House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pesticide.



11 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is my duty to inform the House that vacancies have occurred in the representation, namely Mr. George Baker, member for the elector district of Gander--Grand Falls by resignation effective March 25, 2002.

Mr. Raymond Lavigne, member for the electoral district of Verdun--Saint-Henri--Saint-Paul--Pointe Saint-Charles, by resignation effective March 25, 2002.

Pursuant to subsection 25(1)( b ) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed on Monday, March 25, 2002, my warrant to the chief electoral officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill these vacancies.

Board of Internal Economy

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. John Reynolds, member for the electoral district of West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast, has been appointed member of the Board of Internal Economy in place of Mr. Randy White, member for the electoral district of Langley--Abbotsford; and Mr. Dale Johnston of the electoral district of Wetaskiwin has also been appointed in place of Mr. Gary Breitkreuz of the electoral district of Yorkton--Melville.

It being 11.10 a.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed in today's order paper.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS


That, in the opinion of this House, the national holiday on November 11th, Remembrance Day, be designated to remember the men and women of the Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy and all civilian groups who served in close support of the armed forces, all of whom sacrificed of themselves in the service of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my seconder from Winnipeg for sponsoring the motion.

Before I start on the particular wording, I did put a notice of motion beforehand to change the actual wording of the motion. I thank the folks at Heritage Canada very much for helping me along in this process.

I seek unanimous consent to change the wording of the motion and have the debate on the following amendment. I move:

That in the opinion of this House, the national holiday of November 11, Remembrance Day, be designated to remember the men and women of the armed forces and the merchant navy and all civilian groups who served in close support of the armed forces, all of whom sacrificed of themselves in the service of Canada.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House has heard the terms of the amendment. Is there unanimous consent?

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Amendment agreed to)

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for its generosity in allowing me to change the wording of the motion. The purpose of the motion is to make Remembrance Day a very inclusive event for civilians and our armed forces personnel from coast to coast to coast.

The other day we celebrated the 85th anniversary of those who lost their lives at Vimy. Just as important as those young men and women who lost their lives going over the top as they say, were those people who were left at home. Those people did know whether their loved ones had perished or were severely wounded either physically or mentally in the serious challenges of World War I, especially at the battle of Vimy. I could comment on many other battles but this particular one was really where Canada saw its growth as a nation. Our maturity as a nation basically started from that particular battle.

As members know, back then we did not have the instant communications that we have today. Part of the motion is to bring those people who kept the home fires alive into the remembrance part of Remembrance Day.

Soldiers cannot do their duty for the service of Canada if they do not have the support of their family, their loved ones and, just as important, the support of their community, their province and their country.

At the end of the debate I will be seeking unanimous consent to make the motion votable in order to allow the House to reflect upon the sacrifices made by our armed forces personnel, merchant mariners and all those people who participated in the war effort from coast to coast to coast. I am not necessarily speaking of the ones who went in ships overseas or flew overseas but those people who stayed at home as well.

I remember the Rangers in Newfoundland and Labrador who supported the war efforts, the coal miners of Cape Breton who supplied the energy needed to make the machinery, the farmers of Saskatchewan and all the prairie provinces who supplied the food and the men and women who worked in the plants, especially the women who worked in the factories. For many women it was the first time they had worked outside the household . That was an integral part of our victories overseas, not just in the first world war but also in Korea and in the second world war.

It is imperative for the House of Commons and the Senate to reflect again on the sacrifices made by so many people in the very serious times we are facing now. We have men and women serving in peacekeeping duties overseas in countries like Afghanistan. They have very concerned families at home. I am sure every member of parliament in the House today has some armed forces personnel from their ridings serving in some capacity, be it in the army, navy, air force, the cadet programs, administrative programs or in a more supportive role such as the legions or various associations across Canada. Millions of Canadians support our men and women overseas and our men and women on the homeland who are working to ensure that we have peace and security at home and abroad.

This particular Remembrance Day motion would not only reflect upon the sacrifices made by those in the past but would also continue to serve as notice that we appreciate the sacrifices made by those young men and women who have left recently. I think of members of Princess Patricia's light infantry and many others who have left Canada to go overseas in very difficult situations to preserve peace and freedom and spread democracy around the world. I can think of no nobler act than this particular motion in terms of remembrance.

