An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day)


Colin Fraser  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday.‍


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 21, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day)

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2016 / 11:40 a.m.
See context


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand today and speak to this particular bill, Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act, Remembrance Day.

It has been a real honour for me to serve on the Veterans Affairs committee and serve as deputy critic for Veterans Affairs, especially as a first-time member of Parliament, and to be a part of standing up for our veterans and making sure their needs are understood and met by this House, and understood by the Canadian population as a whole. Of course, this is basically a symbolic gesture, but it is important to do what we can to make sure that Remembrance Day is recognized and continues to be recognized throughout the years forward, even though so many of the veterans who were part of World War I and World War II are at an age that makes it very difficult for them to be able to attend and be part of the ceremonies. In Yorkton this year, it was just so overwhelming for me to see the veterans make the huge effort that it takes to be there and be part of that ceremony, and to stand even though it is so difficult to stand and make sure that this is not forgotten. Regardless of the approach that we take, the important thing is that we do remember.

The fact that it is at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is very fitting. From our veterans and being part of different ceremonies, we start to realize how important these special traditions are to our veterans and to our armed forces as well. I recently attended the 64th field battery 10th field artillery regiment, Saint Barbara celebration in my home city of Yorkton with our reservists there. It was something to listen and to learn about why they take each of the steps they do during that celebration. It is all part of building up that community and making sure we value each other as reservists. That is one example where I say we need to make sure that, whatever approach we take as a legislature in our communities, the total focus is on valuing our veterans and keeping that in front of other generations as they come forward.

My grandson was born on November 11. It is a very special day to him, and he always says, “Grandma, the first half of the day is very sad”, and he talks about Remembrance Day and they always go to and are part of the services. He says, “And then the second half of the day is very happy”. I thought that was something that he is being taught the value of the individuals who stood up for Canada to keep it as the free country that it is today, and it is very much a part of his psyche. I thought that was very special.

I also had the opportunity as a new member of Parliament to attend the Battle of the Atlantic gala, and attend the ceremonies on Parliament Hill. Again, members of the regiments, the cadets, the reserves, and the navy were all there on time ready to start this event. It was so bitter cold outside. I was sitting out on the lawn waiting for this to start, and I was beyond cold. I think I was as cold as I have ever been in my life, and thinking, “I do not think I am going to make it”. Then I looked across the grounds, and there were 80- and 90-something year-old veterans sitting there waiting for the event to happen. It was pouring rain, but they were sitting there with their jackets on. They were not putting on their caps or carrying their umbrellas until the very last moment. They were choosing to sit there and persevere through the cold. When I put that together with the battle gala and saw the pictures, I saw that these elderly men were the same men who were so young on those ships getting the supplies across the Atlantic. Seeing the pictures of them caked in ice is what got me through the event, and just made me so proud in my heart to be a part of that particular celebration.

There are army cadet reviews, and opportunities when we go home to our riding to be a part of those celebrations as well.

It is really important that we do whatever we can to make sure we are recognizing everything our veterans have done for us. We have to make sure that within our school systems, they are learning about the different battles and the amazing things Canadians have done.

I just learned that our soldiers had to take on the Battle of Vimy Ridge after France had lost 200,000 men on that hill and Britain had lost 100,000. Our troops came together for the first time as Canadians from across the country, put their heads together, and devised what they would do. They ended up laying out the whole battlefield behind them to practice what was ahead of them. How did they do this? Our young aboriginal soldiers went out in the dead of night and basically mapped out the whole area. We were able to go forward and win that battle, starting at five in the morning and ending at noon.

We have so much to be proud of as Canadians because of our veterans and armed forces. I know that in Afghanistan, the question was asked of the Taliban, “Do you fear western forces?” They said, “No, except the Canadians”. That says so much about our armed forces.

That being said, it is very important that we do these things to celebrate, commemorate, and remember. We fall short if we do not do everything we can as legislators in this House and on the committee, which I am on, to make sure that we are truly caring for our armed forces when they transition to the veteran's life. We need to do whatever we can to make sure that the transition is as painless as possible and that they are recognized for what they have done. They sacrifice their families, their own choices, and their own decision-making to become part of the armed forces. They stand side by side and serve for us, then come back to the very difficult circumstance of transitioning to civilian life.

It is a pleasure to serve on that committee. There are many things we are working on with our report, and I am certainly hopeful that the government will do everything it can to look at the recommendations from us, and from the two ombudsmen, to make sure that we are doing everything we can to close that seam and deal with circumstances that have been left hanging for a very long time.

