Mr. Speaker, I rise because I represent Canada's first incorporated city by royal charter, Saint John, New Brunswick. We date back to 1783. We are not a republic. The head of state for Canada, and Saint John, is Her Majesty the Queen.
I have great respect for the hon. member who has put forward the motion. However when we take our oath, we refer to Queen Elizabeth II who is Canada's head of state. Therefore we are taking our oath to Canada.
On October 12, 2002, my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, when speaking against Bill C-219 at that time, stated his personal view that we should embrace our link to Great Britain, to our very origins and embrace the oath to the Queen. He said that we should embrace the fact that the Queen had continued in a very diligent and forthright way the lineage and connection to our country. As a Canadian, I feel very proud to continue this. When I take the oath and refer to Her Majesty, I definitely feel I am taking the oath to Canada, and I am proud to do it.
I know the hon. member is saying that he wants to add more to it. He is not saying that he wants to take that portion of the oath out. However now we are dividing it because she is our head of state.
I have met Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Her Majesty, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, all of the royal family. I have been in their company. They love Canada. I will never forget the hurtful comments by the Deputy Prime Minister on the Queen's visit to Canada. I was so very much ashamed. I felt so saddened when he made them.
I am sure all of us will remember Queen Elizabeth II's state visit to Canada last fall and the response of Canadians to her and to Prince Philip as well. The Duke of Edinburgh was truly amazing. Whether it was in the north, the west, central Canada or the east, the response was the same, welcoming communities, warm hearts, joyful crowds and thankful Canadians.
Queen Elizabeth II, who has served in her capacity as Queen of the commonwealth for over 50 years, has served us and served us well. We all know, with her diligence, steadfastness and unwaivering hand, we are a very special country in this world. Our Queen has been a role model for Canadians and the whole world. As such, we as a nation are blessed for her leadership and guidance.
I stated earlier that I had great respect for the hon. member who has put forth this private member's bill. However I want the hon. member to know that when we take our oath, we take our oath to Canada through the head of state of Canada.
One major concern I have is that just recently we took reference to Her Majesty out of the oath for the public servants. Public servants no longer take the oath to Her Majesty. Not that the hon. member is saying this, but before we know it, we will not be taking our oath either. Some tried before in the House of Commons to take out the oath to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. I worry about that.
There are two parts of the oath, one that has existed since 1867 and the one that is being proposed today. They seem to be part of almost the same package, reaffirming essentially the same sentiment.
What is particularly important in our actions as members of Parliament is that we act in conformity with the norms that govern the behaviour of members of Parliament and that we act in a spirit that conforms with the constitution of the country.
I think there is a danger that members of either the federal or provincial houses can act in a manner that is in contempt of their oath. The important thing is we must always remember the substance of our oath of office.
As I said earlier, I represent Canada's first incorporated city, Saint John, New Brunswick and I am truly proud of that. Who worked to build this wonderful country? It was our francophone people, our anglophone people, our aboriginal people, we all built it.
It is an honour and a privilege to be a member of Parliament and sit in the House of Commons. When I look at the top of your chair, Mr. Speaker, and its insignia, some of it represents Her Majesty and some of it represents Quebec. We should be very proud to stand in the House of Commons and take our oath.
I also belong to the Monarchist League of Canada, a group which tries to ensure that Her Majesty receives the respect that she deserves.
When I read Bill C-408, I asked myself what she would say. She was just here in October. She did not receive the respect that she should have, not only from the Deputy Prime Minister but from some others. If we were to divide the oath, it would say to her that we felt she was no longer the head of state of Canada. When we take our oath, we swear allegiance to the Queen: “Faithful and bear Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”.
I cannot believe we would get into this kind of debate in the House of Commons of Canada once again. We are here to work for all our people no matter in which province they live. We have the Governor General, who represents Her Majesty. We have Lieutenant-Governors in every province in Canada who also represents Her Majesty, and they do it with dignity.
If we pass this bill, the next thing we know we will not have a Governor General representing Her Majesty. We will be looking at a different organization altogether down the road.
The hon. member who proposed the motion is an honourable member. He used to sit right across from me. He always encouraged me. In fact both those members who sit side by side always encouraged me, and I have such great respect for both of them. However I am very worried because we have some members who do not want to take an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty. That oath of allegiance must be there. When we take that oath, we take an oath of allegiance to Canada as a whole, through Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.