Chatham-Kent-Leamington Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren. January 28, 2019. (Photo courtesy of http://www.cpac.ca)

Local MP pushes for recognition of Dutch Heritage Day

Canada has shared a special relationship with the Netherlands for decades and a local MP is hoping to formally recognize that at least once a year.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren — who is in his final sitting of parliament before he retires later this year — has introduced a motion that would designate May 5 as Dutch Heritage Day across the country.

That day would also honour the sacrifices made by Canadian veterans who gave their lives fighting for the Liberation of Holland, which took place on May 5, 1945.

“I wanted to leave with something that everybody could agree on, something that was positive,” said Van Kesteren, whose parents settled in Canada as Dutch immigrants. “This is something that fermented in my mind for some time now and I thought this would be a good opportunity to do this.”

Dutch Heritage Day wouldn’t be a national holiday, but Van Kesteren said he hopes there would still be some special annual recognitions taking place on that date.

“I know here in Ottawa, we are going to do something with the Dutch Embassy — we want to distribute possibly tulip bulbs… a few Dutch-Canadian flags,” said Van Kesteren, emphasizing it is a day to celebrate the relationship between the two countries. “This is at very least a 50-50 split… the acknowledging of what Canadians have done for the Netherlands and… Canadians thanking Holland for the contributions that were made by the immigrants that came to this country.”

Van Kesteren said the motion was met with strong support so far and could pass sometime in March of this year, adding he would be “very surprised” if it doesn’t receive unanimous support at the final reading.

You can watch the introduction of the motion in the House of Commons below: