Mr. Speaker, let me add my words of gratitude to the member for Ottawa—Vanier for many years of service to the House, but especially, for the stamina and strength that he showed today by coming here to Parliament. I consider him a friend. I consider him a true colleague. I have watched his hard work here in the House. I also have the honour of living, in my secondary residence, in the area the member for Ottawa—Vanier represents and I can tell members that judging by the communication that he carries on with his constituents, he works hard on their behalf each and every day.
I am sure that every one of my colleagues in the House joins with my wife and I in our daily prayers for strength and stamina for my colleague's family and, especially, for my colleague going through this very difficult challenge.
I am proud, today, to speak in the House about an issue that is very important to me. It is in this very place, every Wednesday, that we, as members of Parliament, sing our national anthem together. We do so united as Canadians, without regard for the political, regional, or other differences that sometimes divide us in this place.
Similarly, across this great country, in hockey arenas, classrooms, community centres, and memorial parks, the national anthem brings Canadians together. I am sure all my colleagues, on Canada Day, have many opportunities to join in communities across their ridings and, if not lead in the singing of the national anthem, at least join with their constituents in the singing of the national anthem. What a joy it is for us, as members, to be able to join our constituents, especially on Canada Day, as we celebrate.
O Canada is not just our national anthem. It represents our common historical, emotional, and spiritual heritage as a country and as a people. It is as important as the maple leaf, the beaver, the tartan, and other symbols that represent Canada and contribute to our national identity. When the national anthem is sung, it evokes passionate emotions of patriotic fervour, solemn remembrance, and enthusiastic national pride in the hearts of all who hear it.
Initially, many Canadians sang God Save the King and The Maple Leaf Forever as the de facto national anthems of Canada. In fact, many of my colleagues in the House probably stood in elementary school and sang, as the national anthem, God Save the Queen.
However, as a result of our desire for an anthem that was more applicable for French Canadians, Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and Calixa Lavallée were commissioned to write O Canada in 1880. This anthem gradually grew in popularity across Canada and over the course of the early 20th century.
In 1927, it was officially published for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation and began to be sung in schools and at public functions. Later, in 1967, a special joint committee of Parliament tasked with studying O Canada would recommend that it be adopted as the country's national anthem. Following further deliberation and study by Parliament, O Canada was proclaimed as the country's official national anthem in 1980.
The development of O Canada is a reflection of the creativity and character of Canadians who crafted and adopted an anthem suitable for a country as extraordinary and diverse as Canada. However, it would be both inaccurate and disrespectful to consider the national anthem to be merely a banal song, hymn, needless formality, or meaningless tradition. Rather, the national anthem is a significant and momentous aspect of Canadian identity, and when sung, it is as evocative as it is impressive.
There are numerous examples of the importance of the anthem in so many facets of Canadian life. For instance, the national anthem is sung with enthusiasm by new Canadians upon receiving their citizenship.
Again, I need to just divert for a moment to consider the fact that many of us in this room have the privilege and honour of joining with our new Canadian citizens as they stand to take the oath of Canadian citizenship. Then, at the end of that ceremony, we sing, together, O Canada. For many of them, it is the very first time they will sing it, and for all of them, they sing it as a Canadian citizen and it is an incredibly emotional time.
It is sung by our athletes when representing this country on the world stage and by our military when serving their country, both at home and abroad.
Indeed, the national anthem is even sung by those who are not Canadians, as we saw following the terrorist attack here in Ottawa two years ago. At that difficult time, our neighbours in the United States came together and sang O Canada before a hockey game between two American teams to show their support for our country amidst tragedy.
Of course, the national anthem is sung when we gather to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have given their lives in order to secure the freedom and prosperity of their fellow Canadians. Again reflecting on the many opportunities I have had to join with Legion members at ceremonial events across my riding, it is just an honour to be able to join them in singing O Canada and recognize the sacrifice they made to allow us to be able to sing this great song together.
However, since the adoption of O Canada as the official national anthem in 1980, it has remained unchanged. Given the great symbolic significance of the national anthem, modifying it or changing it in any way is a matter that concerns not only this House but the entire country as a whole. It is important to note there remains substantial opposition among Canadians to any changes to the national anthem. A definitive study conducted by Forum Research in 2013 indicated that over 65% of Canadians, both men and women alike, believed the national anthem should not be changed. It is for this reason that every previous attempt to modify the national anthem has been unsuccessful. There simply has not been significant public support for any sort of alteration.
When Canadians gather to sing the national anthem together, they do so in part to demonstrate their commonality and unity as citizens of this great country. Furthermore, it should be noted that over 78% of Canadians see the national anthem as it exists as a source of great pride. As such, any change could seriously affect the role of the national anthem as a source of pride and unity among Canadians. For instance, we can reflect on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games when all Canadians came together in a remarkable display of national pride and unity. All across Canada, Canadians were able to cheer on the brilliant exploits of their athletes, and the national anthem served to inspire and unite us during this grand event.
Next year, we will continue to demonstrate our national pride when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the remarkable development of our country since that time. When we are commemorating this significant milestone in the history of our country, our national anthem will feature prominently as a symbol of our country and an expression of our national unity. On such occasions, the national anthem serves as a symbol that continues to bring Canadians together and an important aspect of what makes us Canadian. Moreover, as we reflect on the great achievements of our country and the sacrifices those achievements have required, the importance of our national anthem remains evident.
In closing, I must remind members of this House to consider the importance of the national anthem of Canada as a symbol of national identity, a source of national unity, and a reason for national pride. Most of all, it is my hope that regardless of the outcome of this debate, each and every Canadian will continue to proudly sing the national anthem with a glowing heart. I most certainly will.
While I am not supporting this bill, I have a great deal of respect for my colleague from Ottawa—Vanier, and that respect and admiration will continue and will not change regardless of the outcome of the vote on Bill C-210.