Korean War Veterans Day Act

An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the twenty-seventh day of July in each and every year as “Korean War Veterans Day” to remember and honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadians who served in the Korean War (1950-1953) and performed peacekeeping duties following the armistice of July 27, 1953.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • May 8, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2013 / 11 a.m.
See context

Mississauga—Brampton South
Ontario

Conservative

Eve Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this chance to rise in the House in support of Bill S-213. As each one of us knows, respect for Canada's veterans unites our country as few other things can. We see it in this chamber every day, regardless of where we sit in the House or where we find ourselves on the political spectrum. Each of us understands the role of Canada's veterans, that incredibly important role veterans have played in building our great nation, not only by wearing our country's uniform but by being leaders and active members of our communities.

Canada' veterans are role models. They are men and women who have taught us the real meaning of character and courage, the real meaning of service and sacrifice.

I have thought about what we have debated regarding Bill S-213. As we have taken turns speaking, we have heard a lot about the Korean War. We know that more than 26,000 Canadians served during the war and that approximately 7,000 continued to serve in Korea after the armistice was signed in 1953. We have discovered that some Canadian troops were still boots on the ground in Korea as late as 1957, some seven years after the war began. We also know, sadly, that 516 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.

From a more global perspective, we understand that the Korean War was an important early test for the fledgling United Nations. We know the course of history could have been very different if Canada and 15 other member states had not committed combat troops to the UN's multinational force. We also know that it was imperative for the free world to take action to stop the threat of tyranny and oppression and to defend the right of all peoples to live in peace and freedom.

We all understand this. We accept the facts as they are. We recognize the significant place the Korean War holds in our history, but in doing so, we must guard against losing sight of some of the more important aspects of Bill S-213. We must not allow ourselves to be numbed by too many numbers or too many facts and figures. Most of all, we must remember that Canada's role in the Korean War was ultimately written by the more than 26,000 individual Canadians who stepped forward, all with their own reasons and all with their own stories of service and sacrifice.

This is what I want to focus upon with the time I have left today. This is why Bill S-213 is important to me. We can recount all of the strategic details of many battles and events, and what happened between Hill 355 and Hill 277. We can talk about the dangerous skies over the Korean Peninsula and the perilous waters off its shores, but the real story rests with Canadians who served in a war so far from their home. Theirs is the story of courage, the story of being afraid but carrying on anyway, day after day.

Most of us cannot begin to fathom what it is like to be dug into the side of a hill at nightfall, with the enemy lurking just several hundred metres away in the dark. Most of us cannot begin to imagine what it was like to serve in an extreme climate that could vary from monsoon rains to blazing heat or bitter snow, or to march over the foreign terrain of endless hills, swamps and rice fields.

I am reminded of the words of Sergeant Denis Lapierre, of our Royal 22nd Regiment, and what he said following the battle for the icy slopes of Hill 355 in November, 1951. He said, “We were there to fight, and if need be, to die. And we did”.

That is Canada's story in the Korean War, and it is told one person at a time. It is the story of Canadians who were cut down in the prime of their lives and families forever changed by a nation's loss, like Private Curtis Hayes, who never lived to see his twin girls, who were born after he had shipped out to Korea. His two girls grew up without knowing their father.

Canada's story is told through those who were wounded in body or soul or both, those who were never the same and those who were better for their service. It is told through Canadians who distinguish themselves, people like Tommy Prince, one of our most decorated aboriginal warriors. Prince was an Ojibwa from Manitoba who served in Korea with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He needed only 13 words to explain his service: “As soon as I put on my uniform, I felt a better man”.

That is what Bill S-213 really represents. It honours the very best of what it means to be Canadian. It recognizes that Canada's history in the Korean War is as proud, tragic and diverse as the individual Canadians who served. It ensures we will never forget their individual service and their personal sacrifice.

Without a doubt, we have heard at committee from veterans organizations and from veterans themselves that they are very proud of our government because we have taken action to ensure that the Korean War will never again be called the “forgotten war”. Rather, each and every Korean veteran will be forever remembered for their commitment and sacrifice.

As I close, I would like to quote from a poem written by Pat O'Connor, a Canadian stretcher bearer who would die the next day while tending to our wounded and fallen soldiers. Pat O'Connor wrote:

There is blood on the hills of Korea
It's the gift of the freedom they love
May their names live in glory forever
And their souls rest in Heaven above.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2013 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today in support of Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War.

This is an important bill intended to designate July 27 as Korean War veterans day nationwide.

I would further like to acknowledge the participation of my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore, the official opposition critic for veterans affairs, in the drafting of this bill. I also want to recognize the tremendous work he does every day with our brave Canadian veterans, as well as his sincere devotion to their cause.

I would also like to acknowledge the considerable work done by the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant as the deputy critic for veteran affairs. He is also very dedicated to this cause and works very hard on this. He was an excellent critic for this bill, and I want to express my appreciation for his efforts.

This is considered by many as the forgotten war, and to this day the great achievements and contributions of our brave Korean War veterans are still too often overlooked.

Yet, during this conflict, which lasted over three years, more than 26,000 Canadian soldiers joined the UN mission to help the South Korean people and stop this act of aggression by North Korea.

