Mr. Stan Schumacher (Palliser):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to review for a few moments the history of the continuing campaign to destroy the heritage and symbols of this country of which we are so proud, Canada. This has occurred over the years I have been privileged to represent the people of Palliser in this chamber.
In 1970 Mr. James Brown, then the hon. member for Brant, the great grandson of George Brown, one of the Fathers of Confederation, introduced a similar bill. When it was sent to the justice and legal affairs committee, some interesting things happened. I was a member of the committee at that time. After hearing from Dr. Eugene Forsey, now Senator Forsey, a great and learned gentleman, the committee decided it would not accept the term Canada Day. It passed an amendment to the bill calling for a change in name from Dominion Day to Confederation Day. I am not here this afternoon to promote Confederation Day. I am here to promote the maintenance of Dominion Day, a proud and glorious name for the anniversary of the birthday of this great nation.
I wish to refer to an editorial in the Calgary Herald for Saturday, March 14, 1970, nine years tomorrow, headed "Desecration". I quote from the article:
Erosion of those historic traditions which gave Canada its distinctive character continues at a rapid pace.
It is now nine years later and the prediction of the Herald on that occasion has not been as they thought. The editorial continues:
Now there are people in Ottawa's governing circles who wish to expunge the term Dominion from living memory, even though it was conferred as title upon this nation more than a century ago and was made binding by usage and custom thereafter.
Mr. James Brown, a Liberal MP from Brant, Ontario, has a bill before the Commons' justice committee which would change the name of Canada's national birthday from Dominion Day to Canada Day. It would further distort history and pervert it to the use of nothing more than holiday convenience by having it fall on the first Monday in July, rather than on its legitimate date of July 1.
With this sort of thing going on during the past several years, it is small wonder that many older Canadians are wondering what is happening to their country and many younger Canadians are growing up not caring about it in the least.
Dr. Eugene Forsey, a political scientist, pointed out to the committee that the title Dominion is entrenched in the British North America Act, the nation's constitution. In other words, it is law. Not that this means very much to parliamentarians any more, considering acts that they pass which are of extremely doubtful constitutional validity.
The committee, making one of those empty gestures toward public opinion which have become commonplace of late, decided to postpone further consideration of the bill until after Easter. This would allow the public to comment upon the idea.
If participatory democracy follows its established course, no one will pay the slightest attention to what the Canadian people may think and another act of vandalism against the country's honorable heritage will be perpetrated.
Canadians used to sneer at the Russian Communists for rewriting history, making the past conform to present political expediency. Canadians need laugh no longer at others when they contemplate what is being done to their own past history. They can only weep.
Those words were written nine years ago tomorrow but, as far as I am concerned, the situation could not be more aptly expressed than it was in that editorial.
The effort by the government to change the name continued. In May of 1972 the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) told us he hoped to have legislation passed in time for July 1 of that year. That came to naught. In 1975, another effort was made; fortunately, it too, failed. In 1977 the government again introduced legislation to change the name. The Secretary of State (Mr. Roberts) stated in correspondence that he was trying to respond to the views of certain Canadians. He never told us who they were, though; there has never been an adequate explanation of the need for this change. I have to say I received many letters on that occasion in opposition to such a change, some of them from young children. I received a petition from six-year old, seven-year old, and eight-year old children attending the J. K. Malloy school in Calgary saying, "Please, Mr. Roberts, keep the name 'Dominion Day' because it means something to us."
What concerns me more than anything else is the fact that the government frequently violates the law of the land, for example, by allowing the CBC-I might even say encouraging it-to use the words "Canada Day" on every occasion upon which it refers to the birthday of this country on July 1. The
March 13, 1979
CBC should be using the term "Dominion Day", the legal name for that day.
It disturbs me to find the government constantly trying to subvert the law when it lacks the gumption to change that law.
1 hope that if this bill receives its just desserts it will go to the bottom of the order paper and remain there until the end of this parliament. I trust there will be no move to revive it by unanimous consent, no sneaky tactics for bringing it back again, and that we shall see the end of it. For nine years this measure has encountered concerted opposition. There is no real feeling in the House in favour of passing it. I hope this business will stop and that the government will respect the law and ask the CBC to use the proper term in the future for our nation's birthday.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic: HOLIDAYS ACT