I should advise the House of why the motion was changed. On Remembrance Day many schools and provincial buildings are open. In my ignorance I assumed that the federal government could tell provinces through an act of legislation to close their provincial buildings or schools in the act of remembrance.

I realize that the House of Commons or the federal government did not have that jurisdiction. Therefore with Heritage Canada, along with my staff, I was able to reword the motion to get it to a point where through a motion in the House we would encourage the provinces to act accordingly to what the House of Commons and the Senate would hopefully do in the very near future.

That is the purpose of the change. I thank the House and all members who are here today from the various parties for supporting that change, as well as yourself, Mr. Speaker.

On a personal note, I have talked many times in the House about my parents and my oldest brother who were liberated by the Canadian military in the liberation of Holland in 1945. In fact there is a member of parliament across the way who I serve on the defence committee with whose father was one of those liberators. It is always a great time for me because I know my mom is watching now. My dad unfortunately has passed on.

They indicated to me that any time I get a chance to rise in the House I should thank Canadians, their forefathers and foremothers, for the sacrifices they made for our freedom and the freedom of millions of Europeans in that time. We can never thank Canada enough for its sacrifices.

It is rather ironic that many years later I could actually stand in the House of Commons where those difficult decisions were made. Sixty years later we still reflect on whether it was the right decision or the wrong decision. Hindsight is 20:20 but regardless of a person's personal belief on whether the decision to send troops over was right or wrong, I am standing here as an example of the decision that was made to send troops in order that my parents could be freed.

In 1956 the decision was made to move to Canada. My father always said that with a military like that imagine what kind of country Canada was. In that era of 1956 employment opportunities around Holland and Europe were very slim, in many cases non-existent. The decision to emigrate from Holland and move to Canada was a tough decision but one made for the benefit of the family.

I know I do not speak alone. There are over 70 members of parliament here who were born in other countries and have relatives born in other countries. I know the sacrifices they made as well in order to come to Canada and be part of a great nation that we truly are, from coast to coast to coast.

I encourage again all members of the House to support the motion. At the end I will be seeking unanimous consent to make it votable.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park


Sarmite Bulte Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to address the motion put forward by the member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore. In addition to commending him for his patriotism I congratulate the member for his astute and conscientious amendment that has just been made to the wording of the motion.

The motion as it now stands is inclusive of all those who sacrificed for us from those in the uniforms of our armed forces to the civilians who supported them and died alongside them. I thank the hon. member.

Canadians fought and died bravely for this country. It has been almost 200 years since the War of 1812 when one of Canada's legendary heroes emerged. General Brock died on the battlefield and still we remember the gallantry and bravery of this great Canadian.

The following lines were written by an anonymous Canadian upon the completion of a monument in the general's honour. They remind us of Canada's long tradition of gallantry.

His loyal hearted soldiers were ready everyone, Their foes were thrice their number, but duty must be done, They started up the fire-swept hill with loud resounding cheers, While Brock's inspiring voice rang out; “Push on York volunteers!” But soon a fatal bullet pierced through his manly breast, And lovely friends to help him around the hero pressed, “Push on” he said, “Don't mind me” and ere the set of sun, Canadians held the rugged steep, the victory was won.

Canadians have been almost legendary for their bravery in battle ever since. Through World War I, World War II, the Korean war, the Gulf war, in peacekeeping missions the world over and now in Afghanistan, our Canadian armed forces and those civilian groups who support them have done and continue to do our country proud.

The memory of the bravery, valour and heroism of those who have served Canada in the conflicts of the world makes us proud to be Canadians. Each of us walks a little taller when we think of it. Each of us feels the love for our country swell when we picture the courage of our soldiers

However this feeling, this pride, is not the most important reason to remember. The most important reason is thanks. We must never forget what truly has been given up for us. For though they are often spoken of, pageantry and glory are not the real story of war.