In this valiant struggle to defend democracy and freedom, 516 of these soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives, and of those who came home, many still bear physical and psychological scars that will never fully heal.

We must never forget their courage and dedication in the service of their country, as well as all the sacrifices that these men and women made to preserve peace in the world.

By marking July 27 as Korean War veterans day, we will help commemorate their bravery and honour them as they deserve.

I come from a military family, so Bill S-213 has a special meaning for me. My father is currently an active member of the Canadian army and my mother is a member of the Royal Canadian Navy reserve.

When I was a child, they started teaching me about the huge sacrifices made by members of Canada's military over the course of history, and they taught me that we have a duty to remember those sacrifices every single day, not just on November 11. That is an important date, but every day should be a day of commemoration.

My grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Norbert LaViolette, also had a career in the armed forces and was among the Canadian veterans who participated in the UN mission in Korea.

Now, a few days before his 90th birthday, I have the privilege of hosting him on Parliament Hill and paying tribute to him to sincerely thank him for his military service during the Korean War and throughout his career.

Lieutenant Colonel LaViolette enrolled in the Canadian Officers' Training Corps at Université du Sacré-Coeur in Bathurst in 1941. He enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and then transferred to the supplementary reserve a few years later. When he realized that he was not particularly fond of airplanes, he enrolled in the Canadian army in 1950 and started studying mechanical engineering at the Nova Scotia Technical College.

He was deployed to South Korea in 1953 and stayed there for one year, making him one of the 7,000 Canadian soldiers who helped keep the peace after the armistice was signed.

When he participated in the UN mission in Korea, my grandfather was 27 years old and was a lieutenant with the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. His unit's role was to provide front-line maintenance support for Canadian vehicles and weaponry.

We all know that our soldiers are dedicated and that they honour human rights and Canadian values. Whenever possible, my grandfather and his colleagues tried to help the poorest people in the villages surrounding their base. It was hard for my grandfather to see these people suffering and to see all the destruction left behind by the North Korean soldiers, who even killed all of the male animals in the livestock herds so that the villagers could not renew their food source.

I am very proud of my grandfather's military service and everything he accomplished in Korea. Lucky for us, the only visible scars he came back with were a fear of snakes and such a bad memory of the taste of the water that he still avoids it to this day.

Lucky for us, he came home and raised his family. He is still with us today and will celebrate his 90th birthday on Thursday. However, not all of our soldiers were so lucky. We need to remember them and all of the sacrifices they made. We need to remember all those whose names are in the Korean Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber within Parliament's Peace Tower. They sacrificed themselves for their country, and we need to pay tribute to them. Dedicating July 27 in their honour would be a wonderful way of doing just that.

However, we must also ensure that our veterans receive all the services they deserve after having given so much for their country in the service of democracy. I hope that they will get the support they need, as will Canadian legions, which need help. They have a difficult time providing services for their members and even keeping their doors open, yet they play a key role in ensuring that members' service is not forgotten. Legions also serve as a meeting place, a place of community. They offer support and organize funerals for veterans.

Those are the kinds of things we need in this country in order to pay just tribute to veterans and take care of them once they return. Many of them left everything behind to take up arms when Canada put out the call. When the UN asked, Canadian soldiers were there. They did not hesitate to join the Korean War. In fact, Canada sent one of the highest numbers of soldiers, per capita, to Korea. Those men and women sacrificed themselves. They went to the front lines and were ready to give their lives for the values we cherish here in Canada. They were ready to defend the ideals of freedom and democracy that we enjoy here and want to see established in every country on earth.

I am happy that all the parties of the House made such a concerted effort to move this bill forward quickly. If everything goes smoothly and this passes through the legislative process quickly, we could be celebrating the first official day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War this year, in 2013, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.

We have achieved this outcome today because all parties of the House were able to work together, thereby allowing us to honour people like my grandfather, people who truly gave their all in the service of Canada. It is a great privilege for me to have the chance to pay tribute to him today. I know that that time in his life had a tremendous impact on him.

Earlier I was talking about some of the bad memories he brought back with him. I am sure he had others that he never shared with his family, because soldiers sometimes experience horrible atrocities when taking part in armed conflict. We know this from our veterans returning from Afghanistan, for example. I had the opportunity to welcome some of them home to CFB Valcartier. Some of them were my age, and some even younger. Their experiences overseas will mark them for life. Some of them can no longer be members of the Canadian Forces because of what they went through while they were overseas. Nevertheless, we remember their sacrifice.

I welcome the initiative the House is taking through Bill S-213. Once again, I thank all of my colleagues in the House and those in the other place for their support. I hope this bill will pass quickly so that we can celebrate the first day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War in 2013.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2013 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to what is a very important bill. The member who spoke before me talked a lot about the support for Bill S-213. It goes a long way in recognizing what many Canadians have acknowledged for years, particularly our war vets, which is the important role Canadian soldiers played in Korea a number of decades ago. I believe that all members of the House of Commons support passage of this bill and want to see it passed as quickly as possible.

It is important for us to recognize July 27 as the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea. Most people are not necessarily aware that in the neighbourhood of 26,000 members of the Canadian Forces participated in the Korean War, of which 516 lost their lives. Another 1,558 were wounded. This year, 2013, marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice. The war began in 1950. Three years later, in 1953, in came to an end. Canadians continued to serve until roughly 1955 and some as late as 1957.

