House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe he is not the member who displayed the flag but it is in that same corner that the flag was displayed.

Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

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Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Order, please.

Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to contribute to this most important and emotional debate. I take pride in being a Canadian in a country where any so-called commoner can aspire to a legislative role. Two short years ago I held my breath with millions of others as Canada barely survived Quebec's referendum vote.

Today I take part in a debate about our flag, the symbol of our land. As with all that occurs in this honourable House, our contributions are made both with a view to the current benefit of Canadians and as a testament to our time and our history.

Be it 10, 20 or 50 years from now, students and scholars of Canadian history will read our words and interpret what has gone on here. We should always be mindful that every time we speak as members of this honourable House we contribute to the history of our nation.

I trust that the words of myself and my colleagues will be viewed in this light. I trust that my colleagues' expression of support will serve as a catalyst to do more to help break the bonds of apathetic Canadianism, to usher in a new found spirit of love for our country and its symbol, our flag.

Permission to display a small, aesthetically appropriate desk flag as we speak to the world and as we speak to history is all that is being requested. For those who wish, as I do, to have the choice to be identified with a flag in this way as we debate, why not?

For those who know why I strove to arrive in this House, they understand. For those who fought, spilled blood, lost friends on foreign lands for our great country in three wars, they understand. For millions who held their breath two years ago when the no side came through, they understand. For the 150,000 people who gathered in Montreal two days before the referendum, they too, understand. For the 2,000 people from all parts of Canada who gathered in Quebec City one year later, they also understand.

I wish Hansard to show how I see this debate. I want history to record my sentiments toward our flag and how our flag has been viewed in this debate, and the events leading up to it.

I speak to my hon. colleagues and to history as follows. How a nation views itself is a measure of its pride and self esteem. How a nation is viewed by the world is a reflection of its collective deeds. How a nation projects this image is through its national symbols.

Our nation is known throughout the world for its deeds in war and peace. Canada's symbol is its flag which floats over this very House. Our flag is the embodiment of our nation's heart and soul. Our flag is inseparable from our national will. This House must carefully ponder why my voice should be put to rest when the flag stands by my desk.

We wish to reflect our support. We choose to have a small flag on our desk for the country we represent, to identify our role.

I was privileged to have been elected to this House by the constituents of Edmonton East. I am privileged every day I am permitted to sit in this honourable House at this desk, a desk that shall never belong to me or any politician of the day but instead remains the property of my constituents.

It is with this sense of privilege that I express myself today. I am one of the parliamentarians who declined to remove the Canadian flag from his desk when requested to do so by the Deputy Speaker. In doing so, my privileges as a member were adversely affected. I was not recognized for the purpose of speaking.

Out of respect for the office of the Speaker and out of respect for the need of orderly regulation in this House, I did not protest further. I was saddened but I did not protest.

The Speaker now has ruled. It is out of respect for the office of the Speaker that I have removed my Canadian flag today. I am pleased to be able to participate in the debate to support a motion to allow my flag to return to my desk.

I wish to speak about respect for our Canadian flag and respect for our Canadian institutions, of this institution, this honourable House and the Supreme Court of Canada or any other through which our democracy is preserved and enhanced.

To my great sadness, I notice that the display of the Canadian flag has been regarded by the separatists in the House as a form of provocation. I notice, too, that the request to remove the flags from our desks came from a separatist. Provocation is a word used many time in the House, both today and last week, provocation by the Liberals and provocation by Reform. The simple fact is that this sad affair was started by the Liberals bringing flags into the House, exasperated by Bloc members wanting them to be removed.

Now closure has been effected by the Reform motion.

I have received many e-mails on this issue in the past three weeks. Almost every one of them has been supportive. Over and over again Canadians asked: How can it be provocation to fly the flag of our nation? Many of these grassroots Canadians suggested that if a member has a problem with the sight of the Canadian flag, perhaps he or she should look in the mirror for the source of the problem.

