Madam Speaker, I want to indicate at the outset that I certainly support the motion before the House today, and I want to say that people should read the motion very carefully. It does not ask for an apology. Indeed, it asks that the Queen recognize officially the wrongs that were done to the Acadian people between 1755 and 1763, and that the Queen, when she is there in 2005, recognize that a great wrong, a great injustice, was done to the Acadian people.
That is what this motion is asking. I do not find that a great problem. The motion is well drafted. It is a very polite motion asking that our Governor General convey to the Queen that Parliament wishes that she recognize, when she is speaking to the Acadian people, that there was a great wrong done in 1755 to 1763.
I really appeal to the House to support this motion as overwhelmingly as we possibly can. It is not a partisan motion. It is a motion to recognize that a wrong was committed. Historically it is one of the great wrongs of our history. People were deported from their homes to Louisiana, to the southern part of the United States. Families were separated and people were uprooted. They lost their properties, they lost their friendships and they lost their communities.
It was a sad day in Canadian history. A lot of sad things happened in our past that affected many people, whether they were Japanese Canadians, native Canadians, or our First Nations. Many injustices were carried out by our predecessors.
The Acadian people are among those who were very unfairly treated by the government of that time, a colonial government, not the Government of Canada. It was that colonial government that deported the Acadian people to the United States.
This was a great injustice. Communities were torn apart. People were deported. They were sent out of the country. All of this was done by the colonial government. I do not think we should be so timid and so afraid. It is not an insult to the Queen to make this kind of request that she say that something terribly wrong was done many years ago.
I want to state very clearly that this motion, proposed by the member for Verchères--Les-Patriotes and seconded by the member for Acadie--Bathurst from the New Democratic Party, is a motion that we all should be supporting.
Some people ask why we would do this. I was in the House in 1984 when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister for the last day, and Brian Mulroney, the leader of the opposition, the former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, got up and asked that very question. The member of the Conservative Party from the Ottawa area read former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's response. I did not agree with that response. I think it is very important for the well-being of the whole of our country that we do recognize when wrongs are committed and that we do try to apologize--and this motion does not even say apologize--for those great wrongs and injustices that were committed many years ago.
It is rather sad to reflect upon the history of humans. Human beings have often been very inhumane in the way we have treated each other historically. We have had genocides in the world. We have had mass expulsions in the world. We human beings have executed thousands and thousands of people around the world. We are hopefully becoming a little more civilized. One way of being more civilized is to say to the Acadian people that what happened many years ago was wrong. It was an historical wrong. It was morally wrong, and it should not have happened.
We cannot do anything about it now in a substantive sense, but we can say officially, as the Parliament of Canada, that what happened was wrong, and ask that when the Queen, the sovereign, is speaking to the Acadian people, she also say that it was the wrong thing, that it was something that was regrettable and should not have happened. I think that would go a long way toward saying to the Acadian people that we respect them, that they are equal partners in this great country of ours, and that what happened was very wrong. The very least we can do is have the sovereign say this in 2005 when she speaks to the Acadian population.
I have studied the history of our country. In the last 300 years, the French-speaking Acadian people have made a truly great contribution to our nation. There are still many Acadians in Canada, and the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst is among those who have greatly contributed to our country. I would like to commend the Bloc member for Verchères—Les Patriotes for his motion, and I hope members of all parties will vote in favour of this motion.