It was the first time the United Nations deployed members, and Canada was part of the United Nations. July 27 is the day designated a special day to acknowledge the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea.

My colleague from Charlottetown raised the issue of the impact of that particular war. If we want a good indication of the roles the United Nations and Canada played, we should look at where South Korea is today. I will quote what he said, because he said it quite well:

The progress South Korea has experienced in the last 60 years is nothing short of remarkable. It is now the tenth largest economy in the world. The capital, Seoul, is a world-class, vibrant city of 11 million people, with high-rises and modern infrastructure. It has hosted the Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cup. It is a world leader in electronics and manufacturing. We have all heard of Hyundai and Samsung.

South Korea has done exceptionally well in all aspects of being a modern society. North Korea is strikingly different. That part of Korean society has not done nearly as well in terms of progress. We need to recognize that Canada and the United Nations played a significant role.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when military forces from North Korea crossed into South Korea. For the first time in its early history, the United Nations became engaged, and forces were deployed under the UN flag.

Canadians, as I said, played a critical role during that war. We saw action in the battle of Kapyong and many others, beginning in April 1951. During that two-day battle, there were some 10 Canadians killed and 23 wounded. I know my colleague spoke at length, citing other battles that were fought where Canadians played a significant role.

I had the opportunity to serve in the forces. On Remembrance Day or in parades, quite often the highlight is put on World War I or World War II at military events. Many argued that we never gave enough attention to what took place in Korea. It is really only in the last couple of decades that there has been more attention given to Canada's role in Korea and the positive impact it had in that region of the world. In time, I suspect, we will see more recognition given to Korea.

Liberals see Bill S-213 as a step in the right direction in acknowledging those individuals who paid the supreme sacrifice and lost their lives while representing Canada and serving through the United Nations. As we move forward, I hope and anticipate that this bill will pass relatively quickly. I think there are many people watching who want this legislation to become law prior to the conclusion of this session for the simple reason that it would be wonderful to give that recognition on the 60th anniversary.

We in the Liberal Party recognize the importance of passing this legislation. We would like the legislation to pass prior to the conclusion of this session, whenever that might be, so that communities across Canada will be able to express their appreciation on July 27, marking the armistice agreement that was signed so many years ago.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2013 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War. If this bill passes, July 27 will be designated Korean War veterans day.

Bill S-213 originated as a Senate private member's bill introduced by British Columbian senator Yonah Martin. The bill passed third reading in Senate in March and is now in the final stages of debate before the House of Commons. Canada's New Democrats support this bill and its intent to support veterans and their families.

For too long, the contributions of Canada's Korean War veterans have been overlooked. More than 26,000 Canadian servicemen and servicewomen served in the Korean War; 516 of them made the ultimate sacrifice in what has come to be known as “Canada's forgotten war”. The role of Canadian troops in key battles, like Kapyong and Hill 355, demonstrated the courage and distinction with which our soldiers served. After the war ended in 1953, about 7,000 Canadians remained in Korea to serve as military observers until the end of 1955.

Canadian soldiers were the recipients of numerous awards for valour, including nine distinguished service orders, thirty-three military crosses, five distinguished flying crosses, eight distinguished conduct medals and fifty-three military medals. In addition, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation.

The Korean people have also expressed gratitude to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. In fact, when our veterans return to visit Korea, they are treated as honoured guests. Many veterans made the trip this year, including local constituent and decorated Korean War veteran Frank Smyth from Coquitlam who travelled to Korea to visit the war memorials and see how the country has developed over the past 60 years.

However, sadly, when soldiers returned home from Korea, their contributions were not recognized by their fellow Canadians in the same way as other veterans' contributions. It took 40 years before the Canadian government officially acknowledged the sacrifices made by our Korean War veterans who fought in a three-year-long war and watched too many of their fellow comrades die in battle. Veterans' groups like the Korea Veterans Association of Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion have been key drivers in the efforts to ensure that we do a proper job as a country of honouring the fallen soldiers of the Korean War as well as its thousands of veterans.

Thanks to their efforts, today Canadians can visit the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance in Brampton, Ontario, where a plaque bears the names of Canadians who died in service. Canadians can also visit the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower here on Parliament Hill, where the Korean War Book of Remembrance contains the names of all 516 fallen soldiers.

I would like to recognize the efforts of Port Moody resident Guy Black who led a multi-year campaign for Canada Post to issue a commemorative stamp of the Korean War. He assembled hundreds of letters of support for the application. He enlisted my help in the campaign, and I lobbied the Minister of Veterans Affairs as well as the minister responsible for Canada Post, both of whom were supportive. Unfortunately, Canada Post rejected Mr. Black's applications. I commend Mr. Black for his many years of hard work and dedication to this cause.

As we now look to designate July 27 as Korean War veterans day, it is important to note that the duty to remember is not only for one day, but for every day of the year. The same, of course, can be said for Remembrance Day. In fact, there is far more we can do as a society to pay tribute to veterans. Respect for soldiers can be seen in the Canadian government's treatment of our veterans through benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Much work remains to be done to ensure all veterans are given the honour and fair treatment they deserve. Assistance for veterans of more recent missions is particularly lacking.

