Mr. Speaker, first let me congratulate the hon. member for Saint John for her tireless efforts in support of our men and women who are currently in the military, as well as our veterans corps and the reservists. For as long as I have known the hon. member, previously when she was the mayor of her town and now as the member of Parliament representing her area, she has stood up valiantly and courageously for the men and women of the military. For that she deserves our deepest applause.
I have a concern with the motion put forward today. I absolutely agree that more resources must go to the military, even after a full review, but the reality is that the motion before us is so vague that if the Liberal government puts in just one extra dollar, it will have met the conditions of the motion. That is not what I believe the member would like to have in the motion. I think she would like a constructive effort by the government. For that matter, all members of the House would like to have a constructive debate and dialogue about the future of our military, its resources and its capability domestically as well as its capability and alliances not only with our greatest trading partner, the United States, but with our other allies around the world as well.
The hon. member for Nepean—Carleton, the chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, has done yeoman's work in being very pragmatic in his approach to bringing the five parliamentary parties together to try to reach a consensus on what is the best approach for the future of our military. For that he deserves our applause. I find him to be a very credible and fine chair of our committee. I hope he will regain that position when the committees resume sitting.
Many groups, the Conference of Defence Associations, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, the Senate committee and many individual Canadians across the country have encouraged the government to allocate more resources for our military. Recently, a woman from Calgary, Ms. Corrie Adolph, put forward a petition on this issue. They all should be complimented.
At the same time, these same voices are also saying we cannot just allocate x number of dollars to a particular department under the authority of the Liberal government, because we know most of it will get wasted without a clear direction and, I would suggest, a new white paper. It does not have to drag out for years. We have the expertise internally and externally and from all political parties. We need to get together for that desperately needed forum to ensure that the additional resources that go to the military are spent with the future in mind while considering the current conditions of our military personnel and the reservists.
I also want to pay special homage to a wonderful woman from Nova Scotia who will be the Silver Cross Mother. Doreen Coolen from the Hubbards, Nova Scotia area will lay the wreath as the Silver Cross Mother. I want to pay her special thanks and homage for the great service she will provide on Remembrance Day. Her family went through a terrible tragedy when her son passed away in Afghanistan. She will have the honour of coming to Ottawa and, on behalf of all Silver Cross Mothers in the history of our country, laying a wreath at the wonderful Cenotaph here in Ottawa. What a special tribute she will be paying to all the current military personnel as well.
I and others in the New Democratic Party are asking what is our position on the military. Some people say that the NDP and the military is an oxymoron, but that simply is not true. Many people in our party have fought long and hard to address the serious concerns of our military with the present government and previous governments as well.
Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the cancellation of the EH-101 contract, the Sea King replacement. Nine years ago that was cancelled. As we speak, there is not a word on when those Sea Kings will be replaced. Just as important, our vessels desperately need to be replaced. They need to be replaced as soon as possible. Not only would this be an investment in our military and our country, it would be an investment in jobs in all the shipbuilding cities not just in Atlantic Canada, but across the country in Lévis, Quebec, in Welland, Ontario and in British Columbia.
I have always said that an investment in the military is an investment in one's country. We cannot talk about sovereignty unless we have a defence that is proactive and reactive. We have the longest coastline in the entire world. Our maintenance on our coastline is dwindling not only in terms of the Coast Guard but in terms of our military patrols. Our Aurora fleet has been cut back and our frigate patrols on our coastlines have been cut back. It is no surprise that we have environmental spills, illegal fishing, illegal immigration and illegal drugs coming into the country. We are simply not patrolling our waters.
Anyone who says that the military should not have additional adequate resources is simply fooling themselves. The reality is that the motion before us is very vague in its context and unfortunately is unsupportable at this time, but the premise of the motion brought forward by the member for Saint John, New Brunswick is definitely supportable. The fact is that the government has been derelict in its responsibility toward the military. It is time that we started looking at the military in a much more positive and proactive light.
The men and women of our military are some of the bravest people in the country. They are willing to lay their lives on the line in defence of democracy and freedom. It is no surprise that we are debating this during Veterans' Week. The fact is that we have 116,000 men and women much younger than I am who have laid their lives on the line in over 70 countries around the world so that I can live in peace and freedom.
If it were not for the decision of this House during World War II that sent the troops overseas to save my mom, my dad, my oldest brother, thousands of other Dutch people and their families and millions of others from the tyranny of Naziism, I probably would not be here today. That decision was not made in haste. That decision was made with careful reflection. It is very ironic that I can stand in this House today and am able to say that I represent my constituents in the same House where the decision was made to send overseas the troops that liberated my mother, my father and my oldest brother. For that I will always be grateful to Canada and its young men and women who sacrificed so much so that we could be free.
It is ironic and rather pleasing, actually, to see the defence minister of Canada stand up at a board of trade in a business meeting and say that the military requires more resources, but I have yet to hear him make that declaration in the House so that all of Canada can hear precisely what he is saying.
His statement, by the way, is very reflective of today's motion. It was very vague and there is a lot of wiggle room in this motion. It is simply unacceptable that he would use that type of language to ascertain the current situation of our military, but I am pleased that he will go to his cabinet and fight for more resources, as he says, with all the spending priorities out there. I only wish that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans had the same fortitude to fight for the men and women of our Coast Guard in the same manner.
I do not believe we have to increase taxes to do this either, because by replacing the Sea Kings and the vessels of our country, for example, there would be so many people going back to work making high salaries that the taxes would pay themselves. It is not an expenditure. It is an investment. This is what we need in this country.
I am surprised by those who talk about sovereignty, those who want to send troops to East Timor or Kosovo or around the world. I remind them that peacekeeping means very well that peacekeepers must use lethal force if they have to. They have to be combat trained for peacekeeping. That means they must have the resources in place to be properly trained and be effective when they are out in the field.
On behalf of our party, I salute the men and women of our military. We support our veterans and those who have come back from overseas. We will support our reservists and those who are thinking of the military as a career. We want them to know that they have our support, not only of this party but of all members of the House of Commons.