Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 228 put forward by a member of the Liberal government. The motion suggests that Canada develop and promote a new national symbol, under the guise of warranting a symbol for the House of Commons. I question why Canada needs a new national symbol.
Let us look at our existing symbols. I reviewed the symbols that Canada has, symbols around which Canadians can visualize their pride in their nation, symbols that draw Canadians across the country together, symbols that represent their sense of nationhood, common values and aspirations, not only domestically but internationally.
We all recall how our pride swells individually and collectively when we see the Canadian flag being marched into a stadium at the opening ceremonies of every Olympic Games, or when we see the maple leaf flag being raised behind our medallists on the podium.
People in my riding, as do many Canadians across the country, come to my riding office asking for Canadian made Canada flag pins to take with them when they travel abroad. These pins are sought after by citizens of many other countries as they represent a country that is admired around the world.
What value does our most important symbol, our flag, have to Canadians here in our cities, towns and provinces? For most, the flag is respected and proudly displayed, but this past weekend I was shocked to read an article in the Montreal Gazette, its headline being “Maplephobia a symptom of Gomeryitis”. The article states:
Pity the poor Maple Leaf, the latest victim of the Gomery scandal.
Our flag's image has been so tainted by the sponsorship fiasco no one wants to be caught waving it at our city's Canada Day parade. Last Thursday, a front-page Gazette story said organizers are struggling to find anyone to sponsor floats with Canadian flags, because corporations are “spooked” by the sponsorship scandal.
Our once-proud national symbol now conjures up cash-filled envelopes. In the words of one parade organizer: “Companies are reluctant to sponsor a Canada Day parade float if it means being associated with a Maple Leaf”.
Is it not ironic that a member of the same party that caused such disdain and reluctance to associate with our flag would now propose a new national symbol? The Liberal Party and its way of using taxpayers' dollars to bolster its own coffers and those of a favoured few is the root cause of this shameful situation.
Let me remind all of us that the sponsorship scandal came out of that party's government establishing a program to promote Canada and citizenship in the province of Quebec. To achieve that, we have heard through the Gomery inquiry that the government undertook its mission to promote Canada by imprinting Canada's symbol on everything, including golf balls.
We do not and cannot support substituting a new national symbol when our national flag itself is being shunned.
Before the opposition would consider a new national symbol, we believe that the government has a responsibility to accept this sorry state of affairs. The only way to rehabilitate Canada's flag in this country, particularly in Quebec, is to rehabilitate the government.
Before we need a new symbol to represent the House, we need to rehabilitate how the House works. We need to restore it on a foundation of integrity and accountability. We have to demonstrate that the House is about working on behalf of all Canadians and not just vote buying to stay in power.
If we do not restore a good honest government into the House, then we will have to adopt a symbol none of us would be proud of. In fact, the media has put forward its own suggestion in the form of farm animals feeding at a trough. This is not what Canadians want nor deserve.
The member's motion proposes a new national symbol to reflect the role, heritage and authority of the House. We have seen how the government implements its role, the heritage it will leave in our history and the authority it exercises. We can only imagine what symbols might be used to represent corruption and deception, the biggest scandal in Canadian political history and using its authority to spend billions of taxpayers' dollars at a rate of $1 billion a day to buy votes. This is not a legacy we would choose to symbolically adopt.
Moreover, the motion asks for the protection and promulgation of a new national symbol. We have seen how the government uses Canadian symbols to spend tax dollars and how our tax dollars are not only wasted but misused in such activities.
For this and the fundamental reason that we see our first responsibility is to maintain and rejuvenate all Canadians' pride in this country, its institutions and its flag, before adopting any new symbols we must once again restore the pride of all Canadians in this House, this country and our national flag, so that every float in every parade across Canada proudly carries a national symbol, our Canadian flag, on Canada Day.