Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with my colleagues in this House on the occasion of this Week to express the appreciation I and all of the Bloc Quebecois have for our veterans.
Before saying a few words about Veterans' Week, I would like to tell the minister that we approve of his intention to create a seventh Book of Remembrance to go with the six others already in the Memorial Chamber here in the Parliament buildings.
Veterans' Week, November 5 to 11, is an opportunity to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served Canada and Quebec in war and in peace. Each year, Quebeckers and Canadians remember the men and women whose heroic efforts have given this country its heritage of democracy and tolerance and have helped our two nations grow. Quebeckers and Canadians are indebted to all veterans for their sacrifices in defending freedom and seeking world peace.
This year we also need to pay tribute to the Quebeckers and Canadians serving their country at this time around the world in various peace keeping missions, and in increasing numbers. We are grateful to them all and to their families.
The theme of Veterans' Week for 2002 is, “Remembering our Past, Preserving our Future”. It focuses on the importance of youth remembering the past for coming generations, and the hope that they will never forget the sacrifices and accomplishments of Quebeckers and Canadians in building our two nations.
Today, I would like to pay tribute to one veteran in particular from Sorel-Tracy, in my riding, who celebrated his 85 birthday on November 4. His name is Léopold Bérard, and he has done so much for the Sorel-Tracy Legion. He is a man who is very involved in his community, and at 85, he is exceptionally dynamic. I wish him the best of health. On behalf of all of the legionnaires from the Sorel-Tracy region, I wish him the best on the occasion of his birthday.
I would like to make a brief aside. Léopold and the whole team at the Sorel-Tracy branch of the Canadian Legion have often told us that the government should look after the needs of our legions. It is all well and good to say that young people must remember, but the legions must have the financial means to educate young people.
The lack of financial support for each of these small legions forces members of the legion to canvass or organize fundraising events to ensure the survival of their small facilities where they can get together. If the government looked after their needs and created a small fund to support these legions, it would be greatly appreciated and very useful in allowing these legionnaires, these people who want to evoke the memory of veterans, to do so without the constant need to ask for handouts to make ends meet.
The purpose of Veterans' Week is to recognize the immense sacrifices made by veterans, including those who have served and continue to serve in the numerous peacekeeping operations around the world.
This week should also serve to remind us of the triumphs and accomplishments of these wonderful people who are working for the wellbeing of our communities. Let us never forget.
In closing, I would like to quote from the minister, who at the end of his speech said:
Mr. Speaker, may the words “Lest we forget”, continue to be our watchwords in these challenging times.N'oublions jamais.