Mr. Speaker, this debate has had an interesting fate in the way it has progressed over the last two weeks.
There are a number of issues I want to deal with. I think one of the most important things is that all of the people who are listening to this understand why we are doing this, putting an end to this. This issue admittedly arose from members of the government side standing to wave a flag, as well as members of this party, and rightfully so. They should have. I stood up proudly and waved the flag in response to comments made by a member of the Bloc. We said enough is enough, we have to get on with the important governing issues.
The members repeatedly have said send it to a committee. Sending that to a committee would be a colossal waste of time. It is important but it is not rocket science. We are talking about a very simple question.
This is the only way we can put this thing to an end once and for all and make every single member in this Chamber stand up and be counted. Will you allow a flag on your desk or will you not?
When we debated this supply day motion as to whether or not to proceed with it, that was the number one issue. Let us get this thing over with, make people stand up and be counted and move forward.
The fisheries and oceans committee I am involved with meets two or three times a week and we do a lot of good work. By sending something like this to committee to be buried in months and months of meetings is insane. It is absolutely ridiculous it has arrived at this point where we have used a supply day motion because there are lots of important issues. We were forced into this. We were pushed and we had to respond. This is one way to put an end to this and that is what this is all about today.
It can be argued that we are sitting here using up valuable time but we are not going to have this issue go on until May or June and then into next fall because that is crazy. That is what you guys keep telling us to do, send it to a committee and let us talk about it.
Yes, we did get a ruling from the Speaker yesterday and he did say it was clearly out of order. I accept that. No question. What happened? There were about 200 members of Parliament responding to comments made outside the House when a member was visiting a foreign country representing Canada with taxpayers' dollars. They were infuriated. They were outraged and they responded.
There were comments by the Speaker yesterday that this should not be repeated. With the highest respect for the Speaker himself and the authority of that chair, I would suggest that if these kinds of comments are made outside the House again exactly the same thing would happen.
We saw members of the government proudly wave a three foot by six foot flag during the budget debate only weeks ago when this issue came up. I supported them. I stood on my feet and sang O Canada , and I was proud to do that.
This debate has been elevated and it has progressed but thank goodness the Reform Party is bringing it to an end. It will not go to a committee. It will not go off to further meetings. They will not be talking about this in June. We will not be hearing grumblings about it. It is over today, once and for all.
Every member will have to stand in this House and be counted. There will be no ducking behind some orders of the government. They have an opportunity to stand and be counted on whether they will allow members to have a flag on their desks.
We are advocating that we should have this place give each person their right. They do not have to if they do not want to. I heard a member opposite just moments before referring to the flag as a weapon. For goodness sakes, that is the craziest thing I have heard. It is the elevation that this debate has come to. They talk about respect for institutions.
I do believe that a majority of these members, with the exception of one party, believe in this country and are patriotic. Some members just want to demonstrate that. However, I do not want to lose sight of why we are here today.
This is a very important question: Can some members put a flag on their desks? I admit that we did not do this in 1993 and we did not do it last September. This whole thing evolved out of the outcome of actions by a member of this House on a taxpayers' junket to another country and the House responded.
It has elevated to this and it is time that it has to stop. It has to be over and done. This is the one way that it can be done. The Reform Party had to use its supply day motion to put an end to this nonsense, to make sure they stand up and are counted.
I am in a state of awe that those members are sitting over there saying “Send it to a committee. Let them talk about it. Let us come back in June. Let us come back next fall. Let us carry this thing on”.
This is such an elementary question. It is so painfully simple that we have to make sure they stand up in this House, that they are heard and that we move forward.
I have heard people suggest that the Reform Party is using this as a lightning rod and as an opportunity. I will tell this House and every single Canadian out there watching in all sincerity that we do believe in this country. We do believe in the flag. I proudly stand here on Wednesdays and sing the national anthem. I do. If I did not, I would not be standing here right now making this speech. I would have a lot better things to be doing.
I will continue to fight for this country and fight for my kids so that they have a good place. I mean that sincerely. I really do.
To carry on with this nonsense is just absolutely crazy. The only way that we could force an end to this matter is to use our supply day. That is exactly what we have done. Every member over there will have to stand and be counted. They will have to say what side they are on. Let us talk about what this is all about.
Those members can say that it is a weapon. I heard one of the top strategists for the Progressive Conservative Party equating this to a Reform member having this tattooed on their body and displaying it in the House and whether that would be acceptable. There is all this craziness.
That is where all the other parties are taking this debate. It is simple. Can we take a little desk top flag and put it on our desk when we want to talk about a very important issue? Maybe we will want to leave it there all the time.
This is the House of Canada. This is the Parliament of Canada. There is only one flag for Canada. There is only one national anthem for Canada. I will stand up in this House and say that the Quebec flag does not belong in here any more than the Newfoundland flag or the British Columbia flag or any other flag from this country.
The only flag that belongs in this House is the maple leaf. I am sure I would have a lot of people who would agree with me. I stand in this House as a proud Canadian. Those flags belong beside the Speaker and no other flag on this desk.
Every member of Parliament sitting in this House should be standing up and fighting for the good of all Canadians. That is what we are doing today.
Now we are hearing comments that we are wasting time. The reality is respect. We are spending three or four hours debating this in this House.
This started out as an appropriate response to comments made and it has now elevated to this. This nonsense has to end and end today. People have to stand up and make sure they are heard, which is what we are here for.
I am happy to ask anyone to ask me any question on this issue. I will be glad to give them a response as long as they do not want to get into some silly debate about a whole bunch of issues that we are not talking about today.