Bill C-287 (Historical)
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.
Brent St. Denis Liberal
Introduced as a private member’s bill.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment establishes a day to honour Canadian Forces peacekeepers.
June 18th, 2008 / 3:25 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord--Chapter 23
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act--Chapter 26
Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day--Chapter 27
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act--Chapter 30
National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business
November 21st, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
The House resumed from November 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, be read the third time and passed.
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
Private Members' Business
November 15th, 2007 / 6:20 p.m.
Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues who spoke this evening. They all spoke eloquently and I appreciate that they spoke in favour of this private member's bill.
I would like to use my concluding few moments to thank, as I thank all the members of this House, the veterans affairs committee for its support. It took its responsibilities seriously when Bill C-287 was on its agenda. We had a good discussion and some very helpful changes were made. I appreciate that.
I also want to thank the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River who was the seconder at third reading.
I want to underline that this is another way to say that we support our troops. It is a way of saying that Canada's role in the world, while not easy in terms of its military presence, is not easy to define. If we start from the premise that we are at our core peacemakers and peacekeepers, and however we define what a peacekeeper is, if we start out from that philosophical premise, from that spirit, then we will ultimately do the right thing.
I wish to pay homage to the veterans in my own riding and the ridings of all of my colleagues, and especially aboriginal veterans who have often been unsung heroes in Canadian military history. I just want to remind the House that our job is to represent everyone, not just those who voted for us, but between elections everyone in our ridings. We have people on all sides of the spectrum. If there is one thing we can agree on, it is that as our country moves forward and as our quality of life improves, it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to share our values, our wealth and our vision.
Through our peacekeeping efforts, whether they are through the military or whether they are through our NGO communities, our police forces, our diplomatic corps, in all ways we are serving our children and our grandchildren, indeed the future generations who will depend upon how we conduct our business at this point in the history of the country.
I look forward to a successful vote in the near future.
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
Private Members' Business
November 15th, 2007 / 6 p.m.
Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill.
The strengths of this bill are the following: it recognizes the important role played by UN peacekeepers, which should be highlighted here, in this House. The Bloc Québécois is very much in favour of multilateralism as a method of settling international conflicts, and UN peacekeepers embody this approach. The peacekeepers who have died on UN missions deserve to be commemorated. This bill will also give our current Prime Minister an opportunity to discover that the peaceful use of our army is something that must absolutely be encouraged.
The only shortcoming is the date of the commemoration on August 9, which is not the first choice of the Bloc Québécois.We would have preferred a date that is already universally recognized as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers: May 29.
There are a great many reasons to pay tribute to peacekeepers. They are a central element in multilateralism, a principle of conflict resolution that is dear to Quebeckers. The essentially international characteristic of the peacekeeping missions authorized by the United Nations Security Council grants unparalleled legitimacy to any intervention and attests to the determination of the entire international community to take tangible steps to deal with the crises that occur from time to time.
However, peacekeeping operations alone are not the appropriate instrument for every situation. They must be accompanied by a peace process, not replace it. United Nations peacekeeping operations are an impartial and very widely accepted way of not only sharing the burden, but acting effectively.
Peacekeepers are present throughout the world. The 18 operations directed by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations are being carried out on four continents in 10 time zones, employ more than 90,000 people and have a direct influence on the lives of hundreds of millions of others.
Close to 64,200 people are currently serving as soldiers and military observers, and roughly 7,500 are in police forces. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations also employs nearly 5,250 international civilian personnel, over 11,300 local civilian personnel and approximately 1,720 United Nations volunteers. One hundred and eight countries contribute military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping operations.
The UN is the largest multilateral contributor to post-conflict stabilization worldwide. Only the United States deploys more military personnel in the field than the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. There is therefore still a long way to go before multilateralism is the most commonly used form of conflict resolution.
In 2005 alone, UN peacekeeping operations rotated 161,386 military and police personnel, made 864 flights into or out of the field, and carried 271,651 cubic meters of cargo.
The actions of peacekeepers are usually effective. Since 1945, UN peacekeepers have undertaken 60 field missions and negotiated 172 peace settlements that have not only ended regional conflicts, but also enabled people in more than 45 countries to take part in free and fair elections.
