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Results: 1 - 15 of 15
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair. I want to thank our witnesses for being here.
Certainly I support the good intentions of the bill. I want to clear up some confusion, though. The law does not identify it as a lesser holiday. It was a witness who said that, and somehow it has taken on a life of its own and is being quoted as “Remembrance Day is a lesser holiday”. It is not a lesser holiday. It is simply termed differently from a statutory holiday, but that doesn't make it any less. I think we should be dropping that word “lesser”, because it was brought into the discussion by a witness who came before the heritage committee.
The second thing is that while I support the intention—I think it's a noble intention that we honour those who have fought and given their lives in the defence of Canada and Canada's freedoms—I don't think I'm going to be the first to say that tremendous confusion surrounds this bill. You hear it here today. I've read through all the transcripts and followed Mr. Harris' speech. Even Mr. Harris at the beginning—11 times in his opening speech in the House—called it a “statutory holiday”.
So there is tremendous confusion, and while we're trying to sort out the confusion here amongst MPs, imagine Canadians who are not following the debate closely and not listening to the interpretation and the clarifications. It is confusing what Canadians will think when it's raised to a legal holiday but not a statutory holiday. There's a lot of confusion here.
It has been implied that it is a day off. That's the implication, and I think it's what most Canadians are expecting when they look at this bill. They'd have to follow exactly what's going on to think differently.
I have another concern, and that is about the competing interests on what would be a statutory holiday, if it were a statutory holiday; that is, that the commercial sector would see an opportunity here and that there would be other events organized on this day. I think that Canadians right now honour Remembrance Day. They know that Remembrance Day is special. They honour it by attending a ceremony, the children in schools or others in their own way as Canadians, to pause and reflect on what the meaning of the day is.
Let me ask a question about consultation. Because of the confusion that I see, at least, I think it's really important to consult before a bill like this comes forward, because I think that dissipates confusion and you have the buy-in of stakeholders. You'd also have their input in terms of their saying, “Oh, that's not clear to us” or “This is not clear to us”. I'm not convinced that there has been a lot of consultation. I have read in the transcripts, I believe, that there was not official consultation with the provinces. There was perhaps some dialogue, but not consultation with the provinces.
But let me ask about the Legion, Mr. White. Was the Legion formally consulted on this bill and the way it's worded or what is being advanced, before it was tabled?
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Blais, let me ask you about your organization. Were you consulted in a more formal...? I don't mean just a sort of discussion at the end of an event, but I mean on the intent of the bill. It's not that you would have seen the wording of the bill before parliamentarians, but were you consulted on the intent of the bill and the implied understanding? As I said, right from the very beginning there was confusion over whether it's a statutory holiday or not, and that came right from the proponent of the bill.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
No, I'm getting to the point here of consultation. This is an important bill that affects all Canadians.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
It affects provinces and it affects schools and school boards—
Mr. Michael Blais: Great.
Mr. Pierre Lemieux: —and I'm simply trying to ascertain.... The word “legal” is an amendment—
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I'll take a few more seconds to adjust that point.
I said “affected”, and clearly affected, because we have the school board—
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I am. I'm looking right at the witness from the school board—
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Peter Stoffer): Very good. Thank you.
Mr. Pierre Lemieux:—and I'm saying “affected”, because the school board is here and has written a letter saying that this will affect children in school and it will affect the schools.
I will leave my case there. Thank you.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
I think we are fortunate to have Mr. Harris here with us today, so I thank him for being here.
I would like to ask him a question, if I may, through you, Chair.
What Mr. Lizon just pointed out was that Canadians don't really know the legal terminology of the act. Is it a “holiday”? Is it a “legal holiday”? As I mentioned, and as I think Mr. Valeriote said, there is confusion over whether that, therefore, makes it a statutory holiday or not. That's one comment.
The second comment is that the analyst has clarified that legally speaking there is no difference between the act's saying a “holiday” or saying a “legal holiday”.
So the question I want to ask to the proponent, to Mr. Harris, is this. Could you refresh our memories on the purpose of the bill, when we've just heard all of this discussion and I think that there is the risk of confusion? It's being clarified around this table, for example, but maybe not in the minds of Canadians who are not following every word that is being spoken here at the table.
If I may, I'd like to ask Mr. Harris that question.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
Just to follow up on Ms. Ablonczy's comments, I understand the intent to clarify. I think that's a good intent but there can always be unintended consequences. My concern is that the unintended consequence is greater confusion even though the original intent was to clarify, which is kind of what Diane was saying. That's certainly my concern and I think the concern of some colleagues around the table.
View Pierre Lemieux Profile
CPC (ON)
I agree. I think that's a great plan.
For my part, I'm actually glad it came to the veterans committee because I think just in the comments we had, the discussion we had, the analyst's notes, it's helped. It has added to the debate in a constructive way, so I'm actually glad it came here.
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