Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gary, thank you very much for bringing this issue forward. I thank you and the people around you for the work you've done on this project.
As you're aware, I've had a bill in the House of Commons for several years now, Bill C-208, which goes further than your particular legislation. I just want to start off by saying that you're right: all medals are important. And the reason the government gives people medals, especially our heroes of the country, is because of duty, valour, honour, sacrifice, and service.
But most importantly, the men and women of the service, and those of the police forces, wear their medals. We have 118,000 people who no longer have the chance to wear their medals--or they never got a chance to wear them, as in the case of our Afghan heroes.
When the government gives these medals to these men and women, these heroes, they're not giving them currency. That's not a hundred dollars they have hanging from their chests. So the problem I have with your bill--and I say this with great respect--is that you have put fair market value in your legislation. You've even put sellers in there. This is the problem I have.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've always opposed the selling of medals of any kind, under any circumstances. As you're aware, the Order of Canada, which is one of Canada's highest honours, is not allowed to be sold; it is not allowed to be put on the mercantile system.
I know that I'm probably in a minority here in thinking this way, but I don't believe that any medals, under any circumstance, should be sold. As you know, current personnel who are serving now and who receive medals cannot sell them while they are serving. They can only sell them after they leave the service. You're probably aware of that.
So you're right. In many cases, they're handed off to the children who don't know about them, and they sell them at flea markets, garage sales, or on eBay. You and I have travelled enough and we've seen these. I have worked very closely with Mr. Thompson on this. I don't know what the budget of the War Museum is, but I know the War Museum's budgets aren't unlimited, and I know the government has to make choices. The minute we put a value on medals, I think we diminish the actual meaning of what that medal is. That's my personal opinion.
My first question for you is this: do you think medals should have a fair market value?
I have a second question for you. In Bill C-208, which is, in many ways, reflective of what you're trying to do, would you be at all conducive to a discussion later on between your office and my office of possibly working the two bills together to achieve what you're trying to achieve, which is the cultural significance of the medals and also the point of trying to avoid these falling into the mercantile system?
I have no problem with people giving medals to collectors, museums, churches, or schools. We have two schools in Nova Scotia that have hallways full of medals and shadow boxes and they're beautiful. It's not just museums that can do this.
So my second question leads to this: would you be willing to look at Bill C-208 to see where there are some similarities that we can work together on? Again, I know that I'm probably speaking as a minority, but I just don't believe that medals should have a cash value to them. I just have a problem with that.
Thank you. Maybe you can help me with my problem.