In 2005, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations successfully completed peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, and fulfilled its mandate of helping to establish domestic institutions and providing these as yet fragile societies with the opportunity to establish lasting peace.
Demining operations managed by the UN Mine Action Service, part of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, facilitate the deployment of peacekeepers to Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan.
In terms of security, recent peacekeeping missions have been carried out in some of the most difficult and least governed areas ever encountered by international missions. These operations have provided practical assistance on the ground to extremely vulnerable populations. Peacekeepers are deployed to areas where others cannot or will not go and play a vital role by paving the way for the return to stability and, ultimately, for peace and long-term development.
There is also a clear correlation between the decrease in the number of civil wars and the increase in UN peacekeeping missions. The number of UN peacekeeping operations has more than quadrupled since the end of the Cold War. Since 1990, this renewed international activism has grown in scope and intensity, and the number of crises, wars and genocides has begun to diminish accordingly.
In addition to peacekeeping and security, the peacekeeping forces have, with increasing frequency, been responsible for supporting political processes, building legal systems, creating law enforcement and police forces, and disarming former combatants. For example, through their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program, the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone alone has destroyed 42,330 weapons and more than 1.2 million bullets and shells. It has also disarmed 75,490 combatants, including 6,845 child combatants, and provided an allocation to and ensured the reintegration of nearly 55,000 veterans.
The United Nations mission in Timor-Leste has created a business women's group that trains women entering the public service and ensures that they are heard in the new government and structures of civil society. Today, women represent over 25% of parliamentarians in that country. That is one of the highest percentages of female parliamentarians in the world.
UN peacekeeping is cost-effective. A survey by Oxford University economists found that international military intervention under Chapter VII of the UN Charter—action taken when peace is under threat—is the most cost-effective means of reducing the risk of conflict in post-conflict societies.
The approved Department of Peacekeeping Operations budget for the period from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, was approximately $5 billion. This represents 0.5% of global military spending. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that it would cost the U.S. about twice as much as the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN stabilization mission in Haiti.
I will end here with those statistics and illustrations, because it has been proven that peacekeepers are a necessity and the Bloc Québécois is very proud of that.
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
Private Members' Business
November 15th, 2007 / 5:45 p.m.
Betty Hinton Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to join my colleagues in support of Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day.
Let me begin by commending the members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, who worked together in a spirit of cooperation. As a result, this legislation has the unanimous support of all parties.
We were able to make amendments to address several issues and to improve the bill.
As a member of Parliament, I am very proud to have been part of a committee that kept the language very simple. It states in fullness:
Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the ninth day of August shall be known as “National Peacekeepers’ Day”.
For greater certainty, National Peacekeepers’ Day is not a legal holiday or a non-juridical day.
We were able to amend the language to make sure that we were being as inclusive as possible. For instance, we changed “peace support missions” to “peace support operations” and added the words “diplomats and civilians” after “Canadian police services”.
I would like to thank the representatives of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada, the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, and the Royal Canadian Legion, who came to the committee and shared their insights with us. They provided the committee with a very detailed history of the movement of the Canadian Peacekeepers' Day and the significance of August 9.
If I may, I would like to offer special thanks to Colonel Don Ethell, the honorary president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, for his tireless work in this initiative. During his 38 year career in the Canadian military, Colonel Ethell served on 14 peacekeeping tours and other secondments to United Nations agencies.
After his retirement, Don has continued to serve his country and his fellow veterans with great energy and passion. He made an outstanding contribution to the development of the new veterans charter and today he sits as chair of the Operational Stress Injuries Social Support Advisory Committee.
I know that Don would prefer to give the credit to others, but today I want to thank him for really making a difference. I can say that Canada is a better place because of people like Don Ethell.
As members will know, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs is a relatively new committee of the House, but I am proud to say that all the members were united in working on behalf of our veterans. We are all inspired by their service and sacrifice.
I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing for bringing Bill C-287 forward to the House. We all share his desire to recognize the tens of thousands of Canadian men and women who have served our country and have made a significant contribution to international peace and security.
