Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the way. I respect his very eloquent and descriptive presentation. There is very little I could disagree with in terms of the images he conjured up. That said, I will go back to what I said in the last debate about this flag. Patriotism cannot be legislated. Countries that legislate patriotism are the type of countries where we are in process of ousting their leaders.
I appreciate the fact that our amendment to get rid of the most onerous aspect of this bill in its original form was accepted by the other side. However the bill, as presented, is an aspirational bill. I wonder why it is a bill and not a motion.
The stories that my hon. colleague from Don Valley West shared with us are the types of things more Canadians need to hear in order to encourage them to fly the flag. This should be a motion, an activity that is brought about by a desire to share, a desire to express as opposed to a fear of being put in jail. Now that those elements have been taken out, one has to wonder what the purpose of the bill is.
The bill has its heart in the right place. However, one has to wonder why we need a bill to tell people to fly the flag as opposed to creating an awareness program or a sense, as the hon. member's speech did, of pride in the flag.
We have a situation in our committee very often about the fact that little is taught in our schools about our own Canadian history. Programs should be developed that help young people in particular, and even us older folks who may have become disconnected with our heritage and our connection this country.
I am an immigrant, born in England. I have great pride in what this country has helped me to accomplish and what I have been able to contribute. When I look at the flag, I feel that pride. I celebrate Canada Day. It is something which is encouraged. It is something that is done out of joy, connection to the people and the country that we live in, not because of a mandated law or the threat of incarceration or other punitive elements.
I share the member's joy for what the flag represents. It is one of the symbols of this very great nation. I do not share the need to tell people that they have to raise the flag as opposed to encouraging them to.
My hon. colleague said that he feels that individual Canadians do not have the right to fly the flag. They do, and they can exercise that right through the Canadian Charter of Rights. People may come and say “Take that flag down.” However, people can say “I am sorry. Under the Charter of Rights, I can fly this flag as much as I want and where I want.”
There needs to be an education process for condo associations and other organizations that have a tendency to go overboard with esthetics. I understand that dynamic very well. I live in a condo in Montreal where some of the rules are a bit annoying.
An awareness program could be developed that would allow Canadians to reconnect with the flag, that would encourage condo associations to think twice especially around Canada Day, Remembrance Day and other celebrations where the flag is flown.
Remembrance Day is one of those days when we remember the men and women who fought, who died for the freedoms that we enjoy today. One of those freedoms is to either fly the flag or not fly the flag. That is a fundamental freedom that the flag ironically represents. It is counterproductive and goes against the sacrifices of these brave men and women to try to legislate patriotism. For those who legislate patriotism, it is the beginning of a dictatorship. If a government feels it can dictate how to celebrate, how to express connection, then that is a problem.
I feel that encouragement, stories that help us connect and an environment of inclusion and support would encourage people to fly the flag as opposed to bills that would mandate it. In its current form without punitive measures, what is the point of the bill because it has no teeth, thus, what can it do?
I would ask my hon. colleague to possibly look at turning the bill into a motion which I think everyone in the House would support, that says Canadians should exercise the right that they already have to fly the flag and create scenarios like the stories he shared that help us feel pride. These stories help us reconnect to those moments as children and our first encounter with the flag. My first encounter with the Canadian flag was as a young Sea Scout in Montreal.
Like the stories the member shared with us, we can help Canadians connect with the flag, this country, what this country means to them and the symbol in front of them. I encourage and applaud the efforts of my hon. colleague. I hope we can find a way to take the positive message that he is putting forward and turn it into something that encourages as opposed to penalizes.