Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome members back to Parliament after a break. It has been six weeks since we have been here.
The member for Don Valley West, who put forward this private member's bill, has been waiting a long time for it to be heard in this Parliament so we can send it to committee where it can be reviewed, maybe amended, returned to the House and passed. It is a proud day in Parliament when I can stand and speak in favour of Canada's flag.
I would first like to talk a bit about private members' business after listening to the diatribe by the member opposite about what we should be talking about and when we should be talking about it. There is never a bad time to talk about how great this nation is and the symbols that represent this nation. We live in a great nation. The member across the way may not agree but it is never a bad time to talk about what a great nation we have and the symbols, like the Canadian flag, that make us a great nation.
The member for Don Valley West has put forward a tremendous bill that may need some small revisions and some changes when it gets to committee. I will promote today why we should send this good bill to committee and why we ask all members across the way to pass it.
The member, his constituents and many Canadians have been waiting for us to pass legislation that would ensure that we protect the valuable symbols of this country, symbols like the Canadian flag, symbols that represent the unity of this nation from coast to coast to coast. Unlike my friend across the way, I stand in support of the member for Don Valley West and I stand in support of Bill C-288. This is the proper time to talk about a flag that represents this great nation.
I rise today to provide additional comments in addressing Bill C-288, an act that encourages the flying of our national flag in every part of our beautiful country.
Last month we had the opportunity to hear comments from many members of Parliament on this legislation that was introduced on September 27, 2011. This opportunity is again being offered to us today and I am pleased to be able to express my support for a bill that encourages all Canadians to fly the national flag, not only where they live but everywhere across the country. Canadians are proud of their flag and they should be able to display it not only on special days, like Canada Day or Flag Day, but each and every day of the year.
I support my colleague from Don Valley West who introduced the bill. I would like to ask all members of Parliament to vote in favour of it.
We agree with some of the proposals that would result in amendments to the bill. We want to encourage condominium corporations, homeowner associations, landlords or others who may have control over shared property to make a provision to allow for the display of the national flag of Canada on their property.
We agree with many modifications that will simply encourage Canadians to proudly display the national flag. The prohibition as it was first included in the bill could also be reviewed. The intent of the bill is still valid and we should let the committee study the bill further to make any necessary amendments.
I would remind everyone sitting in the House today that our flag belongs to all Canadians. It is am emblem we all share.
We will remember that it was in 1964 that a Senate and House of Commons committee was formed to respond to the government's wish to adopt a distinctive national Canadian flag. The colours of our national flag are based on a strong sense of Canadian history, the combination of red, white and then red first appeared on the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria. Red and white were subsequently proclaimed as Canada's national colours by King George V in 1921. The single red maple leaf on a white field is similar to the device worn by all Canadian Olympic athletes since 1904.
The committee eventually decided to recommend the single leaf design, which was approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on December 15, 1964. This was followed by the Senate on December 17, 1964, and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. This was to take effect on February 15, 1965. On that day, a new Canadian flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill and at embassies and consulates across the world.
Everyone will remember the following words that were spoken on that momentous day by the Speaker of the Senate, adding further symbolic meaning to our flag:
The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.
The Canadian flag represents the principles of freedom, democracy, courage and justice upon which our great nation is based.
On the day that the maple leaf flag was first raised over Parliament Hill, the prime minister of the day addressed the audience and stated:
--this day, the 15th day of February, 1965, will always be remembered as a milestone in Canada's national progress.
For almost half a century our flag has watched over us as we have grown, matured and prospered. It welcomed the world to our 100th birthday and Expo '67. It followed Terry Fox on his Marathon of Hope. It beckoned our friends the world over to join us in Expo '86 and the Calgary Olympics, and it proudly presided over our 125th birthday in 1992.
It flew with graceful optimism as we embarked on a new millennium. Day after day it still reminds us of a tolerant, peaceful and blessed people who represent this country.
We witnessed Clara Hughes, Canada's Olympic flag bearer, carrying our national flag at the opening of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, accompanied by the top athletes in our country and, in fact, many of the top athletes in the world.
Team Canada: I am sure this proud moment in our country's history is something that we will always remember, as will Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is red and white in honour of Canada's official colours. It displays a single red maple leaf that is a national symbol, a traditional emblem of this nation. A maple leaf is a familiar symbol of our vast and beautiful country that reflects our common values and our sense of community.
In 1867, Alexander Muir composed the song, The Maple Leaf Forever, to express his profound roots to the maple leaf in Canadian history.
Considered by flag experts as one of the world's most recognizable flags based on its simple design and limited number of colours, the national flag of Canada is admired by people in every corner of the world as a symbol of freedom and a symbol of democracy. Its clean bold lines speak to our shared values, our sense of common purpose and our sense of national community.
Although simple in design, Canada's flag well reflects the common values we hold so dear, while, at the same time, in its striking simplicity, the Canadian flag speaks to the exciting challenges and huge opportunities our nation possesses for the future. It represents all that we have accomplished together and the moments that have served to define us as a nation and as a people.
Today, 46 years later, the maple leaf flag is recognized and respected worldwide.
The Canadian flag demonstrates the common values so dear to our hearts: freedom, peace, respect, justice and tolerance. It is a familiar sight in towns and cities across this vast and beautiful land. It flies from coast to coast to coast, from the beautiful north to the valleys and mountains of British Columbia and the coves of Atlantic Canada.
The maple leaf pays homage to our geography, reflects the grandeur of our history and represents our national identity. Silently, it speaks for all the citizens of Canada, regardless of their language, beliefs, race or opinions.
The Canadian flag is a symbol that unites the Canadian population and expresses, everywhere in the world and everywhere in Canada, the pride we have of being Canadian. The national flag can be seen in our embassies and missions abroad and it is unmissable in Afghanistan where Canadian soldiers have made enormous sacrifices to secure peace and safeguard the Afghan people.
Our flag is a peaceful and prominent symbol in Canada and around the world. In the international community, it symbolizes freedom to express distinct cultural perspectives and is a sign of openness and accommodation. Our flag is the symbol beyond all others that brings Canadians together. Not only does it represent our free, compassionate and caring society, it also represents each and every citizen and their pride in seeing it fly in the vast Canadian skies.
We have a lot to be proud of in this country and the flag symbolizes this to us and the world about what is best about Canada. It speaks to tolerance, mutual respect, compassion and acceptance. These are deeply ingrained values in the Canadian character.
It is a reflection of us all and is a reflection of a belief that we all need to celebrate. The flag is an important part of our national identity. We fly it on flagpoles, sew it on backpacks and put decals on our cars and bicycles and, whenever we do, we send a message of pride and unity to our friends and neighbours across Canada and across the world.
The Government of Canada is proud to celebrate each year, on February 15, National Flag Day. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about and reflect on our shared heritage and express our collective identity. On that day across the country there are literally thousands of events celebrating National Flag Day.
In my riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley there is a big event in a place called Parrsboro, an area with the highest tides in the world, an area where tidal power will engage and grow that community. The people in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, celebrate flag day every year. They are patriotic. They believe in Canada and Canada's unity. On their behalf, I stand today in support of Bill C-288 and the member for Don Valley West. I encourage members opposite to support the bill and send it to committee.