One of those is the issue of mefloquine and how it impacted our soldiers in Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and other battlefields. There are a number of heartbreaking stories coming from veterans who have lived with the results of this and are not being recognized for having suffered from what this actually is. It is not just PTSD. It is a brain injury as well. Our government needs to recognize that this particular anti-malaria drug is not being used by the rest of the world.

We are falling behind in making some of the decisions that say to our veterans that they are important to us and that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are cared for in the way they should be.

We talk about caring about our veterans and about how much we want to recognize them but then do not do what needs to be done. This does not mean huge changes. It means simply putting things in place to ensure that veterans do not end up more ill after coming home because of the stress of getting settled in their new civilian lives.

One of the things we heard over and over again was about family life and how difficult it is for the other parent and the children to deal with the challenges of being an armed forces family and a veteran's family. We need to be there to support them in taking care of the soldier who has come home.

We need to tell our veterans that they really matter to us and that they matter to us every day of the year, from the moment they sign up with our forces right up to when they retire or have to quit because of an injury. We need to put real meat on these things. I am not making light of that at all. We need to commemorate what they have done for us.

There is another issue we are all facing right now, which is medical marijuana. Veterans are concerned about the fact that the government is considering legalizing marijuana for recreational use. They are concerned about how this would dumb down the importance of it as a medical prescription. I regularly hear stories about how this is replacing pharmaceuticals for so many veterans, with far fewer side effects, and about improvements in dealing with their pain so they can get on with their lives. It is not costing us anywhere near what it costs to have them on pharmaceuticals.

Those are just some issues that come to mind when I think about commemorating our veterans. We certainly want to do this. I am so proud to have a role as deputy critic, to be involved in specific instances in my riding, and to be part of making decisions that are good for them.

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

December 5th, 2016 / 11:55 a.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to give my right of reply with regard to the debate that has taken place on my private member's bill, Bill C-311.

I want to thank all the members who participated in the debate on my private member's bill. I want to acknowledge the members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs I have served with who have presented their points of view on this bill. I am so pleased to have worked with them on that committee to make sure that we are continuing to honour the service of those brave men and women who have served our country, past and present, and that we are doing the right things to honour their service.

I think we can all agree on the importance of Remembrance Day in Canada. We also share the desire to ensure that we are appropriately honouring those brave Canadians in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My bill is a modest measure that seeks to change the language in the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday and to ensure that consistency of language is reflected in the act. This bill would ensure consistency with both Canada Day and Victoria Day in the Holidays Act and would elevate the status of Remembrance Day to put it on an equal footing with those other days.

Some have expressed that this provision would do more than that. Let me be clear that my bill, by adding the word “legal”, would not impact the Canada Labour Code, which establishes the policy on non-working days for holidays. Federally speaking, the day is already and will remain a federal paid non-working day.

Furthermore, and I want to be very clear on this point, it is up to each province and territory to determine whether Remembrance Day on November 11 is a statutory holiday or a day off in their jurisdiction. This is what determines whether there is no school and whether it is a public paid non-working day.

This bill does not and cannot make Remembrance Day a national holiday, because it is not within the purview of Parliament to do so. I am hoping that this bill may provide an occasion for the provinces and territories that do not already do so to determine whether Remembrance Day should indeed be a statutory holiday.

I note that some of my colleagues in the debate have mentioned that the bill would not make it a statutory holiday, and it cannot, but what it can do is elevate the day, put it on an equal footing, and hopefully provide an occasion for those jurisdictions that do not already do so to allow it to be a statutory day.

There are examples of other jurisdictions that do not mark the day as a so-called statutory holiday, but they mark the solemn occasion in other ways. For example, in my home province of Nova Scotia, it is separate from other statutory holidays, but it is kept in force under the Remembrance Day Act to ensure that people have time off to attend ceremonies. I would like to see this across the country, but of course, our Constitution requires that we respect the jurisdiction of provinces in this regard.

I want to address one issue that has been brought up by some who oppose the bill, which is the argument that students should be in school on November 11 to ensure that they are marking the day and reflecting on what November 11 at 11 a.m. means for our country. I respect their point of view. However, in my experience in Nova Scotia, and I believe in most places in Canada, it is far more meaningful for the students to learn the importance of Remembrance Day and the sacrifices of our forces in the days leading up to November 11.

Veterans come into the schools during Veterans' Week, and in addition to the teaching, there is also a remembrance service in schools, which veterans attend. Of course, if these were marked on November 11 at 11 a.m., veterans marking the occasion with the community could not attend those school services. However, if students had time off, they could mark November 11 in the community with veterans at their public ceremonies. We have seen increasing attendance, including by children and their families, in Nova Scotia.

I believe that all Canadians should be able to have the same experience and that all veterans should have the opportunity to be publicly appreciated for their service and remembered on November 11 at a collective experience with the whole community.

