February 22, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

That is right, in Newfoundland. The question and answer I have just propounded is as ridiculous as the purpose of this bill. In saying that, I do not cast any reflection upon the hon. member who has proposed that bill nor do I doubt his bona fides in offering the bill to the house. We must remember that a country that has no sentiments or traditions is never going to be a nation. All we have in any country or in any nation is its sentiments and traditions.
I am a brand new Canadian, as you all know. I like it. As we used to say back home, I am as green as a var bough. Perhaps I should say I am now as green as a Canadian var bough. The Canadian traditions and Canadian sentiments which I have adopted are as important to the people in this country as they are to those at home who have their own sentiments and traditions.
, of our traditions, which is quite new, is Memorial day which falls on July 1. That is in memory of soldiers killed in the first world war. It was on July 1, 1916, that the Royal Newfoundland regiment suffered such terrible losses. Ninety per cent of those who went into battle were casualties. That day has been celebrated ever since. We now call the same day "Dominion day", but as far as Newfoundland is concerned it is still Memorial day. That day is going to be kept by us whether the date is changed or not.
Coming back to the main point, as I said before, tradition and sentiment must be considered,. Unless that tradition and that sentiment are fully respected I cannot see how on. members of this house can consider voting in favour of this bill. My personal feeling is to vote definitely and positively against it. I am not particularly interested in the clause of the bill dealing with the other holiday, but I am interested in Dominion day. Newfoundland came into confederation -and I think this is the feeling of all Newfoundland members-ready to accept all the traditions of Canada. I understood Dominion day was the biggest day of the year. If that is so and you are going to do away with that day by this bill, you must remember that you are not only doing away with a holiday; you are doing away with a day that marks the birth of this great dominion. And you are going to do away with that tradition for what-to give people a holiday? People do not need holidays as badly as that.
Statutory Holidays
I do not think the sponsor of this bill really has given the matter the consideration it deserves. Either that is the case or the people out in his part of the country are not the Canadians I thought they were. I say quite honestly and sincerely, Mr. Chairman, that I believe Canada should preserve all the traditions it has. It is not a particularly old country, but if it is going to be the great nation we all believe it will become then the day marking confederation should be observed in such a way that succeeding generations will feel that we have kept faith with the founders.
For these reasons, reasons of sentiment and tradition if you will, I oppose this measure, and I feel sure that at least the other members from my part of Canada have the same view about it. I feel that the reasons given by the hon. member for Cape Breton South could be very well incorporated into my remarks. I see no reason for going further into the matter, since the hon. member has done it for me very well indeed. I also believe the remarks of my leader, as the hon. member for Temiscouata has just commented, should be given very great consideration. So, Mr. Chairman, I am definitely and positively opposed to this bill.

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