War is hell and no one knows that better than those who are sent to fight. It is death, suffering and pain, and must only be entered into as it is today in the hope of peace and in the name of justice. Bravery, honour and selflessness are found in times of war and these virtues seem to have followed Canadian soldiers wherever they have gone. The stories that lie deepest in the hearts of those who have witnessed war are not often the stories filled with glory, they are stories of hurt, pain and loss.

We must never forget this. We must never forget the enormity of the sacrifices that have been made over the course of our military history by those who have served Canada.

November 11 is a day when we express our words of gratitude to those among us who are living reminders of that sacrifice, our veterans. It is the day when we send our prayers of thanks to the fallen and those who have since passed on, a day in which we take a moment to consider the courageous youth this nation has lost and to recommit ourselves to always and everywhere make peace our goal and war our last resort.

That is why since 1919 Remembrance Day has been observed in Canada. Initially it was known as Armistice Day and was created to celebrate the armistice that ended the first world war on Monday, November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m., the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week on which November 11 fell until 1931 when a member of parliament, Allan Neill, introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed day, November 11.

During the bill's introduction it was decided that the word remembrance would be used instead of armistice. The bill passed and Remembrance Day as we know it was conducted on November 11, 1931. Currently the Holidays Act, Chapter H-7 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, confirms and establishes Remembrance Day thus:

November 11, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.

In addition to its inclusion in the Holidays Act, the status of Remembrance Day as a statutory holiday is preserved under such central and vital federal legislation as the Canada Labour Code and the Interpretation Act as well as other important legislation such as the Bills of Exchange Act and the Canada Elections Act.

Remembrance Day is at present a holiday for federal public servants pursuant to the public service terms and conditions of employment made under the Financial Administration Act. Federally regulated institutions such as banks also observe Remembrance Day as a legal holiday. For the federal government and institutions falling within federal competence Remembrance Day is a national holiday.

Many people ask why stores are still open and children still in school on November 11 in so many parts of Canada. The answer can be found in the Constitution Act of 1867 wherein legislation relating to legal non-working holidays is found to be generally within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. That means that the definition of holiday as it concerns employees who are not within the jurisdiction of the federal government is determined by the provinces by their labour codes and legislation which deals with holidays, retail businesses and education.

In addition it also depends on whether a particular holiday is included in the applicable collective agreement between employers and employees. Holidays are declared and regulated by the federal, provincial and territorial legislatures acting within their own sphere of authority and competence. Consequently it appears that most of the difficulties relating to the non-observance of Remembrance Day are at the provincial and territorial levels.

Nevertheless I commend my colleague for the love he shows for this country in the tabling of the motion. I support his efforts to broaden the official scope of Remembrance Day and I applaud his endeavours to further its observance throughout Canada.

Canada's youth of years gone by offered to give up their lives in defence of liberty and to preserve the peace and they still do today. From those who have been killed and wounded, from those who have sacrificed and served, we have been given this great country and the freedom to enjoy it.

The thanks we owe cannot be measured. Every year on Remembrance Day I am especially proud to be a Canadian.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Canadian Alliance I congratulate the member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore for bringing up once again Remembrance Day.

All of us are deeply thankful and grateful because it gives us an opportunity to honour and remember the men and women who fought and sometimes gave their lives and their families' lives so that we could enjoy the peace and security that we have today and are so lucky to share.

Remembrance Day has a number of elements to it. Yes, it is a time for honour and it is a time to hold up those who gave up their lives and those today who go out across our dangerous world for peace. However, it is also a time for remembrance. It is a time to teach the young about the sacrifices of the past.

The hon. member's intention of having a national holiday so we can have more time to remember our men and women in uniform and for those who have gone is honourable. However he is forgetting something that veterans groups brought up to us recently. They said they needed an opportunity to teach the young about this important day and about the history that is behind it.

It is for that reason that they want opportunities to go into schools to teach about the past, about their experiences and to let us not forget. That is what they want to do. They want the young to not forget the lessons of the past so that they may not be repeated in the future.