As I mentioned in my speech to begin this debate, proposed subsections 3(2) and 3(3) are not at all essential to my intent in raising the profile of Remembrance Day. Since I now recognize that those are problematic provisions, I support their removal at committee, and I will be asking the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for their removal if the bill is sent to it following a debate at second reading. We should therefore turn our minds to just proposed subsection 3(1) of this bill.

As my final words in this debate on Bill C-311, while the bill of course is about November 11, I am sure that we all agree that we must show respect to our veterans and members of Canadian Forces throughout the year and honour them in our words and our deeds.

As we come into the holiday season, let us keep them and their families top of mind and always show them extra kindness and warmth for all that they do for our country.

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

November 2nd, 2016 / 6:30 p.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

moved that Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-311, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day). At the outset, I would like to express my thanks for the work done on similar bills in previous Parliaments, most recently by former New Democrat MP Dan Harris, in the 41st Parliament, but before that by former Conservative MP Inky Mark and former NDP MP Chris Charlton.

In the last Parliament, in November 2014, Dan Harris's bill passed second reading in the House with near unanimous support. The 41st Parliament ended before the bill could be voted on at third reading.

The bill changes the wording and status of Remembrance Day in the federal Holidays Act by making it a legal holiday, like Canada Day and Victoria Day. It is intended that this amendment will correct the Holidays Act, which currently has different language for Remembrance Day than the language used for Canada Day and Victoria Day. I believe that it is important to fix this inconsistency and properly recognize Remembrance Day in our federal legislation as a legal holiday.

More than simply correcting this inconsistency, however, I believe it is important that we continuously examine how we as Canadians remember the sacrifice of our fallen heroes and honour the service of past and present Canadian Forces members. In so doing, I am hoping that the bill will start a conversation across Canada about whether we are doing enough to appropriately recognize Remembrance Day.

Personally, I believe that it would be appropriate for Remembrance Day to be a statutory holiday in every province and territory in Canada so that it is marked from coast to coast to coast as a national holiday and a day of solemn remembrance. However, I completely respect that it is not within the purview of Parliament to enact such a law, and of course, the bill does not do so.

Nevertheless, I believe that if the bill is passed and our Parliament reinforces in this way the importance of November 11, it can give the provinces that do not already do so a good opportunity to revisit whether they want to mark Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday in their jurisdictions.

Bringing this forward makes us pause to reflect on why Remembrance Day is so important. Canadians are rightly proud of their country. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful, diverse, and free society. We must never take for granted everything we are blessed with in Canada. We are 36 million people, but we are less than one-half of one per cent of the world's population, and we are so very fortunate to live here.

Our beautiful and peaceful country did not happen by luck. It was built by those who have gone before us, those who protected and defended our liberties, values, and rights, those who have served in our Canadian Forces.

Remembrance Day is on November 11, because that is the day in 1918 when the guns fell silent and the Great War ended. It has come to symbolize, mark, and solemnly remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country. From Ypres, Flanders Fields, and Vimy Ridge in World War I, to Dieppe, Italy, Normandy, and the Pacific in World War II, to Korea, peacekeeping missions, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan, along with other conflicts in tormented places around the world, our brave men and women have made us proud. We continue to honour them and the sacrifices of others who have gone before them. It is right that a grateful country such as Canada pays tribute and remembers our fallen.

For decades, Remembrance Day has given us an opportunity to gather together and pay tribute to all those who died while serving our country and to recognize the courage of current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

All too often, we take for granted our values, institutions, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and right to make our own political choices without fear of reprisal. Our veterans, including many Acadians in my region, went to war overseas because they believed that the values and beliefs that we still share as Canadians were threatened. They were determined to protect, at all costs, vulnerable populations who were being oppressed by radical ideologists.

Remembrance Day reminds us of the importance of preserving this sense of freedom that our heroes wanted to protect and of our responsibility to keep the peace for which they fought.

Growing up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Remembrance Day was instilled in me to be a solemn day. My family always went to the cenotaph on Main Street for 11 o'clock on November 11. There were a lot of people who did so.

However, I must say that it is encouraging to see that the numbers of those attending such ceremonies right across my riding, all across Nova Scotia, and indeed, across Canada, have been increasing over the last number of years.

The main Remembrance Day ceremony in Yarmouth is now in the Mariners Centre, a hockey arena that is more accommodating of the large crowd and also for the many veterans who have mobility issues and cannot attend at the cenotaph. The cenotaph still has an excellent ceremony and there are a lot of people who attend at each place. I look forward to attending the Mariners Centre this year in order to share the occasion with many veterans from my area and also many citizens who will be there to mark the solemn occasion.

