Mr. Speaker, in 1998 I had the privilege of putting forth Bill C-369 and Bill C-370 on this very subject. Unfortunately at that time it was deemed not a votable motion although I had the support of colleagues from other parties.
We can do nothing more important than recognize and promote our history. Two great Canadians, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, were both nation builders.
It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Clearly at the present time there is a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge of the history of the country. In four provinces Canadian history is not a mandatory course in high school. By recognizing Laurier and Macdonald we are recognizing and promoting for Canadians a sense of who we are as a nation.
We live in an era when our children have little appreciation for our roots. Professor Granatstein in his work Who Killed Canadian History comments on the fact that the knowledge of the country is fast disappearing. We have a very rich and a very powerful history. As a former educator who used to teach Canadian history I believe very strongly that these two days of recognition are essential.
We are one of the few countries in the world that does not recognize the contributions of its founders or those who helped to contribute to the nation: Sir John A . Macdonald's great vision of building the country from sea to sea, Laurier's great vision of expanding the country, and the great immigration drive that came in the late 1890s and 1900s to western Canada.
We have precedents. We have other days of recognition such as National Flag Day on February 15 and National Aboriginal Day on June 21. We have built educational programs around them so that Canadians can appreciate their history.
It is extremely important that we pass the bill to honour not just these two men but to make a statement as parliamentarians of our belief in and support for our history. We will be judged by not only what we do about issues today but by how we treat and respect our past.
I realize that my time is short but I hope on another occasion to have an opportunity to speak at some length to the significant contributions of these two great Canadians.