As a party, the then Reform Party now Alliance since 1993, we have fought hard for our men and women in uniform. Unfortunately, the government took it upon itself, since 1993, through an utter disregard, through financial and political interventions, to hamstring the military and to compromise it in a time when our world is becoming more dangerous. Today we have more complicated weapons, more threats, both direct and indirect to our country and to the world, than we have ever seen in the last 100 years. Yet there has been a systematic erosion of the military in our country.

The removal of funds, the reduction in weaponry, the rust out and the reduction in manpower has severely compromised the ability of our men and women to do what Canada has asked them to do, both at home and internationally. There have been many comments about how that has eroded our military. The U.S. ambassador to Canada stated in Whistler, B.C. on July 26, 2001:

At this point, I must note that many of our friends in Canada have expressed a concern in this area, one that many on the U.S. side of the border share. That concern is over resources for Canadian forces. While these resources were cut drastically because of the end of the Cold War, and the need to put the Federal budget back in balance, it has now reached the point where without significant increases, the Canadian forces could lose much of their effectiveness.

That is what the U.S. ambassador said. That is what we found in the U.S. and that, sadly, is what we found among many of our men and women in uniform. They want our support. They have been given dangerous tasks and yet we have not supported them.

Let the motion on Remembrance Day be an opportunity for Canadians across the country, and particularly for the House, to back our men and women in uniform and also the civilian employees who work so hard to support them. For example, Union of Defence Employees are a terribly hardworking group of civilians who the military desperately needs to support in the superb work they do at home and abroad.

The government has cut their effectiveness by cutting them to the bone. In spite of that, they continue to work hard in support of our men and women in uniform. That relation of the civilian aspect of our military simply cannot continue. It is an unrecognized disregard for our men and women in uniform and also compromises their effectiveness.

Our party has put forth a number of solutions over the years to address these issues and I will address a few of them: a lack of manpower, a rust out in equipment, a lack of foresight, and not addressing family issues. All these seek to erode our men and women in uniform.

Here are some possible solutions. First, our defence department needs a white paper that works in conjunction with foreign policy. We need a combined foreign policy defence white paper. This would enable our defence forces to know what our foreign policy was. We would then be able to fund our defence department to do what our foreign policy dictated. We cannot have disconnected foreign and defence policies, yet that is what we have had for a long time.

Second, we must increase our manpower to 75,000. We have seen our men and women in uniform rapidly cycling through the tasks they have been given. As a result they are burnt out, particularly our army people. Our army personnel are burnt out because they are cycling from the Middle East, Kosovo and Bosnia. They are tired and exhausted. We need up to 75,000 more people on the sharp edge of our military.

Third, we need critical investment in the rust out factor I have mentioned. We have a critical need for weaponry and equipment in a vast array of areas, particularly in the army but also in the air force. The navy is not doing too badly.

Fourth, those who come back sick must be taken care of. For reasons that are unfathomable to us, soldiers in uniform who get sick are too often treated with utter disregard. That is not fair. We must give our men and women in uniform greater regard than they give us, and they give us a tremendous amount. They must be taken care of when they come back sick.

Fifth, we must consider the families of soldiers and issues of life. The SCONDVA published an excellent report on issues concerning military families, yet by and large it was disregarded. The families placed much hope on the report. They listened and gave input. The report came out. It was excellent. It was supported by parties across the House, yet it has not been implemented. Why has the report not been implemented?

If the government truly wants to do something constructive and support our military it will remember those who have gone before us and those who are here today. It will live up to the obligation Canada has toward the people who fight for us and for peace.

There are many ways to do this. The Conference of Defence Associations published an excellent report which proffered many solutions to make our military effective. However we cannot condone the recent comments of government cabinet ministers who said aid was more important than defence. They suggested that diminishing our defence complement and defence investment would somehow make our country safer.

It would not. The world is more dangerous today than it has been in the last 100 years. China has a superheated military complex. It has been investing in long range weaponry and aircraft carriers while pretending to be weak. Even smaller countries like Thailand and Singapore have large militaries. The expansion of long range weaponry by China and other countries makes Canada a less safe place.

Furthermore, more than 50 conflicts are taking place. The nature of the world has changed. The conflicts are no longer between nations. Most are internecine conflicts within nations. Our military needs the tools to be nimble. It needs the ability to project military people into the theatre with our allies. Our military personnel need the equipment to do their jobs. Their families sit here worried sick about them. They are worried they will not come back alive because their husbands and wives do not necessarily have the equipment they often need.

We in our party plead with the government and the minister of defence to finally give our military personnel the respect they require and the tools to do the job. It should make the necessary investment so they will be safe in some of the most dangerous theatres in the world.

On behalf of the Canadian Alliance I thank the men and women who are in Afghanistan today. I thank the peacemakers and peacekeepers who work across this dangerous world of ours in the pursuit of peace and security for those who are most impoverished. I thank the Union of National Defence Employees and the civilian population. Above all, I thank the families for the sacrifices they make on behalf of Canada.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore for the motion before us today. I feel it is an important motion. The Bloc Quebecois has studied each of the concepts included in the motion, as we always do. All of the concepts in the motion are to the Bloc's liking.

First of all, it recognizes the contribution of all those who have come before us to defend the values we continue to hold dear today. There may be many objections about the cost of this or the fact that it is not under the right jurisdiction, but I believe that it has been worded so that it can satisfy everyone. It is also an expression of thanks.

If the House of Commons could adopt this motion, it would serve as an expression of thankfulness for all those efforts. Those were times of great tension, to which we can relate. Whether the war of 1914-18, the war of 1939-45 or the Korean war, these were times when dictators were emerging, mainly in Europe but in Korea as well. The free and democratic nations had to speak out and say “That is enough. Our own value systems are at risk”.

Take my parents, for example. I have often heard them talk about the period from 1939 to 1945. My father was a member of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal; he did his part for the war effort. He witnessed the rise of the Nazi dictatorship and racist Nazi nationalism. He felt that it was important to stand up to it. There was debate at the time, and once again, it became apparent that there were two societies. Some people agreed to go and defend the so-called motherland, Great Britain—I am referring to English Canada—but Quebec was not as keen for this cause. We know that Quebec was not in favour of conscription.

These were tense times for people in the first blush of youth, between the ages of 20 and 25, who witnessed the rise of the regime and were told that they should go overseas to defend Europe. Even though Quebec voted against conscription at the time, Quebecers did nevertheless enlist to defend freedom in Europe.

It is very important to recognize that those were stressful times back then. My father, a member of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, was about to marry my mother. They had to wait because he was sent overseas. It is not hard to imagine that this was difficult, just like it is difficult today, knowing that soldiers may be sent to Afghanistan to risk their lives fighting for the same values.

The proposal as such includes the whole notion that the House of Commons should recognize this effort and, more importantly, that it should remember it. This motion includes both men and women. Recently, we had a motion before the House to recognize the work of women. It should be remembered that, at the time, men went to Europe or Korea to defend fundamental values. These men were accompanied by women, including nurses. It was very important to have nurses on the line of fire. Someone had to take care of the injured. In my view, there was never a resolution to recognize the work of these women.

The motion before us today recognizes this work at last. It also recognizes the work of civilians. Even though my mother was not a nurse, she worked very hard for the military industry during the war. For example, the Singer company, which is located in my riding, was in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide the necessary supplies to support the theatre of operations in Europe, from 1939 to 1945.

This motion also recognizes the work of civilians, and this is important. It was not only women who worked for the military industry to support the front. Farmers, also produced a lot to sent food items to Europe, specifically to support the war effort. Again, this is appropriately mentioned in the motion.

So far, little has been said about the merchant navy, but I want to talk about it. The federal government was slow to recognize the effort of the Canadian merchant navy. It took the government a long time to do so. Yet, these people were taking very serious risks. The Germans had very sophisticated submarines and they were well aware that if they could intercept convoys and stop the shipping of necessary supplies to Europe, this could be a turning point in the war.

Many merchant mariners lost their lives. They too took part in the war effort. This is recognized in my colleague's motion.

One thing which is very important to the Bloc Quebecois is Quebec's jurisdiction. This motion does not force Quebec to declare November 11 a holiday. In most federal institutions, it is of course observed. It is also observed in many institutions in Quebec.

The motion, however, leaves it up to the provinces and the municipalities, which come under provincial jurisdiction, to decide whether or not to observe the day. I think it would be desirable for everyone to observe it. But the fact that my colleague has given thought to respect for jurisdictions is not insignificant and I wish to congratulate him on the work he has done.

I would be disappointed if, at the end of this debate, my colleague did not seek unanimous consent. I noted that this motion was unfortunately not votable. I think that, for all the reasons I have just given, it would be interesting for the House of Commons to hold a debate and confirm that this recognition and this remembrance are important.

I urge my colleague to put forward a motion later—and I hope that everyone will be in favour—seeking the unanimous consent of the House to make this motion votable.

For all these reasons, I can tell the hon. member that the Bloc Quebecois will unanimously support his request for a motion. We would also be in favour of the motion being made votable, because I think it is important for society to recognize the efforts of those who lost their lives, or whose lives were shattered, who lost relatives and friends. It is vital that this be recognized today. I hope that everyone will support the member's motion.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place today to support the motion of my hon. friend from Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore to enhance our day of remembrance for the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for Canada.

This is not the first time I have tried to deal with the matter in this place. Many years ago a constituent of mine named Brian Warshick repeatedly asked me to make Remembrance Day a holiday in Canada. It had always upset his father, a decorated vet, to watch the news on November 11 and see Torontonians shopping on the hallowed day. I wanted to make the change but I came across the same jurisdictional obstacles my friend from Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore encountered. I want Brian and his father to know that today in the House of Commons we are doing what we can.

Before looking into the legalities of holiday law in Canada I had always thought Remembrance Day was a real holiday, meaning people stopped and did other things apart from commerce, schools and whatever we busy ourselves with. In Nova Scotia schools, malls, courts and offices are closed on November 11. No one would dream of trying to hold a public event in Halifax on November 11 that was not related to Remembrance Day. I have always supported this.

There is nothing special about the devotion of the people of Dartmouth to our military. We honour the military tradition. We remember perhaps a little more because of the Halifax explosion, the hundreds of convoys which have left from our harbour and the hundreds of sons who never came back. However men and women from across the country have never come back. All parts of Canada have supported our forces and our war efforts. The memory of those who fell is honoured in every small and large jurisdiction across the country. We should do anything we can in the House to encourage jurisdictions and provinces to respect the memories of fathers, sons, brothers, sisters and daughters who served Canada and did not return.

Mr. Warshick has nothing against the folks he sees on the news who shop in malls in Toronto. He merely asks that they join him for once in taking this day to reflect on the courage and values we stand for and on the sacrifice his father and the fathers and grandfathers of many here in this room have made on behalf of our country.

Once again I thank the drafter of the motion. I ask that we all support it being made votable in the House of Commons.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pleasure to support my colleague from Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore in this very important initiative. We need to take every opportunity to renew the pride of Canadians in some of our institutions, in our citizenship and in our parliamentary processes. At the very core of this pride, we need to point to the tremendous contributions made by those men and women in past world conflicts in defending the principles of democracy and freedom that we now enjoy.

Increasingly Canadians are taking for granted the privileges we have of living in a democratic country, privileges for which there was a very high price. Some of those men and women paid the ultimate price of losing their lives overseas, many sustained permanent injury, both emotional and physical, and families lost members in conflict defending the principles of democratic freedom and liberty.

However today as we pull back from honouring, supporting and recognizing these contributions, we live in an age where we see declining voter participation in every election. What is most upsetting to see is that first time voter turnout has been reduced significantly in almost every election in recent years. Canadians have the sacred privilege of participating in the electoral process and electing individuals to represent their views in this hallowed place, the House of Commons. We have seen a decline in that level of participation.

This type of initiative would help strengthen the recognition across Canada of the contributions of these brave men and women, our veterans, and perhaps would help remind Canadians why it is important not just to be patriotic on November 11 but to vigilant every day of the year, and on election days for us to participate as informed and interested citizenry. This would help. I would argue further that we need to see provincially a greater focus across Canada on educating young Canadians on our history and on the importance of citizenry involvement and participation. This certainly would help.