As important as these ceremonies are on November 11, I will never forget the veterans who would come into my school, when I was a child, in the days leading up to November 11. They would tell us their stories of sacrifice and valour, but also in their message was pride for our country and their love of peace over war. It touched me profoundly to see their emotion when talking about the horrors of war and about the terrible loss of a comrade. I believe these stories need to be taught throughout the year to our young people. However, it is at this time of year, in particular, near Remembrance Day, that they are especially poignant and meaningful.

A few years after high school, I was extremely fortunate to be selected to work as a tour guide at Vimy Ridge, France. The Canadian monument at Vimy and its place in our country's history are awe-inspiring. My time at Vimy Ridge and learning the history of Canadians who fought there reinforced, in my mind, the significant debt of gratitude our country owes to our forces and to our veterans.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought in April 1917, and in only a few short months, we will be marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It is significant that it is also in the year Canada will be celebrating its 150th anniversary as a country, as Vimy Ridge was the first time that Canadians from across our country fought together, shoulder to shoulder, as a cohesive formation and achieved a remarkable victory. Many believe that out of this event with its success but tragic loss, Canada's national identity and nationhood were born.

As members of Parliament, we will each be returning to our ridings next week and on Friday of next week, November 11, will be attending Remembrance Day ceremonies and events.

I know that there are many activities planned throughout my riding of West Nova throughout the whole day. Last year, I had the pleasure to attend the moving Remembrance Day ceremony at Kingston, Nova Scotia, and visited various events throughout the Annapolis Valley, home to 14 Wing Greenwood. I am so privileged to represent those members of the Canadian Forces and also the veterans who have contributed so richly to my community.

Like many of my colleagues, I will also be attending ceremonies in the days leading up to November 11. For example, on November 8, at the Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School, and on November 10, at Meadowfield elementary school, I will be attending Remembrance Day ceremonies with students and staff, as well as veterans, to honour and share in solemn remembrance those who have sacrificed so much for Canada.

In many schools next week, it is in fact marked as Remembrance Day week. Students learn about the history of our men and women in service to Canada and pause to reflect on their sacrifice. These are just a couple of the many ways that Remembrance Day is marked at schools in West Nova and in the days leading up to November 11. It is encouraging to know many young people will also attend Remembrance Day ceremonies with their families on November 11, or perhaps as part of the memorial club in Yarmouth, whose young members throughout the year, but particularly on Remembrance Day, demonstrate their pride in Canada and gratitude for our veterans.

I am very pleased that many veterans in West Nova and across Canada are supporting the bill. They believe, as I do, that it is important to draw attention to the significance of Remembrance Day.

One of the legions in my riding is the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 155 in Wedgeport, Nova Scotia. Over the past several months, I have been fortunate enough to attend two different ceremonies, where a member of a branch has been received into the French Legion of Honour for their incredible service and as a sign of France's respect for their contributions to the combat that led to the liberation of France in World War II.

Bernard Smith and Vernon Doucette joined two other members of the Wedgeport legion, Alcide LeBlanc and Wesley Spinney, in receiving the French Legion of Honour for their part in the liberation of France. Western Nova Scotia is very proud of these four gentlemen and their service to Canada in the cause of freedom. It is, indeed, very special that one small legion branch has four such heroes who have been recognized in this significant way.

There are so many other stories like theirs across my riding and across our country. We honour their sacrifices and living legacies, and also remember the many men and women who have donned a Canadian Forces uniform in our history, who did not return home, and who did not have the chance to have us thank them for their valiant and brave service to Canada.

As it relates to the bill, in addition to modifying the language to make Remembrance Day a federal legal holiday and have the same status in the Holidays Act as Canada Day, the bill also purports to do two other things.

First, subclause 3(2) provides that if November 11 falls on a weekend, similar language to that of Canada Day be used to make the following Monday a holiday.

Second, subclause 3(3) provides that on Remembrance Day, the Canadian flag on the Peace Tower shall be lowered to half mast.

Upon reflection and consultation with my colleagues, I realize that both of these provisions are, unfortunately, problematic. I am, therefore, very open to these provisions being deleted from the bill by amendment at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, where the bill will be referred to should it pass a vote in the House after second reading. In fact, I am very happy to propose them directly to the committee if this is to be done.

The main objective of the bill and the motivation I had in putting it forward in the first place is not furthered by either of these provisions.

Let us, in this 42nd Parliament, do what is right. Let us recognize Remembrance Day as a federal legal holiday, put it on the same level in the Holidays Act as Canada Day and Victoria Day. We can also provide the occasion to the provinces that do not already recognize Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday to revisit how Remembrance Day is observed in their jurisdiction.

