Mr. Speaker, with their return to Parliament Hill the merchant marines' fight for justice continues. It is very disturbing today to see that the concerns of the merchant navy veterans remain unresolved many years after faithfully serving their country. The current treatment of merchant marine veterans is one that I personally, and as the federal NDP spokesperson for veterans affairs, find deeply disheartening.
Just as other brave Canadian service personnel, the merchant marines served our country proudly and steadfastly. They risked their lives to transport to our armed forces the necessary provisions for war. Our merchant marines paid a high price for their service, suffering a higher rate of loss in the second world war than any other branch of the Canadian services. Yet the surviving veterans have received and continue to receive unequal treatment at the hands of this government. When it came time to serve their country, Canada's merchant marines did so with dedication and courage equal to their military comrades.
Why then are the merchant marines not receiving equal treatment in terms of veterans benefits and access to programs and services? There is no reason to continue to deny the merchant marines the rights and benefits due them. I urge—