Earlier this year, we heard the story of Colonel Neil Russell who, as a post-Korean War vet, was denied access to a veteran's bed in a long-term care facility. This policy is unacceptable and must change.

My mother-in-law Signe Radelet, who is 93 years young, is a veteran of the Second World War. She served three years in Kitsilano, Vancouver. She never received government support her entire life; now she does require support, such as a wheelchair and housing assistance. However, because she did not serve overseas, she is ineligible for government assistance from veterans affairs. Like so many other veterans, Signe served her country, asked little in return, raised her family, and now, near the end of her life, requires a little help. The government should be there to provide this help. It is the least it can do, given her contribution to Canada.

The treatment of Canada's Korean War vets should be a lesson in avoiding the practice of splitting up vets into different categories that receive different levels of recognition or benefits. The government should treat all veterans fairly, regardless of where or when they served. Some of these wrongs are slowly being corrected, like expanding the eligibility criteria for the Last Post Fund and returning unfairly deducted benefits to veterans, yet many are concerned that a quarter of a billion dollars in cuts to veterans affairs will hamper progress.

I hope the House will indulge me to take a moment to also recognize the important work of former MP and MLA Dawn Black, who drew much-needed attention to the problems of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries among soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. Dawn was an excellent representative for her constituents, and her legacy is great. I want to thank Dawn for her many years of public service, and I wish her and Peter all the best as they begin to enjoy their retirement years together.

Bill S-213 proposes to create a Korean War veterans day. I would like to reiterate the official opposition's support for this timely initiative. The year 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. It also marks 50 years of Canadian-Korean diplomatic relations, and Canada has designated 2013 as the Year of Korea.

Our countries' long-standing bilateral relationship is an important one based on co-operation in key areas like arts and culture, trade, democracy, human rights and tourism. Evidence of this can be seen in the constituency I represent of New Westminster--Coquitlam and Port Moody, which is home to a large, vibrant Korean-Canadian community.

I have also had the pleasure of being a member of the Canada Korea Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. This has afforded me an opportunity to play a small role in strengthening the friendship between our two countries.

I am pleased to support Bill S-213 at third reading and I look forward to its becoming law.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, the official opposition's veterans affairs critic, for his contributions to the early stages of this legislation and for his continued efforts on behalf of Canada's veterans.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2013 / 11:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues in the House today and at previous readings of this bill for their support. We had unanimous support for this bill at a standing vote on second reading.

I would like to thank my colleagues for their kind words. Sometimes people feel as though they might be all alone in having family affected by the Korean War. It was inspiring to hear that I am not the only member of this House with family members who served in the Korean conflict.

I would especially like to thank my good friend Senator Yonah Martin for spearheading this. She has been a stalwart supporter of our Korean War veterans. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her as she is doing what should have been done so long ago, which is rightly paying tribute to the Canadian Korean War veterans who fought so valiantly on behalf of the people of Korea.

I would like to thank the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, KVA Canada, for all they do in organizing all the events that are important in not only commemorating the Korean War and respecting our veterans but also in making sure our Korean veterans are well served.

I would also like to thank the Royal Canadian Legion, all branches, for their stalwart support of veterans in the broader scope, including, of course, our Korean War veterans. I could not be more proud of an organization in our country than the Royal Canadian Legion.

I would like to thank the men and women of our Canadian Armed Forces. They have my respect and the respect of all members of this country as they continue to do what those who fought before them have done so valiantly. They are always standing on guard for our country.

I would also like to thank the Government of South Korea for all that they do. I mentioned this in my speech. They have never forgotten the sacrifices that have been made. While we here in Canada might call this the “forgotten war”, I can assure members that in Korea they have not forgotten the sacrifices made by United Nations countries, Canada being one of them. I thank them for all they do, including the bereavement program that brings bereaved family members or veterans back over.

I have one little quick story. When I was in Korea last November, I had the opportunity to go to the United Nations cemetery in Busan, but due to some flight issues I missed the actual ceremony. I was over there with some veterans who had described Korea as shanty towns and bombed roads, and today it is 12-lane highways with high-rise towers everywhere.

In the area of the UN cemetery in Busan, the buildings are quite low to the ground. It is an anomaly. People have to look at it and see that there are no high-rises. It is because the Government of Korea has decreed that no building can be built that will cast a shadow upon the grave of somebody who fought and died on behalf of the people of South Korea. That is just one example of the reverence the people of Korea have for our veterans.

I would like to thank our Minister of Veterans Affairs, the parliamentary secretary and all members of the committee for making this the Year of Korea in Canada and also the Year of the Korean War Veteran. I would like to thank all of our ex-pats.

In closing, we had the privilege of playing a hockey game on the Rideau Canal this year. A bunch of Canadian ex-pats, through a picture, saw that the various divisions of the Canadian Armed Forces in Korea played hockey on the Imjin River. They have reconstituted this Imjin River Cup. I would like to thank Andrew Monteith and all the Geckos over there.

Whether it is through playing hockey or through other types of events that we commemorate, all of these things remind us of our past and past sacrifices, but also the good things that have come from those sacrifices, such as the freedom to do something simple, like engaging in a hockey game, without fear of any type of repression or oppression. It is just one little way that we can commemorate the great deeds done by the 26,000 members of the Canadian Forces who served in the Korea War.

