by Phillip Blancher
SOUTH DUNDAS — A private members bill by NDP Member of Parliament Dan Harris is currently making its way through the House of Commons with support of the Federal Government. This bill, C-597, would make Remembrance Day a statutory federal holiday. While I understand the idea behind the bill, I do not agree with Remembrance Day being a statutory holiday.
Remembrance Day is a day of sombre reflection of the sacrifices our military has made to protect our individual and national freedoms. It is a day to pay tribute to that sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice. That deserves something more than a day off school, or a day off work.
There is no guarantee that making November 11th a statutory holiday will mean more people will attend Remembrance Day services. Should November 11th fall on a Friday or Monday, it will become just another three-day weekend.
Instead of giving everyone the day off on Remembrance Day, the bill should allow for people to leave work or school to attend a Remembrance Day service in their town. There should be funding put in place to enable every school to be able to transport their students to a Remembrance Day service in their community. For schools in rural communities, there should be funding to ensure that a service can be held in the school, on the proper day and at the proper time.
When I started High School in 1990, I remember at 10:30 in the morning, the entire school walking to the cenotaph at the town hall. The whole park around the cenotaph was filled with students of all ages, paying respect and remembering as a community. In the 23 years since then, I have not missed a Remembrance Day service.
That is what this bill should do. A day off work or school is not the solution.