I can assure all members of this House that this government, more than any other in recent history, is committed to giving every possible support to members of the Canadian Forces. We are also committed to ensuring that Canadian veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they have earned and deserve. They have brought honour to Canada and we will honour them.
Since 1919, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have paused each year on November 11 to remember their brave countrymen and countrywomen who have given their all in the service of Canada. Through this national act of remembrance, we honour all veterans.
We honour those who served in war and those who served in peace. We honour those who served in all theatres of war. We honour those who have served in Canada, helping our communities respond to and recover from natural disasters. We honour those who continue to stand for peace and freedom in operations all over the world and most recently in Afghanistan.
This legislation constitutes a specific recognition of Canada's peacekeepers, who have so selflessly contributed to international peace and security. The concept of peacekeeping was a Canadian innovation. Our sterling reputation for peacekeeping is well-earned and is based on a long tradition, indeed, one that spans over five decades.
In 1956, Canada played a leading role in the first United Nations Emergency Force, which was established to secure and supervise the end to hostilities in the Suez crisis. That operation distinguished our country and earned us the Nobel Prize for peace.
Our effectiveness in upholding peace was recognized once again in 1988, when Canada shared in a second Nobel Peace Prize as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Our peacekeepers, and in fact all peacekeepers, continue to be recognized internationally on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, May 29.
It has been suggested that we should adopt this day as Canada's Peacekeepers' Day, but as we all know, it is August 9 that resonates nationally for us as a day of recognition for peacekeepers, for it was on August 9, 1974, that nine Canadian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt and Israel were in a Canadian Forces Buffalo transport aircraft that was shot down as it prepared to land at Damascus on a regular resupply mission.
On that day, there were no survivors. This represents the greatest loss of Canadian lives in a single day on a peacekeeping mission.
As we also know, nine provinces have now designated August 9 as Peacekeepers' Day. Ceremonies are held in communities across the country in honour of our peacekeepers, and now, with legislation, we will have a National Peacekeepers' Day.
Bill C-287 complements the other initiatives that have been taken to recognize and commemorate Canadian peacekeepers. Their contribution is commemorated in a very prominent way not far from this chamber. Reconciliation, the peacekeeping monument that sits on Sussex Drive, is still, I believe, the only monument of its kind in the world.
Our peacekeepers are also recognized by the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal. This award was created in 1997. It honours Canadians, primarily members of the Canadian Forces and members of Canadian police services who have served as peacekeepers. The Peacekeeping Service Medal is in keeping with Canada's traditional expressions of honour to members of the forces for their service.
Tens of thousands of veterans of Canada's peacekeeping and peace support operations wear this medal with pride. It is treasured by the families of those brave Canadians who have made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of peace.
The names of these brave men and women who have died in the service of Canada can be found in The Seventh Book of Remembrance. This sacred book, along with the six other Books of Remembrance, is found in the Memorial Chamber here in the Peace Tower. It is a special place of commemoration and reflection.
The Seventh Book of Remembrance is a testament to the often very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which our peacekeepers have served. On many deployments, there has been very little peace to keep and, unlike in times of war, the rules of engagement have been much less clear, if defined at all.
No matter what the circumstances, Canada's peacekeepers have strived to demonstrate exemplary discipline and professionalism. Often they must leave their families and homes behind, just as our veterans of the first world war, the second world war, the Korean war and the gulf war did.
With each deployment, they know their mission may require that they put their lives at risk. Canada's peacekeepers have courageously and selflessly served the cause of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. They have prevented wars and saved lives and they have contributed to international peace and security.
Through Bill C-287, we will honour their steadfast service, recognize their noble contributions and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
It was Winston Churchill who said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others”. That is the legacy of Canada's peacekeepers.
For more than 50 years, our peacekeepers have gone to the far corners of the world to help preserve peace. Their courage has given Canada a well deserved reputation for standing up for the values of freedom, tolerance, respect, dignity and the rule of law. We can only imagine the gratitude of those whose lives have been saved by the intervention of Canada's peacekeepers.
Veterans Affairs Canada has a special mandate to tell the story of those who have served our nation, both in times of war and times of peace, and to keep alive the memory of those who have made the supreme sacrifice.
