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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 carmichael.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

If you read this section of the amendment, you will see, as Mr. Carmichael said, that it refers only to people's residences--condominium buildings, gated communities, or multi-residential buildings.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

We are planning to look at protocol of some sort. Could the chair or the clerk remind us what that is?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

The committee has authorized a study on protocol to provide a fuller understanding to our provincial and municipal partners and agencies on what Canadian protocol is for things such as a state funeral or the funeral of a slain police officer so that Canadian traditions are used, rather than the traditions of other nations.

We're going to be studying how can we bring together those Canadian traditions; presumably we'll be advising the Department of Canadian Heritage.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

I don't want to make too big a point, but could the flag protocol potentially change as a result of that study and discussion and whatever flows from it?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

No. It changed--

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

No? I was just clarifying.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Are there any more questions concerning amendment 2? Otherwise, potentially I will ask to see

if this amendment passes. Then we will vote on whether clause 2 carries as amended.

So, if there are no further questions, we will move to a vote on whether the amendment carries as presented and whether clause 2 carries, as thereby amended. Are there any further questions? Mr. Cash, you have the floor.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

I'm just trying to understand the whole idea of needing a bill that encourages the flying of the Canadian flag, because we encourage people to fly the Canadian flag all the time and everywhere.

We have funds through our federal government to encourage the flying of the flag. We as MPs encourage it in our constituencies, so I'm a little unclear here about what this bill is going to do. Are we not already doing this? Isn't part of the job that we do here to instill pride in our country and facilitate the flying of the flag?

It strikes me that this amendment nullifies the need for this bill in the first place, because we encourage this in all manner of ways. I can't see how this bill is going to change that or how it is going to enhance it. It's already there. We have programs. We have a lot of infrastructure already in place. I need some clarification here.

Individuals in condos, co-ops, and multi-residence buildings are already encouraged to be proud of our country, which undoubtedly just about everyone is. They are encouraged to fly the flag if they can at their residence. If they can, then they will. How does this change anything around the ability of Canadians to fly the flag?

11:55 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Go ahead, Mr. Young.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you.

This is very significant for all the reasons Mr. Carmichael stated. It's our hope that the bill will pass unanimously in the House, and if and when the bill passes, it will make a statement--not just to Canadians in general, but to property owners, people who own apartment buildings, people on condominium boards, and owners of multi-residence buildings--that the Government of Canada is encouraging and allowing Canadians to fly the Canadian flag.

Were a dispute ever to end up with any judge at any level, there will be a statement from the Parliament of Canada saying that Parliament encourages and supports flying the flag. That could easily be, and would likely be, a considerably important deciding factor in such a dispute.

It's very important.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Let me get this straight. You're saying that—oh, sorry.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

I'm always asking for advice, of course. Mr. Armstrong asked for the microphone first.

Noon

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Just to try to provide some clarification, in clause 2 the first sentence discusses how the flag should be not only be proudly displayed but displayed in accordance to protocol. There is concern among some people across the country—and I've heard complaints—about how the flag is sometimes displayed. People could choose to display it upside down. They could choose to display a flag that had holes in it or was ripped. I think the flag protocol takes care of some of that.

We're not just encouraging people to proudly fly the flag; we're also encouraging them to fly the flag according to a protocol. This would clarify the situation if I put a flag up that had holes all through it but felt that I was just displaying a flag and showing pride in the country; other people might criticize that, so this clears it up a bit. As a government, we're encouraging the flag to be flown not only for pride but in accordance with the flag protocol.

I think that might clear up a bit of the concern about the first sentence.

Noon

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Go ahead, Mr. Vellacott.

February 2nd, 2012 / noon

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

It's not a question so much as a response to Mr. Cash.

I don't know his family situation or whether he has children, but we know in life that you often will require positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. That's just the nature of life, all the way through life.

Certainly, as you have well suggested, as MPs we should encourage the proud display of the flag, but sometimes, when people have different ideas, there are also negative reinforcements to be sure that others have permission to do so. I think he would well know and reach into his own experience of life to know that you sometimes require to have positive reinforcement combined with the negative reinforcement to be sure there is follow-through and that what you would prefer to happen is possible.

Noon

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

I'll go to Mr. Cash, and then Mr. Simms right afterward.

Noon

Liberal

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

On that point, if I may share, if this is a free-flow discussion, I apologize—

Noon

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Excuse me, Mr. Simms. No, I meant Mr. Cash first, and then Mr. Simms. I'm sorry about this. Don't be mad at me. I am sorry.

Noon

Liberal

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

It's a reflection on me, is it?

Noon

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

I just have a quick rebuttal.

I'm really unclear what you're saying about negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement. What we're trying to do here is make a positive impact, something that's actually going to make a difference. We have a lot of positive reinforcement around the flag, and I'm all for more. That's going to work, but again, I strain to find any teeth in this bill that make a difference. What you're talking about is a statement that if somebody actually has to take this thing to court with their own money, they can present this bill as some kind of solace.

I don't know. I'm curious as to what Mr. Carmichael has to say about it. It seems to go against a lot of what you were initially intending in the first place.

Noon

NDP

Le vice-président NDP Pierre Nantel

If I may, and if the committee agrees, I invite Mr. Carmichael as a witness to answer Mr. Cash's question.

Noon

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Cash, to your point that this country does a lot—and we do, as a country—the assumption that every Canadian can fly the flag is just that: it's an assumption. It's something we've all been raised with. To your point, I think that's really your point, that it is just that. It's an assumption that we have the right to fly the flag. This bill merely enshrines it. That's really the goal of this bill: to enshrine the right of all Canadians to be able to fly the flag at their discretion.

For all the programs we provide, etc., with the few examples I brought today, clearly this isn't the case. The assumption is that as long as a condo board or others determine they don't want a flag flown on their property, that's the ruling that's going to rule the day. This bill encourages a change in that direction.

Noon

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Go ahead, Mr. Simms.

Noon

Liberal

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

It seemed to me during debate in the House that it was all about the penalty phase. Why did you change your mind?

Noon

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

I really didn't change my mind, but when we got into the debate and some of the extremes were pulled out of left field, it became apparent that we had a bigger issue in terms of wanting to put people in jail, which wasn't the case at all.

That penalty was measured opposite other penalties in the court system. As I said to you at the time, I would prefer to see that aspect removed altogether. That wasn't the goal of what we were doing. The goal was to give people the right to fly the flag, pure and simple, but the debate exclusively pursued the penalty phase. That was unfortunate, because I think we missed the tenor of what was being presented.