I am also extremely proud that I have been here on an historic occasion and one which will no doubt be long remembered by Canadians. I think the decision this house has made will be remembered long after the bitterness is forgotten. I am very proud to have participated in voting for the new Canadian flag. I think it is a good flag. Like most people, when I first saw it my feelings for the red ensign obscured the affection I might have had for the new flag; but every day as I look at it, it becomes more vital, it becomes stronger. I can see a united Canada in this flag and I am pleased and proud to have been able to vote for it.
Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, Waterloo South is an English speaking riding. It has very strong United Empire Loyalist roots; its people are proud and hard working; it is the home of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, a great regiment with many battle honours; it has four branches of the Canadian Legion, all of them doing extremely well; and it is proud of the red ensign. I have followed this debate with great interest and great emotion, as hon. members will understand. I have spoken to many people in Waterloo South about the flag, and their feelings regarding it. I think the people in Waterloo South recognized very early that Canada needed a new flag, a flag that would not be hyphenated, a flag that would not say "French Canada", "English Canada" or any other Canada, but only one Canada. I believe this parliament has accomplished that; we now have that flag.
The people in Waterloo South could have waited for a flag. They could have waited, because they were most reluctant to transfer their loyalty from the ensign that they love to another flag which they will learn to love. But I think it should be recognized by many of the members of this house that we could have waited. There are other members of this house who could not wait. We recognized that fact and as good Canadians we said they had real, just grievances and we were prepared to meet those grievances. I refer to the grievances of French Canada. I believe we have shown our willingness to do this. We now ask those French Canadian members of this house to recognize, much as we understood their feelings and the justice of their cause, that we have very strong and real feelings for the ensign.
We have heard them say that if another flag is necessary and there was a flag representing the world, this is the flag we should accept and honour rather than one which only recognizes our commonwealth relationships. When that day comes and that flag is ready to be accepted, a flag that represents the brotherhood of man, the universality of all people, I will be one of the first to vote for it if I am fortunate enough to be here. But until we reach that point it must be recognized that we do have a flag that means a great deal to us, a flag we have given up voluntarily on behalf of Canadian unity. I think that flag should be retained in our affection and on our flagpoles as a symbol and sign of our relationship with the British commonwealth.
It is my opinion and my feeling, and I think the feeling of many members of this house who voted on this matter, that if the red ensign is retained as a symbol of our relationship with the commonwealth, that connection with the past will go a long way toward recognizing and accepting the new flag. I would ask whether those members in this house who were so willing to ask for a new flag-and I was one of them-would be equally as willing to recognize the affection in which we hold the red ensign? If they are, then when the vote comes they will have an opportunity to heal the wounds, and we may yet reach a unanimous decision on the retention of the red ensign.
Topic: CANADIAN COMMONWEALTH FLAG
Subtopic: MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SEVENTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE