Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Motion No. 306.
Prior to coming to this House I had the occasion to work closely with police officers in my work with Youth in Conflict with the Law. As well, when I was on Waterloo city council I had the occasion to work with firefighters in my community in Waterloo. Now, as a member of Parliament, I have in my constituency firefighters from the city of Kitchener as well as volunteer firefighters from Woolwich Township. They are one of the finest groups I have the honour and privilege of knowing.
As well, these people are on duty 24 hours a day. Be it Christmas, New Year or any other holiday, we know that firefighters, the police officers and other emergency workers are at work while the rest of us are enjoying festivities.
In many cases police officers are the only social workers, if you will, available after hours. It is quite humourous because the old line police officers did not see themselves as social workers. That is what they are and that is what they have done. These people represent a very real safety net in the case of emergency in our community.
When I was on city council I used to joke with the firefighters. I told them that they were one group of people who worked for the city whom I did not want to see work and I hoped they had no work to do. The fact is when that alarm bell rings and the call comes in,
firefighters are quickly on the move to make their way to a fire or to respond to a three tier response, where any emergency might take place where life is threatened. That might be at the scene of an accident where they will go with the jaws of life, saving lives.
What impresses me about them is every time they go on one of those calls they put their life at risk. It was about four years ago that Captain Kieswetter went to a house fire in Kitchener and lost his life when he was overcome by smoke. He gave his life in terms of service to his community.
Back in the mid-eighties there was a fire at Horticultural Technologies. Many dangerous chemicals were part of the fire. The final decision has not yet come down, since it is before the courts, as to why six firefighters a few years later died of cancer or why the first police officer at the scene died of cancer. There is an inquiry investigating the circumstances of that fire.
We know that when those individuals respond they respond to very dangerous situations.
Oftentimes I walk to the back of the Parliament Buildings to look over the Ottawa River and Hull. Sometimes I stop by the monument which is dedicated to police officers and peace officers. There are hundreds of names of individuals on the monument who gave their lives in the line of duty, serving their fellow citizens and their communities.
What this motion addresses is the need for financial compensation to take care of the families and loved ones of the people who are on the front lines and who in the line of duty give their lives.
I applaud my colleague for introducing this motion. It is something which Canadians will support from coast to coast to coast.
I would like to read something into the record which I hear every time I attend a professional firefighters function in my community. This is the firefighters' prayer all across Canada:
When I am called to duty God, Whenever flames may rage, Give me the strength to save some life, Whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child, Before it is too late, Or to save an older person from The horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert, And hear the weakest shout, And quickly and efficiently To put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and To give the best in me, To guard my every neighbour and Protect his property.
And if according to Your will, It is time to end my life, Please bless with Your protecting hand My children and my wife.
In a very real way that is what this motion is meant to accomplish. I strongly endorse it and urge that we work toward making it a reality.