In my view it is unacceptable that on Remembrance Day we have a hodgepodge of policies on a day when Canadians ought to be united on one thing, and that is the sacrifices made by our fore-parents in protecting our freedoms and that the benefits which have grown from those sacrifices are felt by every Canadian in every province of Canada. As such we need to see an approach that recognizes this sacrifice from coast to coast.

I would also argue that we need to do more on an ongoing basis to make Canadians aware of our history. In so many ways if Canadians are not more aware of our shared history, we have less to bind us together in moving forward. One thing which we need to take into account, particularly at a time now when Canadian men and women are again involved in conflict on foreign lands and in recognizing the contributions made by Canadian peacekeepers over the last 30 years particularly, is the respect earned by our peacekeepers around the world.

One thing we do very well as a country is help provide a greater level of stability in security and safety for people in other countries around the world in which there are not the great levels of freedom and liberty that we take for granted in Canada.

I would argue that if Canadians were more aware of how well our peacekeepers are regarded around the world, it would become a rallying cry from a unity perspective because clearly one of the casualties of a divided Canada would be our ability to participate as fully as we do now with our peacekeepers in distant lands.

Therefore it is not just Canadians who have a vested interest in a strong united Canada but it is people who live around the world. Whether it is in Cyprus, Afghanistan or the mid-east in general or in the former Yugoslavia, people in those distant lands depend as much as we do on a strong and united Canada to continue its vigilance and ensure that in this 21st century as we move forward that we will see a greater level of peace and harmony than we perhaps saw in the 20th century.

We have always punched above our weight as a country. Canadian participation in military efforts on behalf of freedom and liberty has always been disproportionate to our actual military resources and indeed our population.

I would hope that one result of strengthening our commitment to Remembrance Day would be to remind every Canadian why military funding is so important. I know this ought not to be a partisan issue, but I would be remiss not to mention the fact that under this government we have seen a dramatic reduction in the commitment to our Canadian military, both in terms of equipment and also in quality of life issues in terms of pay and housing.

Recognizing and strengthening our commitment to Remembrance Day could also have the benefit of strengthening the commitment of individual Canadians to hold the feet of the government to the fire by demanding that this government and future governments do more from a resource perspective to ensure that our men and women who so valiantly represent the values that we treasure as Canadians will have the resources required to do the job and that the military will not be asked constantly to do more with less. This increased level of pressure on the current government and future federal governments to do more to assist our military from a resources perspective would ensure that these proud Canadians could continue to represent Canadian values proudly and protect the rights and freedoms around the world which we take for granted here at home.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the individuals who spoke today in favour of the motion. I know I have great support from all the people who spoke.

I would be remiss if I did not include for the official record a couple of individuals who are sitting in the House today, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre and my colleague from the Alliance Party from Surrey North whose fathers were also part of the liberation of Holland. The father of my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, Lieutenant Jack Martin, was part of the liberation of Holland and the father of my colleague from Surrey North, Corporal Ernie Cadman, was in Apeldoorn during the liberation and ended up marrying a Dutch girl. As I always say, if people are not Dutch, they are not much, so he is half much.

I rise to ask the House to make this motion votable. I understand the role of the committee when it makes a particular bill or motion non-votable. It goes before six of my colleagues in committee and they decide yes or no. In this case they said no but I remind the House that what the committee said no to was the original wording of the motion. That has now been tossed out.

We now have a new reworded motion with the generous help of the heritage committee, the heritage department and the Government of Canada. They helped me rewrite this motion to make it more palatable, more accessible to the House of Commons and hopefully votable. We are not debating the original motion. We are debating the one the reworded motion which the House unanimously agreed to debate. In fact, the department of the Minister of Canadian Heritage was gracious enough to help me rewrite this motion.

Again, I thank all members who spoke on behalf of our brave men and women in our military, past and present, our civilian workers attached to the military, past and present, and all Canadians across the country who support our military men and women in their efforts to spread democracy around the world, as well as peace and freedom. At this time I seek unanimous consent of the House to make this motion a votable item.

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to make the motion votable?

Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Remembrance Day
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members