Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2017-05-04 18:26 [p.10815]
Madam Speaker, I am a member of the heritage committee, and I have attended the meetings discussing Bill C-311. It has become abundantly clear to me that this measure aims to go in the back door to achieve a desired outcome at the front door. I am opposed to the legislation and to the method by which it has been proposed.
First, let us get some history. We have heard a lot of history in the last 50 minutes or so. The bill is described as a modest measure to add consistency to the language in the federal Holidays Act by adding the word “legal” and ensuring that the same language that is used for Canada Day and Victoria Day is used for Remembrance Day. The bill has been introduced and reintroduced nine times since 2004. Seven of the nine introductions never made it past first reading. Does this not raise the question, then, of whether it is worth spending more time debating a measure to add consistency to the Holidays Act?
This inconsistency has been around since 1931—that is, 86 years—without any ramifications. As I said earlier, the desired outcome is a national statutory holiday coming out the front door; this is just gaining entry through the back door.
Remembrance Day is the day dedicated to remembering those who have served and sacrificed. We have an opportunity to thank those who have served in our world wars. However, do we need a holiday to do this?
Last year, as is my habit, and for the past number of years in my city, I attended the ceremonies at the Sasktel Centre with over 9,000 other Saskatonians. The Sasktel Centre event is considered Canada’s largest indoor Remembrance Day ceremony, and it has been for the last two and a half decades.
Let me quote a statement made at the committee by Mr. Brad White, who is the dominion secretary of the Legion. He said:
This procedure for enacting change in the Legion starts at the branch level, where any member can propose a change in policy or administrative procedure that could affect the entire organization. Following a review and discussion by all members within the branch, the resolution passes to the provincial command level. At the provincial command level and at their convention the delegates from within that jurisdiction further consider and discuss the proposed resolution.
What I saw in the testimony at the heritage committee was no documentation at all. All we heard from the guests was talk about the RCAF Association and the navy, although during cross-examination it was not so much about the navy. The testimony that we heard had very little to do with the national association but with all the local bodies. This is why we see the bill come back to the House of Commons time and time again.
Madam Speaker, I notice the time. I would not support this bill today.