December 18, 1987

NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops-Shuswap):

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is fitting that on the day Parliament rises for the Christmas break we have a discussion on designating December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day.

This raises a number of questions for me. For many years in this House I have listened to my good friend and colleague, the Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam (Ms. Jewett), make many speeches to the effect, I suppose, of setting aside every day for international peace and goodwill.

I am not questioning the intentions of the Hon. Member who submitted this idea, but to set aside one day of the year to focus our attention on international peace and goodwill would be to miss a real opportunity. I think Canadians all believe that Canada has a unique role to play in international peace and goodwill.

Canada is seen by many nations as being a non-aggressor, a nation with no imperialistic tendencies. We have been known for some years for our international peace-keeping forces, for much good works in development, and for playing a role in international peace conferences and promoting the peace movement internationally as well as at home. I would much rather have the Government propose to target every day for international peace and goodwill and take a number of steps toward achieving the goals implicit in that designation.

We just witnessed the signing of a major treaty between the two superpowers, which was a major step toward arms reduction. Yet, the Government continues its policy of testing the cruise missile. It is very clear that we must now take steps to remove ourselves from the testing of this deadly first-strike weapon.

As a matter of fact, the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Clark) made the commitment to the people of Canada that once the treaty was signed and a step toward

Peace and Goodwill Day

arms reduction took place Canada would extract itself from this testing program. Of course, such has not been the case.

The Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam has, on a number of occasions, urged the Secretary of State for External Affairs to ensure that Canada take a much more significant role in encouraging the peace process in Central America. On many occasions she has urged the Minister to make contact with the United States administration and encourage them to back off in their support for dictatorial regimes in Nicaragua and other regions of the world. Other than lip service, we have not seen very much.

Suggestions were made, again by the Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam, that the Government now take a leadership role in encouraging the superpowers to continue the process of arms reduction. Again, such has not been the case.

It is, therefore, with some frustration that I speak to this private Member's Bill. I respect the motive of the Hon. Member in wanting to designate December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day rather than Boxing Day. I applaud and support the general intention. However, I would much rather see the Hon. Member take the initiative to urge the Government which he represents to take meaningful steps toward international peace and goodwill. I have mentioned only three initiatives which could be taken. There are many others.

I appreciate the motive of the hon. back-bencher of the Government, but it would be much more appropriate to expand this concept to ensure that Canada plays a major leadership role in moving the world toward more peace and goodwill, especially in terms of the reduction of the arms buildup.

Therefore, my feelings are rather mixed. I support the intention, but I do not believe that if we set aside December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day we will have made a major step forward. I believe that would tend to divert attention from the real and meaningful initiatives which the Government of Canada should be taking with regard to international peace and goodwill.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

John Barry Turner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Barry Turner (Ottawa-Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-238, an Act respecting International Peace and Goodwill Day. As you know, the Bill was first read on December 1, 1986, just over a year ago. As other Members have said, it is also very appropriate that we should be reviewing this Bill at this time of Christmas and the spirit of peace and goodwill toward all.

There are three important comments in the preamble of the Bill which I want to review. The first states:

Whereas the people of Canada endorse the objective of world peace;

I think we all agree with that. The second states:

Whereas they seek earnestly to achieve this end:

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Peace and Goodwill Day

1 think the record of Canada has been exemplary around the world in this respect. Third, it states:

And whereas they seek to set an example of their commitment to the nations of the world;

Again, Canada's example has been unquestionable.

The Bill itself deals with changing the name of a national holiday, which is a very serious matter and one which I believe deserves very solemn and strong consideration by Members of the House.

My colleague, the Hon. Member for Hastings-Fron-tenac-Lennox-Addington (Mr. Vankoughnet), is to be commended for his initiative in introducing this matter, because the pursuit of peace, whether it is the formal recognition of a day in Canada, through discussions in this House, through efforts at conferences or through Canada's middle power role with the superpowers, is something that we can and should never lose sight of.

However, let us consider the holiday which this Bill seeks to change, Boxing Day, December 26. As is observed in the useful book High Days and Holidays in Canada:

The day is almost a continuation of Christmas, for the customs associated with it are practically the same. Boxing Day, the name given by the English to the day after Christmas, is a bank holiday with them. On that day, Christmas 'boxes' are given to errand boys, postmen and those who are entitled to gratuities . . .

This pleasant holiday observance has been embraced by Canada in name, certainly, although I dare say the spreading of "tributes" to errand boys, postmen and, in our context, newspaper boys and girls, laneway shovellers and so on, is done in advance of Christmas rather than the day after.

