Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak on behalf of my NDP colleagues this morning in paying tribute to Canada's veterans. All of us will be participating in Remembrance Day services in our ridings in the coming days, but it is important that here in the House of Commons we remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice and also those who were willing to sacrifice themselves but who were fortunate enough to be able to return, sometimes after having already given the best years of their lives.
We especially remember this year those Canadians in our forces who tragically continue to give their lives in defence of Canadian values. We remember those killed in Afghanistan. Like those who went before them, we will remember them, as we do all those who gave their lives in peacekeeping and peacemaking operations.
As the minister said, this November 11 marks 85 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the first world war, a bloodbath which challenged western civilization's self-image as an advanced civilization and set forces in motion that we are still dealing with today.
In that terrible war, over 600,000 Canadians would volunteer and put themselves at risk in what has been called the killing fields of Europe. In 1992 I had the privilege of visiting the Vimy Memorial, the Menin Gate at Ypres, Beaumont Hamel and other World War I memorials and war cemeteries, and I will never forget the names, row upon row, of young men who lost their lives to the carnage of World War I. My grandfather Blaikie fought in that war with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, a regiment raised in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
I also had the privilege of visiting World War II Canadian war cemeteries at Adagem, at Bergen op Zoom and at Dieppe. Today we remember the sacrifice of those who served in that war, the army, the air force, the navy, the merchant navy and all the ways that Canadian men and women dedicated themselves to the collective task of winning the war against fascism.
Today I would like to pay special tribute to my father, Robert Blaikie, who passed away in July. He joined the Canadian navy at HMCS Unicorn in Saskatoon when he was 17 and served in Squadron 803 of the fleet air arm as an air engine mechanic. He was honoured some years ago to have been made a life member of the Transcona Legion Branch No. 7 for his dedication to the legion and to veterans.
The other day I attended a ceremony in the Senate marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Today we remember Canadians who served in that first UN multinational force. Our Korean War vets served with courage and distinction and one hopes that part of the land created by the termination of the Kapyong barracks in Winnipeg, named after their sacrifice, might be set aside as a memorial to them and to all who served their country in time of war and conflict.
As an MP from Winnipeg, I also cannot help but mention, as the minister rightly did, the fate of so many Canadians at Hong Kong and in the Dieppe raid where the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Queen's own Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg served respectively or the role of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on D-Day.
May I also on this occasion say that supporting the surviving spouses of our veterans is an important part of how we honour them and the fact that the government has yet to reinstate the VIP benefits for all widows who were once receiving it is a source of shame to all of us here in the House of Commons. There are a couple of days until November 11. The government has time yet to make that announcement.
Finally, let us dedicate ourselves to properly supporting and equipping the men and women of today's Canadian Forces who are asked to do so much to make the world a safer place for Canadians and for other peoples. Let us also support every policy that offers the possibility of peaceful resolution of disputes, respect for international law and the prospect of a world in which the vision of the prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled, when we shall beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks.