Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. First, as my hon. colleagues have done, I want to mention the contribution of the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier to the House. He is known for passionately defending both official languages and also for supporting his fellow Acadians from different regions who are with him this morning. I also want to acknowledge the work being done in the other place. My hon. colleague from the Bloc named them. I would like to mention again Senator Gérald Comeau, who is a Progressive Conservative. For years, he has been fighting for recognition of the rights of Acadians in Nova Scotia and a greater sense of belonging and enhanced visibility for that community.
As my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois said, this could be a consolation prize. I do not know. Instead, I want to say that it could be a first step in recognizing the Acadian people. Naturally, its good points must be acknowledged, but also the bad things it suffered in the past. Today, we must recognize August 15 as National Acadian Day. Games can be played with the word “national”, but at the very least, this is an important step. Other steps will follow.
I hope that this House will do its utmost to recognize not only the good points, but also the past suffering of the Acadians. I think this is an important part of the process.
I want to thank, too, all the parties in the House for their collaboration in ensuring the rapid adoption of this bill. Our work will be finished shortly. Very soon, I hope, we will be returning to our ridings, but it is important that, starting this year, the House send Acadians throughout the country a signal that the House does note their presence and their contributions. I am sure that, in the fall, it will also note the suffering that led to the Acadians' great sense of pride.
The Acadian flag bears a guiding star. But it is also a sign of remembrance. It is important to never forget our origins, the good times and the bad.
The Progressive Conservative Party is very pleased to collaborate, as are all my hon. colleagues, in recognizing August 15, 2003, as the first National Acadian Day.