It is suggested by this bill, Mr. Speaker, that each year a day be set aside as citizenship day, a public occasion for the recognition of all who in consequence of the adoption of the Canadian citizenship act will have attained the status of Canadian citizens; a public occasion for all Canadians to develop mutual understanding and promote national unity.
I know the Secretary of State (Mr. Martin) will endeavour to provide effective and impressive ceremonies for the admission of new
Canadians into the Canadian family. The house agreed with him when he said, as reported at page 504 of Hansard:
One thing wTe hope to do, following the passage of this measure-
That is, the Canadian citizenship bill.
-is to provide a more effective and impressive ceremony for admission ipto the Canadian family.
Also when he said:
We are convinced of the desirability of emulating the form of ceremony which characterizes the admisssion of persons into United States citizenship. ,
Canada may want to emulate the form of celebration, which does not interfere with admission ceremonies, instituted by the United States on May 3, 1940, which takes place on the third Sunday in May of each year, and is designated as "I am an American" day. This bill proposes to create "I am a Canadian" day. Service clubs, social organizations and other institutions in Canada have shown their willingness to do the spade-work to bring this sort of celebration into being. For instance, at one of their annual conventions the junior chambers of commerce of Canada adopted a resolution in which they suggested a special citizenship week each year, which would be called Canada week, and I am informed that such a move is now being organized, with the period fixed as June 2 to June 8 next. Let us give these patriotic organizations our encouragement; and a debate on this bill, should it take place, I am sure will bring out most valuable suggestions. Incidentally I would hope that the proclamation of our official flag might coincide with the proclamation of our citizenship bill.
The purpose of this bill is to help Canadians, old and new, especially the older Canadians who are supposed to set the good examples and lead the way for the new, not only to realize and take pride in the achievements and the greatness of Canada but to promote national unity by reminding all of us of our present status and future aspirations as a nation. According to this bill, each year throughout Canada the anniversary of the day fixed by proclamation of the governor in council as the date of coming into force of the Canadian citizenship act, which it has been said "symbolizes our aspirations as a nation" shall be a legal holiday, kept and observed as such under the name of "Canadian citizenship day".
Let me close my explanations with these words of the Secretary of State when intro-
ducing the Canadian citizenship bill on October 1, 1945, and again on the motion for second reading of the bill on April 2, 1946:
For the national unity of Canada and for the future and greatness of this country it is felt to be of the utmost importance that all of us, new Canadians or old, have a consciousness of a common purpose and common interests as Canadians; that all of us be able to say with pride and say with meaning-
And may I add, to proclaim at least once a year, in some sort of official and solemn way: "I am a Canadian citizen."
Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.
Subtopic: RECOGNITION, OBSERVANCE AND COMMEMORATION- PROVISION FOR LEGAL HOLIDAY