My colleague from Newfoundland referred to the days when the milkmen used to deliver milk to the house. I remember my mother and father giving them an extra gift at Christmas. While we always forgot to give something to the horse, the milkmen certainly received a gift. These days, we normally give gifts to service people who help us throughout the course of the year before Christmas.

However, the traditions of Boxing Day in the other sense have stayed. It is a day of rest and relaxation, of spending time with our families and associating with the joys of Christmas. It is a day that we spend visiting our relatives and counting our blessings. Usually it is also a day of rest and recuperation from the pressures and stress often associated with the preparation for Christmas Day. Our grandparents, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles and godmothers can all testify to the tremendous efforts that go into preparing for Christmas Day.

We must consider whether this is the appropriate atmosphere for Canadians to spend a day paying honour and tribute to international peace and goodwill. Perhaps we should rethink the matter somewhat.

As I said a moment ago, one can hardly be opposed to the notion that international peace and goodwill are worthy subjects for being honoured, perhaps even with a national

holiday. However, when one is in the overindulged, post-Christmas Day, when we are full of food and fun, I question whether it would be appropriate to pick that day as the internationial day for peace and goodwill.

As my colleague, the Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis) said, we should not downplay the importance of pursuing peace and goodwill, not just on one day, but on every day. I think of the strife we see throughout the world today with the problems in Lebanon in the Middle East, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Gulf war between Iran and Iraq, where hundreds of thousands have died. There is conflict between Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab. There is the conflict between the Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. There is tremendous strife in Central America. I visited Africa recently, where I saw the strife in Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique. There is tremendous strife in the Republic of South Africa.

I think of what we saw in South Korea yesterday and today. There is political strife in Afghanistan between the people and the Soviet military. We saw tremendous conflict in Haiti. One need not look very far to see examples in the world where there is no peace.

Let us focus on the more serious issues for a moment. International peace has long been of major concern to Canada, and our commitment to peace as well as our tolerant attitudes toward all peoples hold true today. Canadians are particularly fortunate to live in what has been called "a peaceable kingdom". There have been no real wars on our soil in more than a century and a half, nor has there ever been a war of Canadian origin or for a Canadian cause.

Canadian leaders infinitely prefer to make treaties rather than to take up arms. Indeed, right at the beginning of our nationhood, when the Provinces of Canada were united in a Confederation in 1867, the legal document making it official promised Canadian citizens "peace, order and good government". I am reminded of my own Christmas message which I sent to my constituents yesterday when I talked about the peace, order and good government we have in our country.

Occasionally we may have a political skirmish, as we saw today in the House dealing with the free trade agreement, but that is how we settle our disputes. We do it in this chamber, not with bayonets and bullets in the streets of our towns and villages.

None of them would question the fact that there is peace and order in this land. Canada has proven its attachment to world peace and its concern for human rights. Our constant support to the efforts of the United Nations, our decision to create a special fund for disarmament and our condemnation of human rights violations in South Africa, Latin America and many other regions in the world are tangible proof of our will to promote a climate of equality for all human beings.

December 18, 1987

I would remind Hon. Members that in our observance of Remembrance Day we pay our respects to those who have made possible international peace, or as much of it as we can enjoy these days. On Remembrance Day we pay tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice, and those who served their country as members of the Armed Forces in the two World Wars as well as in the several peace-keeping actions in which Canada has been engaged for the United Nations. In that sense, every day, not just Remembrance Day or Christmas Day, should be a day for us to remember in the pursuit of international peace and goodwill.

Some years ago there was a movement to initiate a national holiday that would recognize Heritage Day. Frankly, I think that this proposition is a very reasonable one. Perhaps I might share a couple of Mr. Pierre Berton's thoughts on the matter when he spoke of the importance of creating what might be known as Heritage Day. In a Heritage Canada publication Mr. Burton suggests, " ... if we are to have a holiday-and I believe it is inevitable-surely we ought to use it as a tool to mark some aspect of our nationality and culture. Our major summer holiday, July 1, celebrates our political past. What is needed now, in February, is a day on which we can celebrate our non-political past. That day clearly is Heritage Day, which falls on the third Monday in February-an ideal time for such a holiday".

We all recognize the importance of creating a special moment during the year to pursue peace. Personally, I do not think that Boxing Day is the best day to do that. We have had tremendous traditions that that is a day that comes just after Christmas. But in that spirit I wish to say to you, Sir, to all Members in the House, and to our constituents, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Shirley Martin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Shirley Martin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks on this Bill. I certainly appreciate the spirit with which it was brought forward by my hon. colleague.

Boxing Day has been traditional all through my life, perhaps because I come from a background with English parents. Boxing Day is often celebrated in Canada as strongly as it is in Britain, because of our ties with that country.