I hope we can pass this bill at third reading today and do what should have been done so long ago, which is to have a national day commemorating the tremendous sacrifices and the absolute heroics of the Canadians who served during the Korean War.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

moved that Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and join my colleagues in support of Bill S-213, an act to establish Korean War veterans day.

I would like to offer a special thanks to my colleague the hon. Senator Yonah Martin, who proposed this legislation, and thank her for her tireless work on this initiative and for bringing Bill S-213 forward. I share her desire to recognize the thousands of Canadian men and women who have served our country and made a significant contribution to international peace and security.

I would also like to thank our Minister of Veterans Affairs for declaring 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran. I was encouraged to hear that the minister recently travelled with 36 veterans to South Korea on a commemorative trip. The minister's work ensures that the Korean War will never be thought of again as the forgotten war. I stand alongside the minister as he continues to stand up for Korean War veterans and all veterans.

I would like to thank the representatives of the Korean War Veterans Association for their support of this legislation.

I can assure all members of the House that this government, more than any in recent history, is committed to giving every possible support to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces. We are also committed to ensuring Canadian veterans are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. They have brought honour to Canada and we in turn will honour them.

On November 11, Canadians pause to remember their brave countrymen and women 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 and operations all over the world, most recently in Afghanistan and Libya.

This legislation constitutes a specific recognition of those who served in the Korean War and who selflessly contributed to the peace and security of the Republic of Korea in the years following the armistice.

The timing of this legislation is equally significant and appropriate. The year 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, a milestone worthy of recognition and reflection. In fact, the Prime Minister has declared 2013 as the Year of Korea in Canada in part to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, as well as 50 years of formal diplomatic relations between our two great countries.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs, as members know, followed the Prime Minister's lead by also declaring 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran in his department.

We are proud to honour Canada's veterans for what they have accomplished on land, at sea and in the air during the Korean War. That is why our government has presented certificates of recognition this year to Canadian Korean war veterans. We worked in partnership with the Republic of Korea last month to have 36 Canadian veterans of the Korean War revisit the battlefields where they had served. This trip was very important to these veterans. I will highlight Mr. Harry Marshall, a veteran of the Korean War who said, “It is with many mixed emotions that I take this journey, but it is important to honour all of those who served in this war 60 years ago.”

It is for these important reasons that the Minister of Veterans Affairs has promoted a full weekend to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice in Ottawa at the end of June.

The Korean War will always be an important chapter, a defining moment, in our country's proud military history. It deserves special recognition, which is why I urge all members to support this proposed legislation to create a national day in honour of Korean War veterans.

With my remaining time I would like to talk about the extraordinary service and sacrifice of Canada's veterans during the Korean War and begin by placing their efforts within a wider context.

As we all know, the First and Second World Wars touched Canadians in every community across this great country, from the largest cities to the smallest towns. Everyone knew someone who had served overseas. Too many had lost a loved one. Against the backdrop of those two great wars, the Korean War seemed a bit different. It was obviously shorter and smaller in scale with far fewer casualties, so how could it possibly compare with the two global conflicts? How could it command Canadians' attention the way the First and Second World Wars had? The hindsight of historians has helped us to understand the importance of the Korean War as well as its tragic impact on so many Canadian heroes and their families.

We now understand how critical it was for Canada and 15 other nations to provide combat troops and halt the spread of tyranny and oppression. I do not think there is anywhere other than the Korean Peninsula where that halt of oppression and tyranny is better shown in the world today.

Bill S-213 would ensure we forever remember the courage and sacrifice of the more than 26,000 brave Canadians who served during the Korean War and the approximately 7,000 who continued to serve after the armistice was signed in 1953.

Through Bill S-213 we can guarantee that future generations of Canadians never make the same mistake of treating the Korean War as anything less than the devastating war that it actually was.

Of course, Canada's veterans of the Korean War have never forgotten the 516 Canadians who gave their lives in service during the Korean War; the 516 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice defending the right of all people to live in peace and freedom. They have never forgotten their comrades who were wounded in battle or the families forever changed by war. They have never forgotten what they witnessed and endured, from the terrible human suffering to the terrifying violence and unending hardships. They remember the overwhelming odds they faced as they were greatly outnumbered on rugged and foreign terrain. They remember the local families fleeing from their homes with only what they could carry on their backs; young children following, hungry and scared. They remember the atrocities, the executions, the purges and massacres that also left countless civilians dead.

In short, Canada's veterans know the brutal truth about the Korean War. They are our clearest window into a great tragedy and, sadly, the passage of time is taking its toll on these Canadian heroes. Only about 10,600 of Canada's Korean veterans remain, most in their eighties or at least very close.

We have an urgent duty as a nation to preserve their stories and to ensure future generations actively remember. The Minister of Veterans Affairs has taken a very active role in ensuring that Canadians are educated about the sacrifices and stories of Korean War veterans. A national day to honour these veterans will help us do that. Korean War veterans day would inspire Canadians to explore our proud past and learn more about the contributions and sacrifices of such a remarkable group of men and women.

