Mr. Speaker, the member quoted one leader of a veterans organization who, regrettably, and which caused me pain, asked for my resignation, as did the member when she echoed the same sentiment.
I want to quote from the press release put out by the Royal Canadian Legion and the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Association with respect to this particular issue and took issue with a statement made in the media. I want to put on the record the statement made by the two oldest and largest organizations for veterans and their families. During the May 7, 2003 meeting, they stated:
At that meeting it was made clear by [the] Veterans Affairs Minister..., and fully understood by all in attendance, that the extension of the VIP for widows beyond the one year period would not be retroactive.
I read that statement because the particular leader, who the member quoted, was at that meeting and, in all modesty, I was the one who raised this particular issue. However, everyone, with great dilemma, decided to proceed and immediately effect a change in the lives of surviving spouses.
However we could not do everything at that time. As I have said in the House repeatedly, because I am a very forthright person, we did not have the fiscal resources.
However, unlike the member, who, until toward the end of her debate, spoke only about her party as though the other opposition members did not matter, I am trying to come up with the word. Is that selfishness on my part?
As I indicated, this is not a partisan issue. I want to read again from the press release of those two major organizations. They state:
We respect the current Minister of Veterans Affairs for his honesty and forthright approach in dealing with veterans issues.