As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, these are the problems that face the people in the different provinces of Canada. In Quebec we wish to protect our culture and our rights, to worship as we see fit without being considered as different or apart from any other Canadian. It seems to me that that is not so much to ask. Just as it is in the interests of all Canadians, from an economic point of view, to see to it that the interests, the varied interests, of the various parts of Canada are protected and our respective problems solved, so too is it in the interests of all Canadians, from a democratic and from a human rights point of view, to respect and to protect the fundamental rights and freedom of culture, language and worship, not only of Canadians living in Quebec but of all minority groups living in Canada. Because, Mr. Speaker, without the former you cannot achieve economic stability in our country and without the latter we have not even got a real democracy in Canada. As I say, Mr. Speaker, anyone who disregards these fundamental principles and who is willing to jeopardize national unity for the sake of political advantage is rendering a very poor service indeed to Canada and to Canadians. I may say, also, Mr. Speaker, that in the long run he is not aiding but he is destroying his own political party.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot help referring briefly to the visit to Canada of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and of her worthy consort His Royal Highness Prince Philip. For the first time in the history of this country, the opening of parliament was presided over by the gracious Queen of Canada in person.
The opportunity afforded us, on this memorable occasion, of greeting the Queen, in whose person the governmental authority finds such a worthy representative, has been a very great honour for Canada. I am convinced that, throughout the various forms which our greetings took during those days, Her Majesty was conscious not only of the
loyalty of her Canadian people but also of their affection and of the love they were so anxious to show.
I was extremely gratified to be able to represent my constituents at those imposing ceremonies. As the member for Richelieu-Vercheres, I was extremely honoured to have been presented to her Gracious Majesty and I will cherish that memory as long as I live.
As I closely followed the traditional procedures of the opening of parliament and as I observed the innate dignity of the young Queen of Canada, I could not but feel once more that a tradition with its time-honoured splendours is an unappreciable source of cohesion, of strength, of legitimate national pride, of patriotism and of respect for constituted governmental authority.
As she spoke to the Canadian people, a week ago, Her Majesty showed herself to be really the Queen of Canada and of all Canadians.
The eloquent words of our sovereign have, to my mind, been another important step towards that national unity which strengthens the very real existence of this Canadian nation of ours, whose first principle is a deep respect for the culture, traditions and faith of every citizen of this country.
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