Let me conclude by thanking my colleagues on the Standing Committee of Veterans Affairs for their support for this legislation. I would encourage all my hon. colleagues to help tell the story of our peacekeepers so that more Canadians, especially our youth, will better understand the significance of August 9, National Peacekeepers' Day.
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
Private Members' Business
November 15th, 2007 / 5:30 p.m.
Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON
moved that Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is not often that a member is honoured by his colleagues by getting a bill to third reading. We are here because the bill received unanimous consent of the House at report stage. I want to thank all of my colleagues for their support.
Bill C-287 honours our Canadian peacekeepers as well as all peacekeepers around the world. It is very appropriate that the House return its attention to the proposal in the bill to create August 9 of each year as National Peacekeepers' Day in Canada, especially as all of us have just finished helping our legions and our communities celebrate Remembrance Week and Remembrance Day.
I would like to underline that August 9 would not be a holiday, but a day of commemoration, a day of celebration of what our peacekeepers have done in the past and what they are doing today and what they will be doing in the future. On that day our citizens will have a chance to be reminded about what Canada has done in the world and what it can do.
The bill proposes that on that day the Peace Tower flag be lowered to half-mast. It is quite appropriate that the Peace Tower flag would be lowered at half-mast to recognize peacekeepers who have been lost in action throughout our 50 years plus of peacekeeping participation around the world.
I would also like to point out to my colleagues that my riding, now called Algoma--Manitoulin--Kapuskasing, contains the old riding of Algoma and Algoma East which was held by the late Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson. It is a special honour for me to bring forward a bill to honour our peacekeepers. This year, 2007, marks the 50th anniversary of Mr. Pearson's Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative at the UN.
Why in the first place should we remember and honour our peacekeepers and why on that day?
On August 9, 1974, nine Canadian peacekeepers deployed to the Middle East were killed on a routine supply flight from Beirut to Damascus. The airplane was shot down by ground-fired missiles and nine Canadian UN peacekeepers were lost, along with the crew of the airplane. We could have picked many dates. Some suggested, with great respect, May 29, which each year is celebrated as International Peacekeepers' Day, but August 9 is very much a Canadian day and reflects the most significant single loss of Canadian peacekeepers in one day.
If the House continues its willingness to support the bill, I am inviting Canadians, especially students, who would not be in school on August 9 but would be preparing for school, to take some time to reflect on what peacekeeping is all about.
We in this place and Canadians in general who think about these things recognize that peacekeeping today is not like it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago. Peacekeeping evolves with the nature of conflict. It evolves with the changing regions wherein conflicts are taking place. The reasons for local conflict change. Demographics change. The types of warfare and conflict change. Therefore, peacekeeping has to change and we have to change with the times.
I am convinced, and I am sure my colleagues are convinced, that ultimately peacekeeping and its related peacemaking are the ultimate, albeit altruistic sometimes, goal of our military and in fact of our Parliament and of our own individual work in life. If it is not about finding, making and keeping peace, then really, what is it all about?
I will take a moment to mention a constituent of mine, Robert Manuel of Elliot Lake, who inspired me with this idea. He helped to promote the idea in Ontario, which has celebrated August 9 as peacekeepers day for a number of years now. With his encouragement and support, we gathered the support of legions across the land. We now have the support of the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command for the proclamation of August 9 as peacekeeper day.
I will reference speeches made just over a year ago in this place by colleagues, speeches which I reread recently, and I was very impressed. I refer to the speech of the parliamentary secretary who made an excellent speech in support of the bill. She raised some very good points, but she reminded us that a day of recognition for peacekeepers, as is noted in the resolution by the Royal Canadian Legion in last June, was warranted because the government respected the views of Canadians on either side of the issue.
She is right to have said there is a concern. I recognize it and I think we deal with it head-on. When we have a day separate from November 11 to recognize some aspect of our military history, some aspect of our legacy, does that take anything away from November 11? I think the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command and local legions everywhere have recognized, no.
The parliament secretary was quite right in raising the question. The response is, and I think she agrees with this, any day we can establish as a day of recognition of our current soldiers, men and women serving in any capacity around the world enhances the spirit of remembrance. We are focusing on peacekeeping, but in a way all soldiers are peacekeepers regardless of the nature of a conflict.
