Evidence of meeting #20 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was flag.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

February 2nd, 2012 / 11:15 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Just so we're clear here, we're cutting essentially all of the wording for clause 2 and replacing that wording with this amendment, correct?

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Yes.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Okay.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Does that include paragraphs 2(a), 2(b), and 2(c)?

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Yes. Clause 2 is replaced by what you have in the proposed amendment. The changes to clause 2 become more apparent, I think, in conjunction with your amendment, which you will probably be making shortly, I assume. I suppose we're doing it somewhat backwards, but the amendment you're proposing, which I believe we're supporting, facilitates a need for us to change clause 2 to reflect that amendment, so that's what we're doing.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Pierre Nantel

Mr. Simms, do you have a comment?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Yes, I think we're going a little backwards here. I'll tell you why. It's because there is a fundamental change here in what we're talking about, which from the language I read here is encouragement, as opposed to the penalty factor of it. Also, as a witness Mr. Carmichael said in his speech that he certainly agrees with the amendments that are being made.

Can we hear from Mr. Carmichael first about the amendments in question? If he agrees that the amendments should go forward, I think he's the best salesperson for them.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Pierre Nantel

Does everyone agree with this proposition?

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

I do, but I just want to add that the amendments change the bill quite significantly. Mr. Carmichael spoke at length about this document we have here, which we've debated, so I agree that it would be worthwhile for us to understand the differences and have him explain them.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Pierre Nantel

Are you fine with that approach?

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

The committee will put forward amendments, and we have an opportunity to question Mr. Carmichael, but once we get into the phase of talking about amendments, I don't know that the witness will be able to answer in advance questions about the amendments we're debating. He might be able to talk about what he has heard the committee is bringing forward in terms of amendments, but I don't know that he has actually seen all of the amendments that we're proposing as a committee.

If we want to continue talking about this amendment later but first go into a round of seven minutes of questioning of the witness, why don't we do that? We could do a round of questioning each, and then if we need to ask more questions of the member, we could do that. We'll just put this amendment on hold for a bit while we hear from Mr. Carmichael and all three....

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Pierre Nantel

Thank you, Mr. Calandra.

I will follow my gut feeling here and propose--everybody is going to start scratching their heads--that we read all the amendments now.

No? Oh, I'm being advised by the clerk not to do so. They're scratching their heads. Just a second, please.

Our counsel recommend that we proceed as follows. As the amendments have already been circulated to all members, we will move to a 10-minute question period. If no one objects to that procedure, let's begin.

Mr. Young, you have the floor.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Carmichael, thank you for bringing this bill forward. I wonder if you could just summarize why you feel the bill is important.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

That really is at the hub of the entire exercise.

I've heard from Canadians from across the country who are being restricted from flying the flag. As I've said in the House in answer to many of your questions and in debates we've had in different environments, our flag is a symbol of our own national pride, and we all feel that. We're not here to debate that issue.

However, when Canadians are being restricted from flying the flag for whatever their pride level is, or their purpose, their history, whether they're veterans, new Canadians, or families who just feel great pride in this country and want to fly our flag, I don't think that's terribly Canadian.

This bill has been accused of a number of different things over the course of its short life. Let's keep in mind that, number one, it's a private member's bill. It was an issue that I heard about from Canadians over the course of my early tenure after being elected in May, and it struck me as absolutely and fundamentally wrong that people could intimidate, bully, or otherwise restrict Canadians from flying our flag. I felt it was something important that we as Canadians had to stand up for.

We believe in free speech. We believe in democracy. To that end, I think it's incumbent on us as parliamentarians to make a statement that all Canadians have the right to fly the flag any day of the year without bullying or intimidation.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Can you speak to your priorities for Don Valley West with regard to this bill?