From McRae's famous poem that echoes through the ages:

To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Let us then do our duty and not break faith with those who have died for Canada. Let us do all we can to ensure we honour their sacrifice. I believe Bill C-311, in a modest way, would help in that cause, and that is why I ask for the support of my colleagues.

I ask all Canadians right across our country to please show their respect for our veterans and our fallen, wear a poppy, and attend a Remembrance Day ceremony next week.

Lest we forget.

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

November 2nd, 2016 / 6:50 p.m.
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John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of the great residents of Barrie—Innisfil as the official opposition critic for veterans affairs.

My colleague from West Nova and I have had many discussions over the course of the last several weeks since I assumed this position. I believe he is very sincere in his attempt to raise the relevance and the prominence of Remembrance Day in this country.

That being said, there are some issues with this bill that I will be outlining throughout the course of my speech.

I want to thank the member for Beauport—Limoilou who was the previous opposition critic for veterans affairs for the work he did, and the work he has helped me with in the transition, as well as the member for Durham, the previous minister of veterans affairs. I really appreciate the fact that they have taken me under their wing, and have guided me on many of the issues with respect to veterans.

I am pleased to speak to Bill C-311, which is an act to amend the Holidays Act for Remembrance Day. I commend the hon. member for West Nova for his work on this bill, and recognize his work on behalf of the men and women of our armed forces.

Veterans week is only days away, and the annual poppy campaign by the Royal Canadian Legion is now underway with thousands of veterans and volunteers around this country sitting in grocery stores, community halls, shopping malls, and so many other places.

Last week, I had the pleasure of supporting the Montgomery Legion, located just blocks from Parliament Hill, to kick-off their poppy campaign. Money raised from the sale of poppies stays in the community and supports our vets close to home. That was a very important message that the Montgomery Legion wanted me to bring to the House today.

What veterans are doing to help support each other continues to be amazing. Legion halls provide a community for our veterans to gather, talk, perhaps talk like they are unable to at home, retelling stories of their experiences.

More importantly, veterans organizations provide support, information, and a way through the maze which sometimes can be difficult when seeking help and assistance. I am fully supportive of honouring the blood and treasure of those who came before us with further distinction. However, I have questions about how that would be integrated into provincial laws.

Canada will be commemorating the 97th Remembrance Day, a day that first started as Armistice Day, in honour of the end of the Great War in 1918. At the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, we will remember. Veterans, soldiers, families, Canadians, will gather at local cenotaphs, or war memorials, to honour those who have answered the call of peace.

Canada's National War Memorial was officially unveiled by His Majesty, King George VI. In 1939, over 100,000 people attended that event. Originally, the National War Memorial was dedicated to those who fought in World War I. It was not until 1982, when the monument was re-dedicated with the addition of World War II and Korean vets.

In a moving ceremony in 2000, the remains of an anonymous soldier, who previously lay near Vimy Ridge, was placed in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Today, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is where thousands of Canadians leave thank you notes, flowers, and in a moving tribute to the unknown soldier and all soldiers, they leave their poppies on top of the grave.

On Remembrance Day 2014, the monument was once again re-dedicated, when the dates of the South African War and the mission in Afghanistan were added. This year, 77 years later, after it was originally dedicated, Canadians will see a refreshed National War Memorial after months of work on the monument and the grounds it stands on surrounding the great response, the sculpture designed by Vernon March of Farnborough, Kent, England.

About the monument, March wrote, it was “to perpetuate in this bronze group the people of Canada who went Overseas to the Great War, and to represent them, as we of today saw them, as a record for future generations.”

In Bill C-311 the member for West Nova wishes to formally recognize Remembrance Day in Canada. Though each province has selected just how the 11th day of the 11th month is commemorated, Remembrance Day is, in fact, held every year from coast to coast to coast. There is not one province or territory that does not mark this day.

The bill needs further work in committee. I am quite certain the government side will not disagree with that notion. There, in committee, we will be able to hear from stakeholders, including the Royal Canadian Legion, and thoughtfully consider their opinions, as they did on a similar bill, Bill C-597, which was brought to the House in 2014 by MP Dan Harris, who was then the member for Scarborough Southwest.

I am suggesting, as well, that Bill C-311 be heard at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, a committee on which the sponsor of the bill and I sit. We will be able to ask questions and seek further guidance from not only the Legion but other veterans groups.

By going to committee, we can ask other stakeholders about the impacts of the bill. One group might include labour organizations or federally-regulated companies. These stakeholders will be part of the ripple effect of the bill by making Bill C-311 a legal holiday, and giving it the same standing as other legal holidays, such as Canada Day. Establishing another legal holiday will affect other legislation, specifically the Canada Labour Code, as the member for West Nova has identified.

