Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les Patriotes, BQ)
Madam Speaker, I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate my position toward the standpoint of the British Crown in relation to the deportation of the Acadians, which happened in the middle of the 18th century, as well as the apparent laissez-faire of the current Canadian government on this issue.
At the outset, I would like to state, just as the Minister of Canadian Heritage did, that the Royal Proclamation of December 9, 2003 is a historical gesture that was welcome. However, whereas the government seems to feel that it is sufficient, that it is now time to turn the page, to take the next call, I am with those who argue otherwise. Although I have said so many times in this House, allow me to state it again.
It is not incumbent on Canada, nor even on the Canadian crown, to apologize or, simply, to acknowledge the harm inflicted on the Acadian people due to the deportation, as Canada as we know it today did not yet exist when the horrors the Acadians had to endure were perpetrated.
It is the authority on behalf of which these reprehensible acts were perpetrated, namely the British Crown—this same authority that must at least accept the moral responsibility for these tragic events—that has to do what needs to be done in these circumstances. This solemn act must not be performed by the Governor General of Canada, but by the Queen herself.
In that regard, Her Majesty made an official visit to Canada a few days ago. Since she does not come to our country very often, would it not have been possible for her to add a short stop on Acadian soil to her visits to Saskatchewan and Alberta? I am sure it would have.
However, it is obvious that the government chose to turn a deaf ear to the pressing demands from many stakeholders asking that the British Crown recognize the prejudice caused to the Acadian people during these terrible events, which destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent people. Instead, the government decided that all the focus had to be on one presumably happy chapter in Canadian history, namely the 100th anniversary of the entry of two provinces into the Canadian federation, thus avoiding subjecting the Queen to a darker, less glorious anniversary, but one just as important in the history of the peoples who built Canada and the entire American continent, namely the 250th anniversary of the deportation of Acadians by British authorities.
Interestingly enough, this anniversary seems important enough that Canadian Heritage is funding activities to recognize it, but not enough to bring it to the attention of the British Crown, on behalf of which these acts were committed, making this sad commemoration necessary today.
The minister should agree with me that it would have been logistically easy and humanly beneficial to put this side trip on Her Majesty's agenda. It would undoubtedly have been disturbing for the Crown, but so much hoped for, noble and significant for all Acadians, including for the descendants of those unfortunate people who were deported and scattered here and there around the world.
It would have been so simple for the sovereign of both Canada and the United Kingdom to espouse the terms of the Canadian royal proclamation and to recognize, in her capacity as the British Crown, that a reprehensible and highly cruel act was committed against some of the subjects of one of her predecessors, in flagrant violation of the provisions of the Magna Carta .
Let us keep in mind that those who were deprived of their property and forced into ramshackle boats, while their homes were torched before their very eyes, were essentially resourceful farmers who only wanted to live in peace in North America.
Did we just miss that long awaited historical opportunity? I am afraid so. However, I still believe that, if the Minister of Canadian Heritage and this government would put as much effort into pleading this noble cause before their sovereign as they do to clinging to power and defending their forever tainted integrity, Her Majesty, who is said to be very wise, would certainly grant this humble request from her loyal subjects.
Topic: Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic: Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act