As I have indicated in my motion which is on the Notice Paper, the flag should not be considered to be offensive and should always be welcome in the House. I agree that it should not be used to suppress the rights of a fellow member, but the mere sight of the flag does not do that. It is a symbol of our commitment to our country.

For most of the history of this House there was not a Canadian flag present, until the efforts in 1973 of Alexandre Cyr, then the hon. member for Gaspé. Today that riding is represented by the Bloc. Representing his constituents, Mr. Cyr brought a flag to this House 25 years ago. Now there are two, twice as many as the 1973 motion allowed.

I am concerned that this flag debate is considered by some to be provocation and by others to be frivolous. Provocation is in the eye of the beholder. No provocation is intended in my contribution to today's debate, nor in my earlier actions. However, I must say that I certainly do not approach this debate with a sense of the frivolous.

Canada's problem is a deep-seated inferiority complex. Canadians have been uncomfortable with flag waving, celebrating our country and singing our national anthem. There is little hesitancy in other countries. The national pride, as exemplified by the waving of flags, is seen everywhere in England, France and the United States.

Let me provide the House with an example of how the display of flags, both in this House and elsewhere, is important to our future as a nation.

I recall a well published event which took place outside Montreal's city hall. Visitors from France spoke to Jacques Parizeau and a group of his separatist cohorts on the steps of the city hall. Many Quebec flags were visible. Where did the flags come from? From inside Montreal's city hall. What was the problem? There were several veterans present who wished to see the Canadian flag displayed before the delegation from France.

I was in Montreal that day on one of my frequent visits to the city. The veterans who I met that day were beside themselves with angst. To describe matters in a most charitable fashion, it appeared that the display of the Canadian flag had been very much discouraged at the time of the appearance of the visitors from France. France is free today, due in no small part to the efforts of our proud veterans.

Today I ask the House to allow the display of this symbol of our country when we speak in this honourable place. I want to show to all that our national symbol may sit with us in this honourable place as a symbol of how close it is to our hearts. When I speak to Canada, there is no flag visible to those who see and hear my words. I wish only to do as I did at the chamber of commerce meeting in Edmonton two weeks ago. I placed the flag of Canada on my table in that chamber. I would like to do likewise in this Chamber.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a passion filled debate today. I do not think for a second that members of the House should forget why we are here and what this is about.

I listened closely to the words of the hon. member and I have some serious problems and difficulties with where he was coming from and what exactly he was talking about. There are a number of people who are watching this debate who may not understand it. It is simply a question of respect and trust.

There is one group in the House of Commons, along with some members opposite, who wave the flag and use it as a type of sledgehammer to beat upon someone else who may not be willing to wave it. That is why we do not have flags on our desks. That is why there are flags beside the Speaker.

This is not about the Canadian flag; this is about a waste of time. We are wasting the Canadian taxpayers' time to debate whether we should have flags on our desks.

I want to add another point. We are listening to talk about the flag today. On February 15, 1995, the leader of the member's party was the guy who stated that the debate over the Canadian flag on Canada's flag day at that time was frivolous and a waste of time.

You don't wear the flag—

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Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Excuse me. I would remind members to address other members through the Chair. It tends to keep the tempers in control.

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1:55 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is missing the whole point of this issue. The point of this issue is that we are in the television era. We are in an era where I can speak here and I can speak directly to the constituents in Edmonton East.

As I view the TV camera and if I am speaking in my critic area of veterans' affairs or some other important issues, there is nothing visible here to say where I am from. If I wish to have a Canadian flag on my desk which would help indicate my loyalty to the flag and to the country when I speak on veterans' affairs issues, I think it is important.

I specifically wish to have this flag on my desk.

Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Scarborough Centre has about a minute.

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Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is funny that the Reform Party which came here after the 1993 election, four years down the road has just discovered where it is from. I am surprised why its members did not put on a flag in 1993 when they first got elected.

The point I want to make is this. They talk about the flag and the pins. I happened to be in Nagano during the olympics. I want, for a moment, to tell this House what the member from Rimouski—Mitis did.

