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View Kevin Vuong Profile
Ind. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am not pleased to be rising in the House tonight. The reason for my disappointment is due to subject matter that I wish the House did not have to be debating. Nonetheless, tonight's debate is on a very serious subject, the implementation of the Emergencies Act. I would like to believe that all hon. members of this place, irrespective of their political party, would also wish not to be here debating this subject. Unfortunately, we are.
I believe that the events that have transpired at various Canadian border crossings and in our nation's capital over the last three weeks converge to provide few alternatives. Some may not see it that way, and I encourage them to take a hard, long second look.
I appreciate that emotions remain high. I would like to do an objective, factual level-set. To do that, I want to take the location out of it and take the city where the protest has occurred out of the debate. Let us put aside that the protest was in Ottawa and ask ourselves how we would feel if it was a hon. member's city and their community that had its main streets and downtown core barricaded by trucks and crowds. Imagine if it was an hon. member's constituents and their neighbourhoods effectively held hostage in their own city, their own community and their own homes. Imagine if people from their community were being harassed and intimidated, with some actually fearing for their own personal safety. What about their right to protection and their right to freedom of movement?
In our community of Spadina—Fort York, we are no stranger to protests. Toronto City Hall is in our riding. The provincial legislature at Queen's Park is just outside of it. In fact, the route people take to these places to exercise their democratic rights often means they would literally be driving by my home. When they do, they would often be honking. My girlfriend and I would look out, see who they were and even look up and see what they were advocating.
However, my rights to freedom of expression and assembly should not, must not, include the oppression of others.
As the son of refugees, I know that my family knew terror and injustice. They endured two years in a refugee camp to find a new home that shared their values, a place that valued democracy and the rule of law. I am sad to say that I did not see those values when I looked at the streets of Ottawa or at the Ambassador Bridge.
What we did see was our national monument to Canada's fallen disgraced and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier being jumped on and urinated upon. It is tragically ironic that the soldier inside the tomb was once a person who knew well what fighting for freedom was all about. The same applies to the statue of a remarkable young man. Terry Fox raised more money than anyone in this country for those fighting an insidious disease, including those who are immunocompromised. The monument and the statue are precious symbols of the best of who we are as a country. That they were defiled is a disgrace.
Some of the most impactful symbols are flags. Sadly, we saw protesters walk around with the flags of evil and racism. Even in the country where Nazism started, anyone who parades around with that flag today gets arrested.
Then there was the Confederate flag, which some protesters chose to fly, a flag that continues to conjure up hatred and intolerance and celebrates a time when people were placed in chains and human slavery. My colleague, the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, recently eloquently reminded the House of what that flag represents. It does not mean freedom. It does not mean inclusion. It represents intolerance and human slavery.
Flags matter and symbols matter. Our Canadian flag is a beacon of hope for so many people here at home and abroad. I was distraught, as a person who had also proudly worn the flag and the uniform of our country, to see people wrap themselves in our flag and use it as a shield for behaviour that was often anything but honourable.
What I have commented upon thus far is described in revolting detail and I think lies at the heart, the very foundation, of those who came to Ottawa. They did not—
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