In doing research on the bill, I inquired with the Library of Parliament and parliamentary counsel on the legal definitions and differences between a legal holiday and a statutory holiday.

Did members know there are none? In fact, the terms, according to the Library of Parliament, are interchangeable. Therefore, when is a holiday a holiday, or even a legal holiday? These are questions that need to be asked and answered in committee. Our veterans and current forces members, who represent our next generation of veterans, deserve that.

As well, the bill proposes to provide a day off when Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday. I have always stood with my fellow Barrie residents on November 11, whether the day fell on any day during a work week, Monday to Friday, or if it was a Saturday or Sunday. I do not differentiate between a week day and the weekend, but again, I would like to hear from Canadians, the Royal Canadian Legion, and affected employees on how they feel about this.

The third part of the bill, that was not in Bill C-597, deals with how the flag is flown on Remembrance Day. We all know that the flag is half-mast on many occasions during Remembrance Day. The rules for this, and many other rules regarding the treatment of our flag, are found in the national flag of Canada etiquette and rules for half-masting the national flag of Canada

While the rules are available to be read, it is unclear if these rules are set in legislation. If there is legislation, it needs to be identified. The current rules have served the flag in Canada well, and if there is a need to set in legislation these rules, again, let us debate them in committee.

In Canada, there are over 100 days that either have national, provincial, local, or religious commemoration. Nationally, there are only four days that are recognized in each province and territory across Canada on the same day. They are New Year's Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, and Christmas Day. Days we would think are national holidays are, in fact, not national holidays. Thanksgiving, Good Friday, and Victoria Day are examples of days we could all rightly assume were marked across the country, but are not universal.

While I did not serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, I did wear a uniform, the uniform of a firefighter. I understand the pride I felt while wearing that uniform, and I also understand the responsibility that came from wearing it.

In my riding of Barrie—Innisfil, a great many men and women living in my riding serve and have served our country. For 100 years, Base Borden has been instrumental in the training and education of thousands of Canadian and foreign soldiers, and my home of Barrie—Innisfil has a deep connection with our service members and their extended military families.

I was honoured to have been present at the Base Borden Legacy Wall unveiling earlier this year. It is a sacred place that gives a nod to the many who trained at Base Borden and served all over the globe.

The Legacy Wall is a special place, and I am so proud of the work by the Vimy Foundation. Base Borden is a special place. Contained within the Legacy Wall is an urn of soil from the battlefield at Vimy Ridge. It will forever be a proud place of honour.

As I close my remarks on Bill C-311, the bill needs to go to committee, because there is much more work to be done on it.

I will close by honouring the men, women, and service animals who have served our country so dutifully. For some, their struggle overseas pale in comparison to what they face when they return home. We owe our veterans so much, and all of us in the House of Commons need to support, and act to ensure that when our soldiers come home, they can be healthy and active in our Canadian society.

For those who serve, we honour them.

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

November 2nd, 2016 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

Edmonton Centre Alberta


Randy Boissonnault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House this evening to speak about Bill C-311, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day), introduced by my hon. colleague the member for West Nova. I deeply respect and admire my colleague's dedication to honouring our country and the brave women and men who have and continue to bravely serve it.

As bright red poppies begin to appear on the lapels of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, let us take a moment to pause and reflect on those we will be honouring on Remembrance Day, Canadians like Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae whose iconic poem, In Flanders Fields, has become an enduring symbol of remembrance and hope, and those like 28 year old Master Corporal Byron Garth Greff, who grew up in my hometown of Morinville and tragically lost his life in Afghanistan in 2011.

Remembrance Day is a time for all Canadians to come together to honour Lieutenant Colonel McCrae, Master Corporal Greff, and the tens of thousands of men and women who have served and continue to serve our country with pride. It is with our deep and heartfelt gratitude that we stand in the House today.

Bill C-311 would amend the Holidays Act, which was adopted in 1970 to consolidate the Dominion Day Act, the Armistice Day Act, and the Victoria Day Act.

Canada Day and Victoria Day are designated as legal holidays, whereas Remembrance Day is a holiday.

Bill C-311 seeks to remedy the situation by designating Remembrance Day as a legal holiday, which would provide consistency with the other two days in the Holidays Act, namely Canada Day and Victoria Day.

Previous bills on this issue, for example Bill C-597, which was debated in the last Parliament, raised questions about whether this change would create a paid holiday across Canada. I want to be clear. That would not be the outcome if the law that institutes legal holidays were amended.

