Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill C-311, an act to amend the Holidays Act, regarding Remembrance Day. It is important to recognize that the bill will not make this a national holiday for all provinces such as my own, although Ontario will continue to have that as an option. It is still much a matter of debate as to the value of having that day as a national holiday or whether, as the Legion professes, it should not necessarily be so because honouring and respecting veterans takes place all the time. They argue school campaigns are just as effective and having the children in the school at that time is effective.
I personally will be supporting it as a national holiday for a number of different reasons because I believe that the work that is done and the argument that is made in the school is very profound and very proficient. I come from an area in Windsor in Essex County where many battles of the War of 1812 were fought. We had a number of different interventions with regard to wars, conflicts, and even peacekeepers over the years. It has not just been World War I and World War II. It is the Korean War, Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions, a series of encounters across the globe involving my constituents from the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, the HMCS Hunter, and as well the HMCS Windsor, which is now in the field, that have all been part of the national construct of why we pay tribute and honour them.
I support this as a day to reflect as some workers cannot have that opportunity to take a moment. I know that some establishments no longer even have the 11th hour of the 11th day and the minute of silence, which we are supposed to observe. I remember when I was in school that would take place in Ontario and it still does to this day, but I know it does not take place in other places of business and work. Having that day, we have done a lot in Windsor and Essex County over the years to heighten awareness. It is also important for a diverse culture and community to do so.
I have been fortunate to grow up in the shadow of different experiences, in particular, my biological grandfather John Clifford Addison perished in the fall of the Burma campaign on the HMS Scorpion. I do not know much about my grandfather. I have his medals and his war record. I have a photograph of the ship that he served on, but my grandmother remarried Fred Attwood when he came to Canada. He raised me as his own grandson, so I would go over every weekend and talk to my grandparents and he would share the stories. He served on the MacCallum and the HMS Ark Royal. He was a merchant marine as well as in the Royal Navy. He told stories of how he slept at night making sure to put sugar at the bottom of the grease tins so that the different insects would not get past it and the camaraderie he had as an electrician with some of the pilots on the aircraft carrier that he served.
We have those personal elements that we can share, but how do we transfer that? I would say that there has been a tremendous effort and I want to thank the Windsor Veterans Memorial Services Committee, as we recently had a ceremony. For over 100 years, it has provided services for the men and women of good service to Canada who have passed away and for those who came back from the field of combat to be part of our community. They have a number of different support mechanisms for our veterans, including an honour guard for funerals, and my grandfather was one of the recipients of that. We have a service every year especially for that. It is very unique in Windsor and Essex County. It is ongoing throughout the year. The services have reached into the hundreds in the last number of years because of the number of veterans we have lost most recently.
I am also very proud to represent a region where we already have a connection to Ottawa. When Korea was not recognized as a war, on our city council, I was proud with Charles Hotham to move a motion to put the only city funding and federal funding into the current memorial in Ottawa for South Korea. Losing our veteran, Henry Martinak , this year was very difficult as well as Larry Costello from the Windsor Veteran Memorial Services Committee who passed away.
The point I also want to make in relation to this is that the bill would just be adding a legal aspect to the current terminology, so nothing will really change.
The legislation has been diluted and I do not understand why. I do not sit on committee so I do not know why that was done, but I will support it because it is an improvement to what we presently have. However, questions will remain as to whether the remaining provinces should join the six provinces and three territories that currently observe Remembrance Day as a holiday. For example, banks and federal employees observe this as a day off.
What happened in Windsor and Essex County is really unique. New Canadians who have come from countries around the world and who have no personal connections, who do not have that gift as I and many others do, are able to attend our Remembrance Day ceremonies. This is an opportunity to further showcase that. It is also an opportunity to teach them about the real connections Canadians have.
It is not just about the fact that some people made the ultimate sacrifice. It is also about the fact that so many came back and they have contributed a lot to their communities and families. This is so critical to mention because many of those helped to establish unions, community groups, and many different organizations. They led to the many diverse ways that Canada has expressed itself and contributed so predominantly in the world.
I will be supporting the bill and I thank the member for bringing it forward. The reality is that at the end of the day, we will still be having the discussion in places like Ontario as to whether Remembrance Day will become a full holiday or not. Until that time and until that discussion, at least we in this place continue to recognize our veterans as well as their families for their continued contributions to our communities.