When support came to the Republic of Korea in 1950, Canada responded in numbers exceeding what the world might have expected from our country with its relatively small population. What is equally amazing is that many of the Canadians who served in Korea had already served in the Second World War. They had already witnessed unspeakable horrors and experienced great personal loss. They already knew the terrible cost of freedom and they were still willing to pay the price again. That is what made these seemingly ordinary Canadians so truly extraordinary.

They willingly travelled halfway around the world to serve in a foreign land; a land unlike anything most of them had ever seen. I am sure each one of them had his or her personal reasons for going, but I also believe they were united in their sense of purpose, and I am sure they would have echoed the words of statesman Edmund Burke who once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I can only guess at how the course of history may have been different if Canada and her allies had done nothing, if we had stood by and let evil triumph.

We can paint many different pictures of what life in Canada would be like today if the United Nations had not stepped in and if North Korea had not been stopped in its tracks. Quite frankly, it is possible we would not even be here in this chamber today as elected officials in a free and democratic country, if not for the courage of men and women who answered the world's call so many years ago.

That is the legacy we have inherited from our soldiers, sailors, flyers, nurses, doctors and aboriginal veterans who distinguished themselves in a far-off war. We are the direct beneficiaries of their service and bravery. We are only able to serve here today because they served when Canada called upon them. We understand our debt in a very intuitive way, which is why I am so proud to support this bill.

I want to talk briefly about my own personal experience.

I had the privilege last fall of going to Korea with a number of Canadian Korean War veterans and seeing the cemetery in Busan, the United Nations cemetery. I participated in the service with those veterans and from the stories they told me, I could see how much that experience meant to them.

The Government of Korea and the people of Korea have certainly never forgotten. In fact, when I went to the national war museum in Korea, I could hear children laughing because it was required for so many young people to come through that museum and see what Canada and other countries had done. The names of every soldier who died in the Korean War are on placards outside adorning the entranceway and on various columns and pillars. There are some 40,000 U.S. soldiers and, of course, the 516 Canadians who died or were killed in action, and some 50 who died in service after the armistice was actually signed.

I am very grateful to my colleague, Senator Yonah Martin, for giving me this opportunity.

What I have in my hand is not a prop, and I do not want anybody to get the notion that is. It is an obituary that has been on the wall of my house that I have had the opportunity to read many times as a youngster growing up. I am doing this right now for my grandpa Don and my Calkins family. It will be tough for me read this, but I will do my best.

It states:

Corporal James Alvin Calkins, 25, formerly of Rocky Mountain House, is the second Albertan to die in the Korean War. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Calkins, received word from the defence department that he had died of wounds received in the battle. He served with the Lord Strathcona's Horse in the second great war and for a time in the reserve army. On November 20th, 1950, he was sent with the 2nd battalion of the Princess Patricias to train at Fort Lewis, Washington. He was a member of C Company. Surviving besides his parents are his two sisters, Miss Bertie Lloyd of Nordegg and Miss Jo Fredine of Rocky, two brothers, Joe of Rocky and Donald of Lacombe. Another brother, Robert, was killed in action in the Italian campaign.

There were many families touched by the Korean War, and the Calkins family was one of them. I am really glad to have the opportunity to present this bill in the House today. I hope it has the unanimous support of all my colleagues.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to thank my colleague for a heartfelt and indeed stirring speech.

I wear a ring that was on my grandfather's hand when he lost his leg at the Battle of Drocourt-Quéant in 1918. I am well aware of the need to remember and honour our family members and fellow Canadians for what they have done over the decades for this country and indeed the larger values that they fought for.

I want to make one link. The hon. member noted that the Korean War was mobilized through the United Nations. In that same decade, the 1950s, another great Canadian, Lester Pearson, also helped mobilize the United Nations to bring to an end the Suez crisis. What we did in the Korean War and what happened at Suez deserve to be much better known by Canadians.

I thank the hon. member for bringing this bill forward. I had no particular question, just a comment.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Korean War in the 1950s, with the United Nations action, was a different time. It was a different era. It took a lot of leadership from all of our allies that were over there.

I want to thank my colleague for his personal input into this. It is a difficult thing for families and descendants to deal with. I am several generations down and it still affects me to this day. They are family members whom I have never met and never will have the opportunity to meet. I wonder how many other family members I would have had, had they survived. It is with great pleasure that I accept his comments.

Moving forward, we have to do everything we can as a nation to remind current and future generations of the tremendous sacrifices that were made by those who came before them. This bill would help to do that. I thank the member for his support.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
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Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, like the member, I have family members who participated not in the Korean War but in the Second World War. Obviously, the sacrifices that not only those individuals but their families made are of utmost value to all Canadians.

I would like to ask the member if he could comment on how he and his other family members came to the decision that this is something that should be memorialized. Why is this the focus for him and his family? Why is this so meaningful not just to himself but possibly to his children and other family members? Why does he feel so passionately about bringing forward this private member's bill?

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously the personal link for me to the Korean War is a matter of public record. It is something that I am passionate about simply because I do not think it has been well documented. It is called the forgotten war. I made comments on that in my speech. However, I can say that for those who served in Korea and for the family members of those who served in Korea, it is not a forgotten war. For too long Canada brushed it aside as a United Nations action. I think it was called a policing action at the time, when the reality is that it was an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.