In fact, according to constitutional law, legislative measures concerning paid holidays fall under the jurisdiction of Parliament and the provincial and territorial legislatures. Legislative measures concerning provincial and territorial paid holidays are the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, as set out in subsection 92(13), property and civil rights, and subsection 92(16), matters of merely local or private nature in the province.

Our government supports making Remembrance Day a legal holiday, which would provide consistency with the other holidays in the Holidays Act and demonstrate our respect and support for our veterans and serving women and men.

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Remembrance Day celebration at Edmonton city hall with Mayor Iveson, and I later attended the commissionaires' ceremony at the University of Alberta's Universiade Pavilion. It was an immense privilege for me to see veterans, young people, and members of our community come together to pay tribute to our veterans and soldiers. This is at the heart of what it means to be Canadian. I look forward once again to participating next week in Remembrance Day commemorations in my hometown of Edmonton.

In addition to this change, Bill C-311 also proposes two other changes to the Holidays Act. Our government does not support either of these two changes. Proposed subsection 3(2) proposes, “When November 11 is a Saturday or a Sunday, the following Monday is a legal holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.” These provisions mean that the official name of Remembrance Day could apply to November 12 or 13, should November 11 fall on a weekend. There is a profound reason why we mark Remembrance Day on November 11, and Remembrance Day must remain on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. As such, we will support the removal of proposed subsection 3(2).

The purpose of the other change proposed in subclause 3(3) is to legislate the half-masting of the national flag of Canada on Remembrance Day. This provision is unnecessary, because this is already a long-standing tradition that is set out in the Rules for Half-masting the National Flag of Canada. Lowering the Canadian flag to half-mast is a moving part of the act of remembrance and an expression of our collective mourning.

In addition to this important symbol, Canada also marks Remembrance Day with community activities that are held across the country and by the national Remembrance Day ceremony that takes place at the National War Memorial here in Ottawa.

This ceremony is broadcast all across the country and is covered in the media from coast to coast to coast. Veterans from all the wars and peacekeeping operations, many dignitaries, the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, members of the diplomatic corps, and youth representatives all take part in the ceremony.

Thanks to the many ways we express this tradition of remembrance, we will ensure that Canada never forgets.

The Government of Canada reaffirmed our commitment to honouring our veterans at the Remembrance Day ceremony last year. As the Prime Minister said:

We have an obligation to our country’s women and men in uniform, our veterans, and their families. As a government, we will honour this social covenant with the respect and gratitude it deserves.

I call on Canadians to join me in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have worked and fought so courageously to keep us safe. Today, and every day, we remain committed to ensuring they have nothing less than the care and support of a grateful nation.

As we approach Veterans' Week 2016, which will be observed from coast to coast to coast from November 5 to 11, let us pause to remember and reflect on the ordinary Canadians who became heroes when confronted with extraordinary circumstances, and take time to express our gratitude to those who served our country as well as those who serve in uniform today.

Holidays ActPrivate Members' Business

November 2nd, 2016 / 7:15 p.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-311, an act to amend the Holidays Act, regarding Remembrance Day.

I will start off by saying that I am one of the people, and I think we all are here, who believe our veterans should be celebrated every day for their supreme sacrifices, as well as those who continue to put the uniform on so that our maple leaf is still standing tall and that we remain the true North, strong and free.

I want to celebrate and acknowledge our colleague from West Nova for putting the bill forward. I think the intent of the bill is the right thing to do. However, as has been mentioned by not only the member himself but a number of other colleagues, the bill is flawed and does require some work. The intent of the bill is to ensure that all Canadians from coast to coast to coast have the ability to pay their respects to our soldiers and veterans and to make sure that November 11 continues to be a sacred day for Canadians. It is an opportunity for us to show our fallen, our veterans, our forces members, and their friends, families, and loved ones, that they are honoured and respected both in life and death. We will never forget.

There are thousands of distractions that compete for our time on a daily basis, be it the work email that needs to be answered, the TV in the background, or that phone call that needs to be returned. However, Remembrance Day is the one day where on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Canadians pause to remember. It is an opportunity for us to take time to be thankful for the sacrifices of others, whether protecting our country, working with our allies and partner countries, providing humanitarian assistance, aiding countries by helping to restore the peace, or fighting for our freedom. The sacrifices of our brave men and women have allowed us to continue to live in a free and democratic country where we are tolerant and we respect freedom of speech, religion, thought, belief, and expression.

We live in the best country in the world. I know that I do not need to tell the hon. members in this chamber that. We all have the privilege each and every day to walk into this chamber and raise the issues that are important to our constituents.

