressed in committee that the government might use its unilateral proclamation power to vary the focal point of the celebration each year, misusing the discretion given to it for its own purposes, and that this would be divisive. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that a government which attempted to use tactics of that kind would not profit politically by so doing.

On the other hand, it is quite likely that in the mind of the government there is hesitation about accepting such a power on the ground that it is too weighty a responsibility: in the mind of the public it would be taking responsibility for whatever day is established and nobody else would share it. Well, that is a very good argument, it seems to me, in favour of the government's appointing a public committee. It could be a committee of this House or it could be a committee of citizens, or a combination of both, set up to make recommendations as to what the focal point should be each year. I would suggest that this be done on an annual basis, without making too many

Heritage Day

decisions far in advance. This should not arouse selfish instincts because as long as the country and the world continue there will be a succession of opportunities to name a day, and a group which does not get the year it desires recognized in terms of its special hero will still have another opportunity the following year. So it is not a question of the government ever having to say no. The government merely has to say: You have to wait a bit longer until your subject matter is recommended by the advisory committee.

The advantage of having this power of proclamation lies in the opportunity it affords to recognize the richness of our country. Canada is a country with so many cultures that we have been able to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism which states there is no official culture, that the earlier notion that there was such a thing as biculturalism in Canada was a mistaken one, and that while we think about bilingualism we now couple this not with biculturalism but with multiculturalism. We recognize all these cultures and their contribution to the present and the future and, indeed, to the past of our country.

This power of designation by government on the recommendation of public spirited citizens and parliamentarians, coupled with the ability to issue stamps and coins and all the things which would help Canadians to recognize aspects of their life together, seems to me to be an immensely useful one. Even if you look at it from the point of view of historical discoverers, or if you look at it from the point of view of immigrant groups, on however you look at it, there are just so many aspects of our national heritage to be recognized that you can think of a century of subjects to be recognized without having to sit down for more than three or four minutes.

There is no trouble about arriving at aspects of our national life which we want to celebrate. So this power of designating those aspects, of giving a little special recognition to them from time to time, is very important. It could make an enormous contribution to our life as a society. So I would hope that when the government does again embrace this initiative, or if it is prepared to support my bill, the power to designate the aspect of the holiday will be embodied in the legislation.

I just want to say in conclusion that the genesis of this bill suggests that it should not be a matter of partisan strife. There is, I believe, a genuine national consensus on the need for such a holiday. The only real dispute among most ordinary Canadians has to do with when it should be each year. That is a fortunate position for a parliament to be in, to be able to take an initiative which is so generally acceptable to the people, and I urge that this step be taken very soon.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, I am proud and honoured to follow a fellow Islander, the hon. member who has just spoken, a very distinguished parliamentarian and a one-time opponent of mine in a general election.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan

Liberal

Mr. MacGuigan:

I would rather forget about that!

March 17, 1978

Heritage Day

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

A few years ago the Liberal party in Prince Edward Island thought it should scour the highways and byways to get a more highly educated man than Macquarrie. It discovered the hon. gentleman, whose erudition and education I salute and respect. I look upon him as one of the most distinguished Islanders of this generation or any other following a very distinguished and honourable family in our province.

I want to say, too, that I have the greatest respect for what he has done in the course of his duty as committee chairman. He has brought broadmindedness and, generally, an apolitical attitude toward some very important issues facing the Canadian people and parliament.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   HOLIDAYS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY
Permalink

March 17, 1978