House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was military.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary South Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have found a remedy to his concern about comments made by the NDP. I just no longer pay any attention at all.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, there have been extensive discussions with all the parties and you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that the first report of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, presented to the House earlier today, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Supply
Government Orders

October 21st, 2004 / 5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this important motion put forth by the opposition. I come from an area of the country in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour which is still largely a military community and the death of Lieutenant Saunders had a profound impact on us all.

I speak to this issue, not simply as a bystander but as an individual who grew up in an area like others in my area where many of my best friends, and dare I say many of my campaign workers, come from the military. The military is of great importance to me. I also wanted to speak today on the issue because I believe very strongly in the work that it does.

I came to Ottawa to support the interests of my constituents, to advocate on their behalf, and to challenge, when necessary, our government to do more. I stand behind the members of our military. I know of their loyalty, hard work and dedication, courage, skills and determination to keep our ships and aircraft operational, sometimes under less than ideal circumstances.

I came to Ottawa to not only look out for the interests of my constituents, but as an MP I also believe I am here to protect and to support the national interest as well.

Let me say in the strongest terms possible that I will advocate and defend the interests of the military in my area of the country. I will do so because this issue goes well beyond local interests. Our military and its support is an issue that affects us all.

I came to this Chamber to discuss solutions to our problems, including this issue. I would like to do so in concert with all of my colleagues on all sides of the House.

I believe the Prime Minister will act and continue to support the men and women in our armed forces. He has proven to me that he is serious about addressing this issue. As an example, one of his first decisions was to replace the Sea King helicopters.

We face challenging times in our world. Global security is paramount. It is necessary that we be prepared and equipped as a military to undertake the defence of our country, and indeed to defend the interest of global security when called upon by the international community, when the cause is right and only when the cause is right.

It is clear that our military has some of the finest soldiers in the world and must continue to receive the necessary support, and indeed enhanced support to meet our obligations here and abroad.

In the October 5, 2004 Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister committed to releasing a comprehensive international policy statement that reflects our government's intention to integrate our defence, diplomacy, development and trade efforts in order to assert our interests and to protect our values in a changing world.

The government is in the process of this review and upon completion the role of the Canadian Forces will be brought up to date and adequately funded as a result. I support the government in this regard. I urge, that in this process, that we be comprehensive and create an integrated policy that reflects our values as Canadians.

Some would argue that we have to earn our way in the world, and I agree with that. I am proud of our country because I know Canada is a respected country, a peaceful country. It is clear that ours will never be the biggest military force in the world, nor should it be.

It must be smart, strategic and focused with Canadian principles and values at its core, values that support diplomacy as the first and best solution to our global problems, values that speak to use of military as a last resort, not a first response, and only in circumstances that honour our principles and values.

The government is also committed to sound fiscal management and to ensuring that we invest in high priority areas, and there are many of those. Beginning with the 1999 budget, the Liberal government began investing new money in defence which by 2006-07 will amount to almost $11 billion. This demonstrates that we are serious about this issue.

Coming from a military area, I know and I hear of the strains placed on the Canadian Forces, and they are well-known. That is why I am pleased that the government is moving ahead to expand the size of the regular forces by 5,000 regular force members and 3,000 reservists. I hope and would support that we do more in years to come. Our election platform, the platform that I ran under and support, commits to providing new money to fund this initiative.

This increase will go a long way toward solving some of the problems associated with recent high operational demands, enhancing our ability to respond to domestic emergencies, and contributing to international operations.

I think it should be noted, and I suspect all members would agree, that the introduction of the tax exemptions of income earned by the military and police while serving in high risk international missions is a positive and important step to help our military personnel.

In April 2004 the government extended the tax exemption to all deployments except low risk missions. Our government's national security policy includes a six point plan to enhance Canada's maritime security, along with an investment of $308 million. As part of this plan we will be increasing the on water presence of the navy, as well as establishing the maritime security operation centres in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, my own riding, and Esquimalt. These centres will involve cross-department and agency coordination, and will include personnel from the Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the RCMP.

In recent months the government has announced an increase in the availability of reserves for civil preparedness, including their capacity to deal with natural disasters and local emergencies.

I am not here to blame people or to create problems, or to embarrass colleagues from years past. I believe strongly that we must all work together to be honest in the way we find solutions to our problems and to do what parliamentarians are called upon to do, which is to find solutions for national problems.

I believe we need to reinvest in our military, and I hope all members will work together to meet those objectives. Predecessors from my own riding of Dartmouth--Cole Harbour from all parties have left a strong legacy of support for our men and women in the military. There is Mike Forrestall, who was a member for 25 years, who is involved in the Senate defence committee. Ron MacDonald, who was visiting here today as a matter of fact, served in this Chamber for nine years and was one of the strongest supporters that the military had. Wendy Lill, my predecessor, with the New Democratic Party, was a strong supporter of military families and the military.

My commitment to military personnel is to ensure that they are properly trained, properly equipped, properly compensated and properly deployed. While I may disagree with members opposite on how our military should be deployed and in what causes they should be asked to serve, I support increased funding for our personnel. I believe our government is moving strongly in the right direction. It is my intent to ensure that we stay true to that course.

Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, freedom and democracy are important Canadian values and ones we have enjoyed throughout our entire history. Our history is instructive to us when it comes to the question of defence. Canada was formed largely by the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald, but in many ways in reaction to security threats that Canada faced at that time. There was a need for British North America to bind itself together in defence against threats from outside.

