Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House today to speak to Bill C-311 regarding potential changes to Remembrance Day in terms of being a legal holiday.
This private member's legislation comes from the right place, from a good place. We all want to see participation in the recognition of our veterans' service grow. We want to see more people at parades on Remembrance Day or on any other days of the year when we recognize the contributions made in the many wars Canada has had to participate in, where our troops have fought so valiantly.
Most members of the Conservative caucus, if not all, voted for this legislation. We wanted to see it go to committee. The reason we wanted to see it go to committee was very simple. We wanted the committee to analyze it, bring in witnesses, and understand the potential ramifications and concerns that would be brought forward by different veterans groups and organizations. Certainly there were those who supported it. I do not want to say it was on one side.
The Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command has been very clear over the years that it does not support a change in this respect. We have to listen to those stakeholders. We need to ensure that we listen to them in this process. After all, it provides a community for those who have served. We need to ensure that its voice is heard on a national and even a provincial level. This specific private member's bill has both a provincial and a federal piece to it.
An organization that represents over 275,000 members has said that it believes that the best way to grow participation on Remembrance Day is to ensure that young people are in the classroom to ensure that they are learning about the day on that specific day. That is a very strong argument that has been brought forward and is one that I have personally heard in my riding, where I have two legions. It is one that I know has been communicated to most members of the House.
I like to draw on my experiences as a young person, and specifically as a young person in politics. Had it not been for my school having Remembrance Day services, there probably would have been many children in my school and in my area who would not have had the ability to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony. Where I grew up, to be blunt, it was a very poor area. There was government housing. The reality is that there was no opportunity sometimes to get to Remembrance Day services, because people did not have the means.
It is ultra important that young people are able to see and be a part of these services that take place each and every year that recognize the incredible contributions of our veterans. Those who are with us still can show up at schools and share their experiences and their values and why it was so important to fight for their country, or in many cases, even to fight for people in other countries. This is so necessary for our young people. We need to make sure that this is preserved going forward.
I recognize that it is a bit different, depending on where we go and what province we are in. I can speak to the experiences I have had in Ontario.
As we look forward, I know the Legion Dominion Command will continue to be involved in this process. Its members are doing an incredible amount of work to ensure that Remembrance Day grows and has more participation. With the amount of work I know they do in our community in setting up our Remembrance Day ceremony and working with local media to ensure people are able to come out and participate, I feel they are the experts on this subject. Any time we have an opportunity to listen to the experts on a subject, we should do so. They have a lot to contribute and certainly they know this file better than almost any of us in the House could, save and except those who have served in our armed forces.
I know a lot of work has been put into this bill to date. The member for Barrie—Innisfil, the member for Souris—Moose Mountain, and the member for Yorkton—Melville have all put a ton of time in, along with members from the other parties, to ensure all sides and all stakeholders have been listened to and consulted on the subject.
However, as we come here, debate and are readying for a final vote on this in the House, it is a time when I specifically need to say that I will not be supporting the bill. It has been well debated, well-thought-out, and well positioned. It comes from a great place with respect to what the member is trying to achieve. However, at the end of the day, I believe we should be doing everything we can to ensure that the ceremonies that happen in schools with young people continue and that we do not do anything to inhibit that or to create this as a holiday instead of a day of remembrance. To me, it is not a holiday. It is a day that we should all take very seriously, to understand the sacrifices that have been made so we can stand in the House freely, without any concern for our well-being, and say everything we believe as politicians.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this subject and I look forward to the upcoming vote.