One only has to read a book about the Korean War, for example, Triumph at Kapyong by Daniel Bjarnason, which is a fantastic read if anybody has an opportunity to do that. We had our Thermopylae in Korea and it is called the Battle of Kapyong. I did a statement about it here a little while ago. Seven hundred Canadians of 2PPCLI, the same regiment that my great-uncle was a member of, stood in the face of thousands where all others had failed. Seven hundred stood in the face of an onslaught of aggression by thousands and thousands of enemy soldiers, and they held their position for several days. They were only a few kilometres north of the current place where Seoul, Korea is.

It is an absolute travesty that we have not actually learned of the tremendous heroic measures. These guys were all volunteers who went over there. They all volunteered to sign up for this. They went over there and did yeoman service.

Nowhere else in the world today is there a more distinct delineation between triumph in a battle and what happens when we fail to preserve liberty, peace and freedom for individuals. The stark contrast is no better displayed anywhere in the world today than the Korean Peninsula.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to stand today and speak in favour of Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War.

The bill would designate July 27 as Korean War Veterans Day to remember and honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadians who served in the Korean War and performed peacekeeping duties following the armistice of July 27, 1953.

July 27 was chosen because the Korean War armistice was signed on that day in 1953, putting an end to three years of fighting. The contribution of Canadian veterans of the Korean War has gone unrecognized for far too long.

This war started shortly after the end of World War II. Unfortunately, historians did not give the Korean War the importance it deserved, given the magnitude of World War II. As a result, the Korean War was too often forgotten.

This bill will again focus attention on the Korean War and do right by our veterans who fought in this war by giving them a day of commemoration to remember the sacrifice they made for Canada and South Korea.

This bill is in addition to the January 8, 2013, announcement by the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who declared 2013, which marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, the Year of the Korean War Veteran.

Designating 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran will allow Canadians to pay tribute to the 26,000 Canadians in uniform who came to the aid of South Koreans during that war. We will also be able to honour the 516 Canadians who died in service, defending the values of peace, freedom and democracy on the Korean Peninsula.

The NDP will support this bill because we want to highlight and commemorate the significant contribution made by our armed forces and our veterans, as well as the sacrifices made by their families during this major war.

I would like to congratulate the members from all parties and the veterans groups that worked together to create this bill.

Our critic for veterans affairs, the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, also took part in the drafting of this bill from the beginning. He suggested some improvements that were accepted right away so that everyone could support this important bill in order to do justice to the veterans of the Korean War. Everyone was able to work together for once. It is nice to see that, now and again, we can all contribute to the drafting of a bill.

I would also like to give some general background information on the Korean War conflict. Anyone who would like more detailed information can consult the Veterans Affairs website, which gives an excellent description.

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union occupied North Korea while the Americans moved into South Korea.

After a communist government had been established in the north and a democratic government in the south, tensions between the two governments grew to a climax and, on June 25, 1950, the military forces of North Korea crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. This marked the beginning of the war.

The newly formed United Nations decided to enter into its first armed intervention. Thus, 16 member nations, including Canada, would contribute military forces under the command of the United States.

Early in July 1951, ceasefire negotiations began. However, it was not until 1953 that peace was finally restored on the Korean Peninsula with the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953.

It took two more years of negotiations and combat before peace was finally restored, when the armistice was signed at Panmunjom.

As I said, more than 26,000 Canadians were deployed in Korea, including the sailors on eight destroyers and the aviators who took part in numerous combat and transport missions.

I would therefore like to point out that Canada’s contribution was among the largest of all the nations that participated in that conflict. I would also like to point out that the duty to support applies every day, and not just on national memorial days or during Remembrance Week.

In my opinion, tributes from the government are not the only way to honour our veterans. Obviously, the respect we have for our soldiers and how we commemorate our veterans can also be seen in how the government treats them through the services offered by Veterans Affairs Canada.

The NDP listens closely to what our veterans need and are asking for. In fact, our leader has met with a number of veterans’ groups, as recently as this afternoon. That is how we keep in touch with Canadians and listen to what they need.

In my opinion, the best way to honour veterans is to treat them fairly. Today, for example, the compensation they are paid when they are injured does not treat them fairly. If they had been injured in a different workplace, various labour boards would have given them a lot more compensation than they receive at present. One of the best ways of paying tribute to our veterans is to treat them fairly. That is why, as the new charter is about to be revised, I call on the government to sit down with veterans and listen to what they are asking for, because there are a number of things to be done to improve the new charter.

In conclusion, we are supporting this important bill to give the Korean War and the veterans of that war a day so that it is no longer a forgotten war. This is a significant bill, and we thank the person who introduced it. I hope we will give this bill our unanimous support.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2013 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I begin my speech by acknowledging the work of Senator Yonah Martin, who has championed and introduced the bill in the Senate.

The Korean War and armistice have special meaning for Senator Martin, having been born in Seoul, Korea, and being a recipient of Korea's Order of Civil Merit Moran Medal.

The Liberal Party joins with the government, the New Democrats and the Green Party in support of Bill S-213. The bill would mark each July 27 as a special day to acknowledge the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea, and to honour our soldiers who went there in the service of their country and in support of the United Nations.