I am not sure if my colleagues would agree, but in my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing the spirit of remembrance is getting stronger. The number of people coming out to events is larger and larger every year. That is because the remembrance brand, a brand promoted effectively and with great strength by the legions and the Dominion Command, is spread out throughout the year. Hence, the movement to Remembrance Week. I am not suggesting a remembrance year, but it is very important that we dot throughout the year other occasions throughout the year where people could be reminded and that helps focus attention even more so on November 11.
I appreciated the parliamentary secretary's comments in that regard. I was most impressed with my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, referring to our peacekeepers, who said:
First, they are a key component of multilateralism, a conflict resolution principle very dear to the hearts of Quebeckers. UN peacekeeping missions represent an impartial and very widely accepted way to share the burden and act effectively.
In fact, I recommend all these speeches to my colleagues in their complete version. I am only able to quote a little bit.
My colleague from Victoria, who spent time in the military, said:
We cannot stress enough the importance of the work of those who serve in the armed forces, who put themselves in harm's way for Canada. There is no word to describe the magnitude of their sacrifice, nor my feeling of gratitude—which all Canadians also share...
I think we all share that with her.
I go on to my colleague from West Nova who is fortunate to have in his riding the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. He spoke eloquently in support of this bill. I will quote from his remarks. He said:
Peacekeeping is a dynamic concept that responds to changes in the international environment in order to create security for those affected by conflict. Traditionally, peacekeeping took place between two states in order to monitor a peace treaty upon which all parties had agreed. These early missions were traditionally military in nature.
He makes a very important point that I wish to expand on. He stated:
The role of peacekeeping has expanded to include the delivery of humanitarian aid, supervision of elections, repatriation of refugees, disarming of warring factions, and the clearing of landmine.
I point out to my colleagues that in the “Whereas“ section, along with members of Canadian Forces, the bill specifically includes police services, diplomats and civilians. Yes, we are recognizing on August 9 the loss of nine soldiers in 1974 in the Middle East, because the beginning of this was focused on the military.
I mentioned we are evolving and now we engage Canadians in a broad range of professions and skill sets to assist, whether they are members of the NGO community, or municipal policemen who volunteered to help, or ambulance or first aid workers. Any Canadian, military or not, who supports Canada's efforts to bring peace, keep peace or make peace is a peacekeeper.
In the bill I deliberately did not define “peacekeeper”. Each person who thinks about these things can define peacekeeper in his or her own unique way. It is a comprehensive. That is actually the view of the Legion Dominion Command. It has an expanded view of peacekeeper, and I laud it for that. Somebody else may have a restricted view of peacekeeper. It does not matter, as long as what we are recognizing is the spirit of what peacekeeping is all about.
I invite this place from time to time, whenever we have debates on military and peace matters, and I invite Canadians every August 9 in particular to take a few moments to reflect on our legacy and where we are going as a nation of peacekeepers. Imagine being called peacekeepers. It is not the same as avoiding conflict.
I would include in peacekeeping the need to be strong and to root out the enemy where necessary. It is not simply sitting back all the time and letting local combatants fight things out. Each situation requires its own solution. It is important that we do not limit ourselves by a specific definition.
I want to underline too that this is not about what we are doing in Afghanistan whatsoever. That is a whole separate debate. I went to a support the troops rally on November 2 in my riding and I was glad to be there. I am sure many of my colleagues were at rallies in their ridings.
It was a non-political event. It did not matter if people believed that we should be in Afghanistan for years or, like so many of us, that the military should pull out of a combat role in February 2009 or tomorrow. That is not the debate. When people support their troops, they support their troops. They are doing a job for us. They are there with a mandate and while they are there in our name, we support them.
I want to pay tribute to Sandy Finamore and Bob Tardif of Elliot Lake who sponsored that rally. I commend them for the excellent work they did.
I want to point out that the bill at report stage had a few very minor amendments. It was made very clear that in Quebec les casques bleus is the standard terminology for a peacekeeper. Therefore, we made sure there was no misunderstanding between gardiens de la paix and casques bleus.