The idea of a holiday or the designation of a day for peace and goodwill is something that we should all take very seriously. International peace and goodwill is something that Canadians have worked for over the years, and certainly nowhere more fervently than at the United Nations. The time that I have spent down there in the last two to three years has brought to me even more of an awareness of how important is international peace.

As was mentioned by a previous speaker, we are very lucky in Canada because we have not had a war on our shores for

Peace and Goodwill Day

many years. The part of the country that I come from is actually the battleground of the War of 1812. In the farm on which we live we have breastworks that were left from the original battle of the War of 1812. As we till the land, we still turn up musket balls, arrowheads, and pieces of pottery from settlements that took place during that war.

International Peace is very important to Canadians. It is something that we must always have in mind, and something that we must work towards not only on our own shores but also on distant shores. Canada's role in peacekeeping operations around the world is one that we can be very proud of, and certainly one that is envied by many other countries. I have received comments from people working in peacekeeping forces around the world who speak with a great deal of pride for Canadians, not only for their talents and expertise in keeping the peace, but for their dedication and the amount of effort that we put forward in the United Nations where we are seen as a leader.

In the crucial arms reduction talks that have been taking place, Canada's motion at the United Nations and the resolution that it brought forward on the verification of peacekeeping treaties and the arms reduction treaties set a precedent. It was one that had been worked on for years, and it was finally the Canadians who were able to bring the resolution and receive unanimous consent. International peace and goodwill should be honoured and respected not only in Canada but around the world.

For that reason, it is difficult to talk against the Bill, because I believe in the spirit of it and the spirit with which it was brought forward. However, my reluctance is that I am not sure that Boxing Day should be the day that is changed to represent this particular title.

Canadians should not need a day entitled International Peace and Goodwill Day to remind them that this is something to which that we are committed. The theme of international peace and goodwill is something that should be on the minds of Canadians every day. I do not think that it is necessary to have a holiday set aside with that title.

The Hon. Member for Ottawa-Carleton (Mr. Turner) stated that Remembrance Day is something that was recognized as a holiday some years ago. I can remember when I was a child in school that November 11 was always a day that we had off for remembrance. Now that has changed. It has changed because the remembrance of the fallen heroes, and the reason for November 11 is something that is celebrated within the schools. It is an opportunity to teach children the need for remembrance of what those veterans did for us.

This year on November 11, instead of having a service at the cenotaph in my home town of Grimsby, the whole service was held within the public school. All the children attended. The stage within the auditorium was set up as a cenotaph, covered with artificial grass, with a replica of the monument. The entire proceedings took place within the auditorium of the school. That hour of remembrance was an education period for

December 18, 1987

Peace and Goodwill Day

the children, those who had never seen war, and hopefully never will, or hear about it, or read about it. Certainly it brought to them the need to remember the fallen soldiers and the dedication given by the veterans from this country, and their families who stayed at home and suffered the loss of those who were overseas.

It is important that we teach our young people, not through giving them a holiday to celebrate something but through teaching them within the classrooms and with the spirit of example that we show as adults, the need for international peace and goodwill. Our young people will gain more and will have more respect for the term international peace and goodwill through learning and through example of the dedication that we give to those particular words, as opposed to having a holiday where they can go out and forget. Usually when it is a holiday, young people go out and enjoy themselves. They don't always remember what the holiday stands for, rather they remember the time that is available to them.

I would sooner see a day set aside entitled International Peace and Goodwill Day, and that that day be dedicated through the school system across this country to a total day of education on what international peace and goodwill means, so that it is not only at Christmastime that we think of goodwill towards men, but we think about it all year round, with a day set aside for instruction within the schools as to the meaning of international peace and goodwill, and one that brings in not only the teachers but also perhaps the people from the United

Nations. The United Nations Committee has people across the country who I know would be very willing to get involved in this. There are people within our own Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence who would be available to go out and speak to the children and show them why international peace and goodwill is so important.

This type of educational program and also stressing the meaning of international peace is so much more important than taking a day and setting it aside as a holiday. When people go out and have a holiday, they do not really think about the name of the day or the importance of that day. For that reason, Boxing Day is not necessarily the appropriate day to change to International Peace and Goodwill Day.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. The hour provided for consideration of Private Members' Business is now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 42(1), the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

It being 4 p.m., and pursuant to the order made earlier this day, this House stands adjourned until Monday, January 18, 1988 at eleven a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 3 (1).

At 4.01 p.m. the House adjourned until January 18, 1988, pursuant to Special Order.

Monday, January 18, 1988

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT
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Prayers


December 18, 1987