Mr. Hal Herbert (Vaudreuil) moved
that Bill C-201, to amend the Holidays Act, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration.
He said: Mr. Speaker, if I appear to have little enthusiasm this afternoon, it is because I have a major preoccupation, and that is the Quebec referendum. I must admit that my mood changes from day to day as I see what is happening in my chosen province. I find it an extraordinary coincidence that of the 300 or so bills on the order paper, this one should have been drawn first out of the hat and is the subject of discussion this afternoon.
Last evening, at one of the many meetings I am attending at the present time trying to present the advantages to Quebec by remaining in confederation, 1 was questioned on the ability of federal members of Parliament to do anything about changing our constitution. When we talk of renewed federalism, we talk about our faith in our country as it is presently constituted, but we cannot seem to do anything about it. This gentleman said to me, "If you want to make any change at all, you have to get the agreement of all the provinces." How true that is. He spoke of the English insensitivity.
I must admit that in the many meetings I have been attending in the last few weeks, it is abundantly apparent that we English have lots of logic which we use to try to convince our Francophone colleagues in Quebec, and on their side those who want to promote the separatist cause-the independence of the province of Quebec-that they are extremely emotional. It is very difficult to combat emotionalism, so the argument at the present time is logic versus emotion.
I made a choice. During the last war when I came to this country to train in the air force, I was stationed here in Ottawa. I liked what I saw. I enjoyed the people. I enjoyed the opportunities that were available. So, when the war ended, I decided to come to Canada and to become a Canadian. Of all the provinces in Canada, I chose Quebec. 1 did not choose Quebec because it was English. I chose it because I liked the way of life in the province of Quebec. But 1 chose it because it was one of the provinces of Canada, and my first choice was this country-surely the richest, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We have tremendous natural resources. We have everything to make us very proud. But maybe that is our problem. We suffer sometimes from a lack of pride in our country, and particularly in Quebec I find that a lack of pride is one of the difficulties.
I have pointed out that in the province of Quebec the
provincial government already has complete and full authority
for education, culture and language-the items which are
probably the most important when we talk about the powers of the provinces-but always they bring up the point that when one is a minority one cannot always have one's own way. The problem is that everyone is a minority in some way or another. Whether it be the Francophone minority in Canada, or for that matter the Francophone minority in North America, the Francophone minority in the English provinces or the Anglophone minority in the province of Quebec, we are always in a minority position in some area and therefore we have to make compromises.
It was back in 1946 that the change I am suggesting in this bill was first proposed and the bill got as far as the Senate. Since then the bill has twice got into committee, and as late as last year it was killed in this House on third reading.
When I speak of logic, one could very easily argue that there is not much sense to bringing forward this kind of bill today because for most Canadians July 1 is presently celebrated as Canada Day. Incidentally, just last week when I was talking about this bill and the fact that it has been drawn out of the hat as the first bill, an individual said to me, "Why are you talking about making July 1 Canada Day when it already is Canada Day?" It is this kind of irritation that is causing us so much difficulty. It is an emotional thing. Obviously the people in Quebec look at it as another example of what we federal members are not able to do-to say on July 1 that we want to celebrate our national holiday using the name of our country, as every other country would surely want to do.
The secretary of state of the previous Conservative government used the words "Canada Day" in the literature from his department. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation uses the words "Canada Day". Most newspapers throughout the country use the terminology "Canada Day". The previous Liberal government on a couple of occasions-and one of our ministers who is present in the House today is well aware of this- introduced a bill to change the terminology so that we can legally use the words "Canada Day" on July 1.
I am making a plea this afternoon. I understand all the arguments of the persons opposed to this change. They are all on the record and I am sympathetic to their arguments. But it still does not change the fact that surely there should only be one designation for our national holiday.
The proposal in this bill is to simply change the wording in section 2 of the Holidays Act so that our national holiday will be celebrated on July 1 as Canada Day. I ask hon. members of this House to express their agreement with what we are trying to achieve this afternoon by passing this bill on second reading, so that once again it can continue its progress through committee and back to this House for third reading.
Subtopic: HOLIDAYS ACT