We make it very clear that this is not a holiday. It is not even a day of heritage. It is a day of recognition, of commemoration, a day to take time to understand what our peacekeepers throughout history, in the present and in the future will do.
I hope the chamber will continue its support of the bill when it comes to a final vote in the not too distant future.
National Peacekeepers’ Day Act
Private Members' Business
October 24th, 2007 / 5:45 p.m.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.
Committees of the House
May 3rd, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
Rob Anders Calgary West, AB
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, with amendments.
May 3rd, 2007 / 9:05 a.m.
The Chair Rob Anders
Good morning, folks.
We're at the point where we're going to be calling more witnesses with regard to the health care review. Part of that health care review, early on, was the study on post-traumatic stress disorder. This morning I thought it would be wise to give some suggestions to the men who will be writing that.
I also want to let people know that yesterday the clerk did a good bunch of work to make sure we have an ability to report on the private member's bill, Bill C-287. I was told by our whip's office that to negotiate at the last minute to remove the vote on proceeding, or allowing it to carry forward, was problematic. Today we have our meeting from 9 until 11. I have the ability to present it at 10 this morning, depending on how the committee goes. The other option is tomorrow at 12. I'm attending a wedding, though, so today at 10 is better.
May 1st, 2007 / 9:25 a.m.
Jack Frost Dominion President, Royal Canadian Legion
Mr. Chairman, honourable members of Parliament, and comrades all, obviously you know who I am. I am Jack Frost, president of the Royal Canadian Legion. I have with me Brad White, who is the director of administration at our headquarters.
I likewise am only here to add support to the peacekeepers in their bid for this. So on behalf of the 400,000 members of the Royal Canadian Legion, we fully support the passage of BIll C-287 in respect of a national peacekeeping day.
This past June, in Calgary, our convention delegates passed the following resolution, which I would like to read:
WHEREAS the Legion wishes to represent all veterans and recognize the significant contributions that they have made to Canada;
WHEREAS the Legion has issued a definition of a veteran which encompasses traditional war veterans, Cold War veterans, U.N. Peacekeeping veterans, Gulf War veterans and all serving Military personnel;
WHEREAS the Legion acknowledges that the public often refers to these veterans regardless of their background and service affiliation as “Peacekeepers”;
WHEREAS the Legion wishes to welcome and recognize all of these veterans as Ordinary members of the Legion;
WHEREAS the Legion acknowledges that the public wishes to recognize these veterans by the establishment of a “Peacekeeping Day”; and
WHEREAS the establishment of “Peacekeeping Day” would serve as a day of “Recognition” of the contribution and commitment of the Canadian Forces and not as a day of “Remembrance”:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Dominion Command petition the government of Canada to recognize all veterans as Peacekeepers and Peacemakers by declaring 9 August as a special “Peacekeeping Day”.
That motion or resolution was passed unanimously in Calgary, and I don't really think I can add any more to support my colleagues in this bid for this bill.
May 1st, 2007 / 9:20 a.m.
Ray Kokkonen National Vice-President, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
Mr. Chairman, respected committee members, guests, colleagues. I'm Ray Kokkonen, the national vice-president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, representing Tom Hoppe, our national president, who was unable to be here.
I regret not being able to wear my medals on such an important occasion; however, I was here in Ottawa on unrelated business, and there simply was insufficient time to get my medals from Trout Brook, New Brunswick, to here in two days.
In view of the very appropriate and comprehensive comments by my colleagues, I have only a very simple and short statement to make. The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association fully and strongly supports the enactment of Bill C-287 and the proclamation of national peacekeepers' day.
May 1st, 2007 / 9:05 a.m.
Ron Griffis National President, Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, committee members, and guests. My name is Ron Griffis, and I'm the national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping. On behalf of our association, I wish to thank you for giving us this opportunity to appear before this honourable committee, established in part to study Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day.
The proposed national peacekeepers' day act states that August 9 of each and every year shall be known as national peacekeepers' day. I appreciate that you are aware that the day of August 9 was chosen, as on that day in 1974 nine Canadian Forces peacekeepers were killed when their plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while en route from Beirut to Damascus on a regular resupply mission. There were no survivors.