I want to hearken back to when I was a sea cadet. For a long time, I proudly wore the uniform and I proudly marched in Remembrance Day ceremonies. I had what I consider to be the distinct honour of being an honour guard at a number of those ceremonies. I want to come back to one of the most proud days that I had, which was the day right after being elected last year. Remembrance Day had taken place and I was going to be sworn in the very next day, but I had that opportunity to lay the wreath that said “Canada” on our local cenotaph. I am getting goosebumps right now just thinking about that because there is no greater honour than paying respect to those who have given the supreme sacrifice. There is no greater honour than when we look through the windows and we see the flag.

As I am looking over your shoulder right now, Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but look at that flag and think of the blood that was spilled fighting for our country, the blood that was spilled ensuring that you, I, all of the members in the House, and our friends and our families can sleep silently and know confidently that we are protected.

We all have the privilege each and every day to walk into this chamber and raise the issues that are important to our constituents because of democracy, because of the sacrifices that these soldiers, these brave men and women, have made for our country. Remembrance Day is a time for everyone to come together and pay their respects for the loss of youth, for the blood of their comrades who may or may not rest in foreign fields, and for the sheer anguish of having fought in war.

We are now just understanding what the term PTSD means. It is one of the reasons why one of the very first things that I did in coming to the House was to table Bill C-211, calling upon the government to develop a national framework recognizing the challenging demands that our first responders, our military, and indeed our veterans have faced dealing with PTSD, as we are just now beginning to understand.

November 11 is not the only day to remember that. As I said earlier, we should always be remembering that supreme sacrifice.

There is much debate about the flaws in the bill and whether it is a provincial or federal regulation. The important part is that the bill is going to hopefully go to a committee. The bill as it stands today will be completely different when it comes out the back end, but my hope is that perhaps we can engage veterans from coast to coast. Perhaps we can engage the Legion. We need to have that conversation. We need to always be mindful of those sacrifices and celebrate them.

This day was created to honour our history and remember that the freedom we have in Canada comes at a cost. We are thankful to those who were there and to those who are today always willing to fight for us to have the privilege of waking up each and every morning knowing that we live in peace. As I said earlier, they are our silent sentinels. While most would run away from danger, they run toward it. When they wake up each day, they live with the knowledge that when they put their boots on in the morning, they may have to put their lives at risk to support and protect Canadians and our country.

It should never be forgotten that this freedom comes at the most significant cost of all, the supreme sacrifice. It comes at the cost of bloodshed, injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and death. Even when our soldiers are able to return home, it will never be the same for them, because they will never forget. They will continue to be haunted by the horrific sights and smells of war. The nightmares and the mental demands do not end. These are graphic scenes and images that anyone would find difficult to see.

It is so important that we educate our next generation, our future generations, about this history, the importance of our forces, and the price that was ultimately paid by the youth of another generation in preserving our freedom. This responsibility falls on all of us as citizens, as educators, and as families across Canada.

We cannot have this debate without bringing in the fact that the Royal Canadian Legions are our guardians of remembrance. There are more than 1,400 branches across Canada. More than 300,000 members give about 1.5 million volunteer hours a day. They give back to the communities about $6.5 million helping our soldiers and veterans come back and have some form of peace. They give back to their communities, and we can never forget that.

It is my hope that by getting the bill to the next level, Dominion Command will be invited to Ottawa to speak before the committee and that veterans will have the opportunity to be heard.

This is about the over 1.7 million Canadians who have served our country, whether in the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the conflicts we have had in recent years, or the ones we are facing today. It is about all of those who have honoured us by serving and some who made the supreme sacrifice.

In closing, it is a true honour and a privilege today to rise and speak about our troops and our veterans. I will be voting to send Bill C-311 to the committee stage. On a personal note, I hope that all Canadians will make an effort to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies in their communities on November 11. If that is not possible, I hope they will take two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. to remember those who made such a huge sacrifice for all of us. To those who are listening to this debate today, they have served beyond.

Holidays ActRoutine Proceedings

September 30th, 2016 / 12:05 p.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-311, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce my private member's bill, an act to amend the Holidays Act, regarding Remembrance Day.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Gatineau for being the seconder on the bill.

Similar versions of the bill have been introduced by former members of Parliament from the NDP, the Conservative Party , and the Liberals, including in the 41st Parliament where it received nearly unanimous support on a vote at second reading.

Every year, on November 11, ceremonies are held across Canada to remember those men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country. We have the privilege of living in a free and democratic country, thanks to the valour of those brave Canadians who fought to protect our rights and freedoms. It is with a deep respect for members of the Canadian Forces and our veterans that I put forward the bill that would officially recognize November 11 as a solemn day of remembrance by including it as a federal legal holiday.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)