That has always been one reason for our military. However, we never believed as Canadians that all we worry about is ourselves, that our security lies only here in Canada. We believe that we have a worldwide obligation to advance freedom and to defend freedom because a threat anywhere to the free world, tyranny anywhere, is a threat to Canadians here and a threat to our world order.

I have heard people say we do not need the world's biggest military. If we look at Canada's history and our involvement in World War I, we came close to having one of the world's biggest military forces. Canada's nationhood was forged on the battlefields of Europe where so many gave their lives. That was when our country really reached its true status as a world player.

In World War II we fought unprecedented tyranny. Even after World War II, we have been key players. Korea was the very first United Nations action. It was not a peacekeeping action, it was a peacemaking action, advancing the cause of freedom and protecting against an authoritarian threat. In every case, our proud military tradition came to the fore. We had a military force that was able to step up to the plate.

Today, people are sometimes complacent about the freedom that we enjoy in Canada. We forget that role, duty and obligation we have to the future. In my view, Canada cannot forget that role. We have to work to advance the cause of freedom everywhere.

However, these days it is difficult. We have now had a series of conflicts where the Prime Minister and the government have stood up and said we cannot play our role, that we may believe in the cause but we do not have an equipped military capable of doing our part on the world stage to fight tyranny, to fight authoritarianism and to protect freedom. To me that is a sad reflection.

Does the hon. member think that we can see from this government the kind of changes that are necessary for Canada to once again play that role on the world stage, of advancing the cause of freedom and protecting liberty, not just here but abroad?

Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the sentiment the hon. member described and certainly the history of Canada's military personnel and the armed forces through the years, although there is perhaps a very big difference between the way I would see the role of our military and how some members opposite might see it.

I think one of the most important statements that we as a country have made in the last number of years was not to go to war in Iraq, to stand up for an independent Canadian foreign policy that is made here in Canada and that allows Canada to be independent in the world. It does not take anything away from the importance of the work our military people do. I stood at the dock in Halifax in 1991 when our ships went off to Desert Storm and I stood there proudly when they returned.

There is a role for Canada's military in the world and I think we can perform it. As I indicated in my speech, I believe we do need to put more money into defence, but I think we are perfectly capable of being a world player without going to war in Iraq.

Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know the government has indicated on numerous occasions that it has put more money into the military and it has increased the numbers of the forces and the reserves. I am curious to hear if the member is aware of what those actual numbers are for the increases to the forces and reserves. I am of the impression that although the government talks about increasing all these numbers, in actuality it really is not. There is no real effort for recruitment and retention. I would like to know if the member knows what those numbers are.

Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, in terms of specific numbers we have $300 million to help in the cost of deployed operations, $300 million for search and rescue aircraft, $3 billion for the maritime helicopter project, $700 million for the mobile gun system, and $2 billion for the joint supply ships, as well as putting in 5,000 new full time forces and the 3,000 reservists. So yes, I believe the numbers are there. I believe that we can back them up. I believe they make sense. I believe they make us stronger as a nation in the world.

Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that all day I have been listening to rhetoric from members opposite, and I was not going to stand up to comment because I thought that many people from our side of the House said very relevant things, but I could not hold myself back. I have to ask the member a question.

My father was in the Black Watch. He was a decorated World War II veteran. There is something that has not been mentioned here, and that is growing up in a family where one's dad spends most of his time in Deer Lodge, which is the veterans' hospital in Manitoba. It has not been mentioned how hard it is make a living growing up on a farm with one's dad away all the time.

As a former MLA in Manitoba and as a current MP in Manitoba, I am now dealing with veterans. As we know, there are few who are alive now, but I am dealing with veterans who are talking to me about the fact that they cannot get the proper false teeth, hearing aids or medical attention from this government.

With all due respect, I think it is a sad day in the House of Commons when I have to come here as a member of Parliament and the first thing I hear is about the death of a military person.

I tried today to stay out of things because I have to watch myself. It hits me very emotionally because of what I have seen first-hand as a child growing up and now as an MP, because, with all due respect, the military is neglected. One thing the member said really hit me. I could not hold myself back. The member said it and members opposite have talked all day about how well the military is being “taken care of”, and I heard tonight that everyone is being compensated.

With all due respect, I would like the member to explain to me how, in this day and age, right now, coming up to Remembrance Day, the veterans are being compensated in such a grand way. I want to be able to take that message back very specifically now to the veterans who do not have housing, who do not have their false teeth replaced when they need to, who do not have the hearing aids when they need them, who are sick--

Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour.

Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a question from the hon. member opposite. We have had the chance to be on a panel together as new members in the chamber. I certainly appreciate the generous tone of her question; it seems to have continued.

I think we do an awful lot for our veterans. I have already indicated that I think we should do more for our military personnel and I think we should do more for veterans. I think the guaranteed income supplement and increasing that also help veterans. There are a lot of things we do that help veterans across the country.

We will all be paying our tribute on November 11. I personally had the opportunity, since the opening of the House three weeks ago, to lay two wreaths with many veterans to commemorate the lives lost. While I have the opportunity, I would also like to mention to the House--

Supply
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but it being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to the order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion are deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26, 2004.

It being 6:15 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:15 p.m.)