Evidence of meeting #47 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was veterans.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Brad White  Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

February 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

We've expanded it to commemorate the sacrifices of Newfoundland and Labrador since 1916, including that of my great-great uncle who fought in Gallipoli and in Beaumont-Hamel. He died in Beaumont-Hamel.

We have the two, and Remembrance Day has always been a statutory holiday for us. Memorial Day was brought in, and it's been a dual holiday with Canada Day since Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.

I understand the Legion's wish that kids be in school on Remembrance Day. When Remembrance Day fell on a school week when I was a kid—and for my family now—we didn't go to school. We spend an inordinate amount of time, as you mentioned, preparing for it, and not just the week beforehand, but it seemed to be the weeks beforehand. We knew it was coming up as children, and certainly the impression upon us was that this day was so highly regarded that we had the day off school. Most of us considered it quite solemn, even though you might run out periodically. Yes, you're a kid, and you enjoy the day. The solemn nature of that day is understood, and the fact that it was a statutory holiday—and as far as I know will continue to be in Newfoundland regardless of this—was very important to us.

I guess that's subjective reasoning as well, whether it should be or it shouldn't be.

I want to be clear, because this is very important for me. I understand that you talk of national, but this is provincial. Again, we've had this for a long time and I know it means a great deal to people in my province. It's all I've ever known.

Is it the wish then ultimately, beyond this legislation, but looking at the stated goal of the Legion, that those provinces that have a statutory holiday presently should not have a statutory holiday? It should not be a holiday, but a day of commemoration, as you said?

5 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

I don't think it's our wish to change provincial legislation at this stage of the game. I don't think it would be ever our wish to change that legislation. We just don't want to see this as a federal national holiday, and that's what it is, or a statutory holiday at the federal level.

I grew up in military schools. I grew up in schools on bases across the country. I remember doing the same thing that you did in school, building up towards Remembrance Day and then having the school assembly because we were in school.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Absolutely.

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

And then participating in that assembly.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

I went to high school at CFB Goose Bay and did exactly the same thing.

What were you going to say, Mr. Samson?

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

I'm just saying that it's already a statutory holiday federally. You're saying you don't want it to be, but it's already that and this doesn't change that.

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

We just don't recognize it, that's all. That's what our members want us to say.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Yes, because—

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

Our firm belief, and it always has been, is that we get the kids in school. When we have Sonia Gallo from the York Catholic District School Board, one of the largest school boards in Toronto with over 55,000 kids.... I mean, she appeared with us doing the same thing. We want the kids in the school because we can make it a really special day for them in the school.

I agree. This year November 11 is going to occur on a Saturday, so what's going to happen? The kids won't be in school because it's the weekend. What do you do? Do you make it a long weekend and give them Monday off because the Saturday was the holiday? I'm not sure. There are so many permutations on it.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

For many of us, it was the days preceding the day.

You had the democratic debate among your members, and as you said, it comes from the ground up, which is great. However, are the limitations of what Mr. Fraser is proposing understood, that it's not going to change?

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

No, I don't think it is, because this bill didn't come until after our convention in 2016. Our members have not pronounced anything on this bill. It's our general policy that they would go against making November 11 a holiday.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Okay.

I'm fine, Mr. Chair.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Larry Maguire

Thank you, Mr. O'Regan.

We'll go to Mr. Waugh for five minutes.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. White.

You've been pretty crystal clear—really clear. It must be frustrating, though, to deal with this at your level 15 times in under 50 years. Somebody's trumpeting.... You know, sooner or later, they will eventually pass, right? You've been fighting this since 1970 in the Legion, for God's sake.

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

When can this quit in your Dominion command, that you quit bringing this forward every four or five years because there's a special interest group?

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

Have you ever been to a Legion convention?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

No.

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

So it will never end.

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

This will never stop.

This is healthy debate, because it reaffirms the significance of what the day is supposed to mean for people. Any knowledge or reaffirmation of that significance, to us, is beneficial. The debate will never be over. We debate all sorts of things. This is one of our more colourful debates, I would say, because we do have one side versus the other. Sometimes it comes up to a standing vote, where you have 1,200 people and you have to count them on a convention floor.

But it is a healthy debate for an organization whose second mission is the preservation of remembrance. It's a healthy debate for our members to have. I welcome it. I'm not afraid of the debate, and our elected officers aren't afraid of the debate either. It's a good debate.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

This is the seventh time it's come forward in the House of Commons.

5:05 p.m.

Dominion Secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion

Brad White

Yes, and I think every time we've said, “no”.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

That's all I have to say. You've been pretty crystal clear, so thank you.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Larry Maguire

Thank you, Mr. Waugh.

Mr. Vandal.