Last month, I was included in that delegation that the member for Wetaskiwin referred to, which went to South Korea to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. I was there with 36 veterans and their caregivers. It was a very moving experience. I am grateful to have the opportunity this evening to share with the House some of my thoughts about that trip.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the military forces of North Korea crossed into South Korea. Canada, operating under the United Nations, contributed significant combat forces to defend South Korea, and as the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth pointed out, this was also a very, very important day in the early history of the United Nations. It was the first time that a United Nations force was deployed, fighting under the United Nations flag.

There were many fierce battles during this conflict, and many soldiers paid the ultimate price. Canadians played a critical role during the war and saw action in the Battle of Kapyong in April 1951. During that two-day battle, 10 Canadians were killed and 23 were wounded.

In late October 1952, in a place referred to as Little Gibraltar, Canadians fought bravely, as they did in Kapyong, and held their own against a determined North Korean enemy.

There are many other stories of bravery and heroism. In total, more than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War, and 516 young Canadians died in the service of others and in defence against aggression.

Two other stories about the Korean War also stand out. It was an especially sad day on November 21, 1950, when 17 soldiers of the 2nd Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery died in a train crash in British Columbia. These 17 soldiers were on their way to Korea. They were ready to take up the challenge and the call to service that would have taken them into a war zone. We cannot and shall not forget those 17 soldiers so tragically lost on that day.

The second relates to the contribution of Canadian women during the war. Not unlike the Second World War, women once again stepped up and played a vital role in the service of their country and to the war effort. More than 5,000 Canadian women served during the Korean War. They, too, bore witness to the brutality of war, many of them helping to nurse wounded soldiers. We think of them for their courage and sacrifice to Canada.

It is true that there was an armistice in 1953, but hostilities are still evident. While I was there, I was struck that just a mere hour north of Seoul, one is confronted by barbed wire fences that line the waterways. Heavily armed checkpoints are frequent and staffed around the clock. Spiked barrels prevent the easy passage of vehicles.

The demilitarized zone still has minefields and explosives set to destroy bridges and roads literally with the flip of a switch. Observation points continue to monitor movements of the enemy all along the 38th parallel. This is just in South Korea.

A state of alert continues to exist along the border. Not much is known, really, about North Korea, because of the tight control exercised by that regime. What we do know tells us a story of great poverty, human rights abuses and a country intent on continuing its nuclear weapons program.

It is my hope that one day this armistice will lead to a permanent and lasting peace, a peace that will allow for these two proud nations to set aside the past for good, for the good of harmony and prosperity.

Having been there, I can say there are a couple of encouraging signs. There is indeed an industrial park in North Korea that is operated with the cooperation of the two governments, with managers coming from South Korea and workers in the north. There also is a ministry of unification within the South Korean government, strangely enough.

The progress South Korea has experienced in the last 60 years is nothing short of remarkable. It is now the tenth largest economy in the world. The capital, Seoul, is a world-class, vibrant city of 11 million people, with high-rises and modern infrastructure. It has hosted the Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cup. It is a world leader in electronics and manufacturing. We have all heard of Hyundai and Samsung.

Again, what information we do have from North Korea indicates that this communist country has not fared nearly as well.

There is no question that the Canadian and UN veterans can take pride in and credit for the remarkable progress South Koreans have experienced over the last 60 years. South Korea has gone from being a recipient of foreign aid to a contributor. Canadians have helped a world citizen achieve its potential. It is the international community, not just the South Koreans, that is better for it.

The South Koreans have not forgotten. Everywhere the Canadian delegation went in Seoul, Busan, Kapyong and points in between, there were civilians waving, smiling and thanking us. Those smiling and acknowledging their Canadian heroes did so in a way that movingly broke through the language barrier. That was completely separate from the official, formal and military expressions of gratitude that were extended. Everyday citizens reacted to our veterans in a way that was spontaneous and heartfelt.

I should acknowledge the Minister of Veterans Affairs who led our delegation of Korean War veterans in Korea. We were there, as I indicated, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The minister included representatives from each of the opposition parties. The bipartisanship he has shown in this and in other commemorative events is a good example for his caucus and his cabinet colleagues.

We do not know when this conflict will finally end. We do hope that one day North Korea, a place of repression and secrecy, will begin to open up and allow more freedom and the protection of human rights.

We also hope that one day the sacrifice made 60 years ago by Canadian soldiers and others in defence of freedom will result in better conditions for the people of North Korea.

I again want to congratulate the government for bringing this bill forward to the House of Commons and, again, thank Senator Martin for her service and dedication to the people of Korea and for efforts to make this special day to mark the end of the Korean War a reality.

Korean War Veterans Day Act
Routine Proceedings

March 18th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

moved that Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, for seconding the bill. To my knowledge, he is the only member of Parliament sitting here who has not only had a distinguished military career but is an Afghan war veteran as well. I would like to thank him for his support of the legislation.

I am introducing private member's bill, Bill S-213, an act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War. The bill would designate July 27 each and every year as Korean war veterans day to remember and honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadians who served in the Korean War. I would like to thank my colleague, Senator Martin, for her active and positive role in this file.

Canada's remembrance of the Korean War is one that should be brought to bear given the significant battles that happened there and the number of Canadians who lost their lives in Korea. Also, given that this is the 60th anniversary of the armistice and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, I would appreciate the support of all members in getting the bill passed speedily in the House.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the first time)