Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise today to give my excellent speech.
Canada is built on multiculturalism. When people think about our country, they think about French Canadians, English Canadians, and indigenous Canadians, who all have their own languages, religions, cultures, and nations. That shows that the country has always been the same. Canada has been a multicultural country for over 250 years.
The French fact in Canada starts in northern New Brunswick and Acadia and crosses into Quebec, the centre of the French Canadian nation. It continues to northern Ontario and down into southern Manitoba. In fact, in Manitoba, two nations, French Canadians and indigenous peoples, united, creating a new nation with a new culture, the Métis. Canada really has been a multicultural country for centuries.
Some people might ask me what this has to do with Quebec. The idea of multiculturalism was born in Quebec and it began with Quebec's first governor, James Murray. He implemented the first treaty of peace and friendship with the Algonquin people. Approximately 28 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada found that that treaty was still valid. James Murray also did something unique in the British empire of his day. He made sure that the right of French Canadians to their language, religion and civil code was enshrined in the Quebec Act. He gave francophone culture a place in Quebec in the Quebec Act.
The idea of a multicultural country appeared 250 years ago with James Murray. This idea was born in Quebec. We have seen this idea of multiculturalism throughout Quebec's history. We saw it in 1847 when Irish orphans were welcomed by French-Canadian families in Quebec. These people told the orphans they could keep their family name. They were integrated, they were taught French, but they were able to keep their own culture. We recognize those names today. We recognize the names O'Neil and O'Hara. Those are names of francophones. There are also names like Johnson or Ryan. Those who are interested in politics will recognize these Irish names that are Québécois too.
Take for example the flag of Montreal, which goes back to 1939, 80 years ago. On that flag there is the fleur-de-lys, which represents the French fact of the founders of the city of Montreal.
The Rose of Lancaster is also depicted to represent the English who founded the city of Montreal. That is not all. The thistle is there to represent people of Scottish origin. Lastly, the flag also has a shamrock, because the Irish also took part in the founding of Montreal, which is indeed multicultural.
That is not all. A little over a year ago, the City of Montreal changed its flag. It changed the flag because, when it was first designed, one of the great nations that took part in the founding of the city of Montreal was left out. The city decided that it was time to demonstrate that first nations should also be be included as founders of the city of Montreal. The white pine, which represents peace for first nations, was therefore added to the flag.
When I look at the flag of Montreal, I see a flag that demonstrates the multiculturalism that exists between the French, English, Scottish, Irish and first nations. It is a fact that proves that multiculturalism is alive and well in Quebec. It began 250 years ago and is still alive today.
Perhaps my colleagues would like further proof that Quebec is multicultural?
I suggest they look around this chamber. There are francophones with French names among the members from Quebec. They undoubtedly represent the majority of Quebec's population. There is also a francophone member with an Irish name sitting opposite me. He is a francophone Irishman. There are also people like me, anglophones with English names. That is not all. In the House, there are members from Quebec with names of newcomers, names that originate in Asia. There is more. In the House, there is a member who is from the Cree nation, a branch of the Algonquins, who always speaks his own language and French.
We see that Quebec's multiculturalism is vibrant and that it is represented in the House. We cannot ignore that fact.
Canada's multiculturalism originated in Quebec. The fundamental idea was born in Quebec. The idea that the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act affects Quebec is ridiculous. The terminology did not exist 250 years ago. The concept existed and still exists, and that is a fact.
Quebec was born with James Murray, who accepted the Hurons, and both the French and the English. This continued with the orphans who were welcomed and retained part of their culture and their names. It continued with the flag of Canada's great city, Montreal, and continues today in the House. It makes no sense to deny this fact. Quebec is multicultural.