She was very proud to give out the Canadian pins, one that I wear today. She was very proud to wave the Canadian flag celebrating our athletes. I do not see their Canadian olympic pin being worn.

My point when they talk about a form of provocation, was the member for Rimouski—Mitis provoking when she was handing out the pins, when she was waving the flags celebrating our athletes? I do not think so.

Many people have said to me what has taken the Reform Party so long to discover that they want to display the flag? In the opinion of my constituents, the flag is best suited right on each side of your honourable chair.

In the many parliaments that we have visited, we have not seen members displaying flags on their desks. I see no reason why we have to do that now. They are best presented right where you are.

Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member opposite is forgetting what I just said in my speech. I will repeat it.

The simple fact is that this sad affair was started by the Liberals bringing flags into this House. They were exasperated by the Bloc and wanted them removed. Now the Reform Party is affecting closure on it by bringing forth this motion.

Glammis Flyers Broomball Team
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that there are two reasons for me being on my feet today. First, I am happy to inform the House of the notable achievement of a group of individuals from my riding.

Huron—Bruce is home to, among other places, the small hamlet of Glammis. Although the small population may not place Glammis into the category of a major metropolitan centre, what the citizenry lacks in numbers they more than make up for in spirit.

As a result of that determination, next month the Glammis Flyers Broomball Team is destined for the National Men's Broomball Championships in Regina.

This brings me to my second reason for rising today. At the risk of sounding a little boastful, I am pleased to inform the House that the Glammis Flyers last year won the prestigious Ontario Broomball Championship, defeating teams from Barrie, Teviotdale, Arthur and Ottawa. They were all casualties of the Flyers as they steamed along the road to the national championships.

If the success of the past 50 years is any indication of what lies ahead for the Glammis Flyers, I am confident that they will once again be victorious. I wish the entire team all the best in their endeavours.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

March 17th, 1998 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the homeowners in Clydesdale Estates, in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, face yet another year of uncertainty.

They are caught in the middle of a legal battle between the Tsarlip Indian Band and the department of Indian affairs. The department, on behalf of the band, negotiated and signed a lease to allow a residential development on band lands. This same band is now suing the department over this lease.

To voice its protest over this development, the band unilaterally elected to cut off the sewer main between the development and the municipality.

This has had a devastating impact on the residents of Clydesdale Estates. They have seen the value of their homes decline and some have been forced to abandon their homes and declare bankruptcy. I would remind members that this is no laughing matter. These people are in a crisis situation. They have put their entire savings into these homes.

Over a year ago they went to the minister for help and she told them to be patient. Would she wait this long?

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Erie—Lincoln.

Malnutrition
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year the focus of the United Nations Children's Fund, commonly known as UNICEF, is on child malnutrition.

Malnutrition is a world problem. It is an invisible killer which affects 800 million children annually. Incredibly and sadly, more than half of child deaths worldwide can be attributed to malnutrition. This is unmatched by any other infectious disease since the black death and, further, those who survive are usually left vulnerable to infectious disease, illness and intellectual disability.

The right to nutrition is a matter of international law. Agreements such as the 1989 convention on the rights of the child, ratified by 191 countries including Canada, recognized the right of all children to have the highest attainable standards of health, including the right to good nutrition.

I urge the Government of Canada to support UNICEF and honour the provisions of our international declarations by helping overcome this silent killer of the world's children. Action against malnutrition is both imperative and possible. No child should be hungry in this world of plenty. No child should be hungry in Canada.

Semaine Nationale De La Francophonie
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is the Semaine de la francophonie. As the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, I have had the opportunity to meet many francophones from outside Quebec who are proud of their culture.

I encourage all French-speaking Canadians, and Franco-Ontarians in particular, to be proud of their language and culture.

Yesterday in Barrie I joined members of the club Richelieu in raising the Franco-Ontarian flag at city hall to celebrate this week and their Franco-Ontarian communities.

Being a member of La Francophonie allows Canada to convey to the rest of the world a spirit of understanding and respect for diversity.

I encourage all Franco-Ontarians and indeed all Canadians to be proud of their culture and their language.