Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words in support of MotionNo. 306 from the member for Mississauga South. The motion calls upon the government to participate in establishing a foundation which would be self-funded, not funded by government, in a way that would provide some compensation at the time of death of a peace officer or firefighter.
The concept is one whose time has come. Beyond all doubt, Canadians realize that we have a moral obligation to recognize the extremely valuable and sometimes very risky work done by police officers and firefighters on our behalf 24 hours a day. It is beyond debate. All parties have recognized that adequately in the House.
Some places in the country do have adequate compensation for widows and orphans, the survivors of the deceased, but some places do not. We have a spotty non-comprehensive system to provide this type of compensation.
The proposal would create a vehicle which would be the trustee of funds provided by gifts or legacies whereby compensation would be made. It does not require government management. The fund will be managed with its own resources by people selected by the foundation.
Is there a jurisdiction problem? Some members seem to think so, but I do not think so. I think jurisdiction is being used as a reason for further study. I do not think jurisdiction is a problem here any more than it was a problem when Parliament set up the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. In that case an arms length foundation was set up. We gave it $10 million of taxpayers' money and said: "Here. You are on your own. Go do your job. Here is what you do. Report to us annually. Do a good job for Canadians".
In this case there will not be a nickel of taxpayers' money. We are simply providing the vehicle. I do not quite understand how this could be a jurisdictional problem. Maybe someday we will see through the fog.
This particular initiative signals a need for leadership to put in place a vehicle which is necessary. It is a need which has been recognized by groups and organizations that represent our peace officers and firefighters. For those who choose to serve the public in the way that peace officers and firefighters do in accepting the risks that are there, we can do no less than to encourage and participate in the effort.
Although something concrete may not follow from this particular effort in the House this evening and the valuable contribution by the member for Mississauga South, I am hopeful that creative ways can be found, that the leadership can be found in and around this capital. I am sure there are ways to do this with or without the participation of the government.
I am fairly certain that no matter what happens, any initiative that evolves will have the support and encouragement of the government. I intend to work with those who will continue to look to find a way to make this happen.