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?