Madam Speaker, I am very glad to rise to speak to the motion which was introduced by the hon. member for Beaver River.
I guess you might call me a new Canadian, having been born in Scotland. I came here when I was 23 years of age. Unfortunately that is quite some number of years ago. I cannot do anything about that. Nonetheless, I am a new Canadian.
When I go back to Scotland to visit the many relatives and friends I still have over there, after a few short weeks I want to come back to Canada. This is my home.
I have family here. I have a wife and two fine young boys. My wife was also born in Scotland. My boys were born here and they are Canadian. They think of themselves as being Canadian. They have lived in this country or all their lives, apart from a few weeks when they visited Europe. What are they forced to put down on the census form? Certainly not Canadian.
The Prime Minister stands in the House and tells us about how this is the greatest country in the world. I endorse that statement. I think this is the greatest country in the world and millions of people would agree with me. However, let us remember that these people built the greatest country in the world. It does not matter if they are of Scottish origin, like I and my family, or of the different origins which we have heard about in other speeches. They all came here with a dream, with a hope, with an aspiration for a new beginning, wanting to be Canadian.
I came here thinking that I wanted to be Canadian. For over 20 years I have held a Canadian passport. I am proud of that, yet there is nothing I can put down on the census form which salutes and recognizes that fact.
We have heard other speakers tell about the tragedies of where their families came from. One of the great heritages of Canada is that while, for example, Scotland has a great history of emigration, Canada has a great history of immigration. That is what has made this country strong.
My Scottish history tells me that a couple of hundred years ago the Highlands clearances occurred and Scottish people's houses were burned down and the kids were left to starve in the snow. Some of them were able to make their way across the great Atlantic Ocean to Canada. While they may have a strong emotional
attachment to Scotland and call themselves Canadians with Scottish roots, many of them have never left this country, and yet they cannot call themselves Canadian.
I think back to the last war when Canadians liberated Holland. The people of Holland are proud of it and grateful. As we know, every year there are hundreds of thousands of bulbs sent over here from Holland because the Canadians liberated their land. They were not hyphenated Canadians, coloured Canadians, white Canadians or other kinds of Canadians. All they know is Canadians liberated their land.
Even when I was a little fellow back in Scotland they talked about how the Canadians had worked around where I grew up and the sawmills they built and the work they had done for the war effort. They talked about Canadians. When I go over to Scotland on a holiday, again these people see us as Canadians and are proud and envious of what we have. Yet here in Canada we do not even want to recognize who we are with our history of immigration.
While people have come from all around the world and from desperate situations, each and every one of them has found freedom. However, now we find that our freedoms are being eroded. They are being pigeon holed, classified and counted according to groups so that this government can come out with a little subsidy program to say "we are going to give some money to you and to you" because we are all categorized into different groups. There are some of Scottish heritage, some of other heritage, some who are black, some who are white, some who are crippled, some who are handicapped and so on. The government is going to count them all up so that it can see what the differences are. That is divisive.
When the pioneers came to settle the prairies, I do not think they cared two hoots about where a person came from. It was can he work and can he put his shoulder to the wheel and does he believe in building this wonderful land that we have. That was all that mattered.
Now, in this great social engineering world that we are in, we have to get everybody categorized and pigeon holed so that we can design a program to fit them and have them developed down one certain road. We are going to help other people develop in a different way and somebody else go off in a different way so that we can keep ourselves apart. How are we ever going to build this national unity, national concept that we are Canadians from coast to coast, each and every one of us?
It can be done and it will be done eventually in spite of this government and in spite of government programs given enough time. However, it will take a very long time if we continue on with these divisive types of attitudes, categories, pigeon holes and labels and count them all one to ten. Do we deny some people access to a career even though they may qualify in merit but they happen to come out of the wrong pigeon hole?
I have had this happen in my own riding. I have had people in my office who had wanted to be members of the RCMP so bad that they could taste it. I can think of one fine young gentleman with a college degree who spent six hundred hours a year volunteering for the RCMP. His older brother is a member of the force. He would dearly love to be a member of the force. Wrong pigeon hole. He cannot join. He has every qualification in the book that is required and then some; yet wrong pigeon hole and he does not qualify.
This is the same as the member for Wild Rose. His son, wrong pigeon hole and cannot qualify.
I dearly love, as a new Canadian, speaking in this House. Think what that means when I travel back to Scotland and people say "you are a member of Parliament in Canada" and I say yes. They say "that is fabulous, how you have prospered over there". I have prospered. This country has been very good to me. Why, oh why do we deny ourselves the right to call ourselves Canadian? Do we deny the concept that we are Canadian, which could build unity and harmony within the country, rather than the divisiveness that the government wants to devise another program to solve. It is easy, Madam Speaker. Listen to the people. Do not listen to the government.