This does not take away from the fact that Canada's first casualty on a peacekeeping mission occurred in 1951, when Acting Brigadier H.H. Angle of Kamloops, B.C., died in a plane crash in Kashmir on the border between India and Pakistan.
The Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping supports Bill C-287. A national peacekeepers' day would in fact remember those who gave their lives while on peacekeeping missions, as sponsored by the Canadian government and the United Nations Council, but also to commemorate the brave deeds of peacekeepers and to recognize the well over 100,000 Canadians who have participated in United Nations missions, and also to thank their families and the Canadian people for their support.
Participants in United Nations missions include but are not limited to members of the Canadian Forces. They also include members of the municipal, provincial, and federal police forces, diplomats, and countless civilians who have become peacekeepers and assisted peacekeepers on their missions.
Canadians are recognized as the inventors of peacekeeping. It has brought our country one Nobel prize for peace and the share of a second when the United Nations peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel prize in 1988. To date, I have not heard anyone opposed to establishing a national peacekeepers' day.
Although we have Remembrance Day, November 11 of each year, and some cities and most provinces and territories have recognized August 9 as a day to remember and honour peacekeepers, a national peacekeepers' day would not take away from the importance of the two dates mentioned. In fact, it would complement the dates, taking into consideration why they are there and our present position on the world stage.
The Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, established in 1997, is available to persons who have served on international peacekeeping missions. It is a relatively little known fact that the medal is available for those who may have served on any one of 114 peacekeeping missions. National peacekeepers' day is an opportunity to recognize and commemorate peacekeepers past, present, and future.
Canada's peacekeeping veterans have always sacrificed so much and given their best to ensure that our country remains strong, united, independent, and free. It would truly be an honour if the Canadian government announced that it would be taking another step to ensure that Canada is doing its best to recognize peacekeeping veterans.
Since receiving the invitation to appear before this honourable committee, and having shared the news with my colleagues in our association, I have received numerous messages of encouragement and hope that the national peacekeepers' day act would be passed. I have also received messages of excitement from the surviving relatives of those who were killed on August 9, 1974, in the hope that the sacrifices of their family members would be recognized on a national basis.
It is respectfully suggested that the terminology used in the French version of Bill C-287 be amended. To wit, the term “peacekeepers”, as written, is Casques bleus. The words Casques bleus translate in English as “blue helmets” or “blue berets”. It is suggested that the correct translation of “peacekeeper” in French is gardien de la paix. I understand, for those who speak French, Casques bleus is considered as a colloquial, unofficial, or a slang term.
It is probably a little-known fact that peacekeepers may wear a United Nations blue beret; a green beret from AMIS--that is, the African Union Mission in Sudan; an MFO orange beret, which would be the Multinational Force and Observers; or a EUFOR dark blue beret, from the European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just to mention a few.
If our association can be of assistance in any way to facilitate the passing of this bill, please do not hesitate to call upon me personally or upon any of our members.
In conclusion, if you have any questions or any areas you wish me to clarify, I'm prepared to be of assistance. Thank you.
May 1st, 2007 / 9:05 a.m.
The Chair Rob Anders
I hope everybody had fun doing their taxes yesterday. And now, going on to better and brighter things, we are in consideration of Bill C-287, Mr. St. Denis' bill respecting a national peacekeepers' day.
We've invited our witnesses, and I'm glad we've had as many of you show up today as we have. It's great. We have Ron Griffis, who is the national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping; Colonel (Retired) Donald S. Ethell, who is the honorary president of the Gulf War Veterans Association of Canada; Ray Kokkonen, the national vice-president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association; Gerry Wharton, who is with the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada Association; and both Jack Frost, dominion president, and Brad White, director of administration, for the Royal Canadian Legion.
Gentlemen, normally we do 20 minutes in total, but I think the way we've arranged it is that you can each take 10 minutes, if you see fit. I understand some of you will not be taking the full 10 minutes, and that's fine. You're allowed to take up to 10 minutes if you wish. After that, there will be questions from our members of Parliament.
The floor is yours.