This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-19.

Topics

Privilege

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River on November 4, 2003 concerning the conduct of Mr. George Radwanski before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for having raised an issue which is of importance to all members and to the institution of the House of Commons. I would also like to thank the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for their interventions.

On November 5, 2003, the hon. government House leader rose in the House to contribute to the discussion. Acknowledging the seriousness of this matter and the importance of the ruling of the Chair in this case, the hon. House leader called on the Speaker to render a ruling which would also provide two statements. To use his own words, the House leader looked to the ruling, first:

...to make it clear to every citizen who may come before a committee of the House the responsibilities that he or she has...and the consequences that may follow from a failure... to uphold those responsibilities...

And secondly:

...to provide the House with an outline of its options should [the Chair] find a prima facie case of contempt...

The hon. government House leader went on to discuss various issues surrounding the possible summoning of a private citizen to the Bar of the House. I wish to thank the hon. government House leader for his intervention.

Before rendering my decision, I want to address the two requests he has made to the Chair.

First, let me deal with the suggestion that my ruling should lay out the options before the House in this matter. As hon. members know, the role of the Speaker in matters of privilege is well defined in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 122, which states:

The function of the Speaker is limited to deciding whether the matter is of such a character as to entitle the Member who has raised the question to move a motion which will have priority over Orders of the Day; that is, in the Speaker's opinion, there is a prima facie question of privilege. If there is, the House must take the matter into immediate consideration.

The Speaker's ruling does not extend to deciding whether a breach of privilege has in fact been committed--a question which can be decided by the House itself.

It is clear to me that the Speaker's role in matters of privilege and contempt is well established in our practice. In my view, it is not the role of the Speaker to suggest how the House may wish to deal with a question of privilege or a case of contempt, always assuming that the House has decided that it is faced with such an offence. The ruling will therefore deal only on whether or not the Chair has found a prima facie case of contempt.

Secondly, it has been suggested that the ruling lay down guidelines for individuals appearing before committees of this House. However tempting the invitation, the Speaker cannot presume to articulate the expectations that committees have of the witnesses who come before them. Suffice it to say that I believe all hon. members will agree with me when I say simply that committees of the House and, by extension, the House of Commons itself, must be able to depend on the testimony they receive, whether from public officials or private citizens. This testimony must be truthful and complete. When this proves not to be the case, a grave situation results, a situation that cannot be treated lightly.

In the situation before us, I have carefully read the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates tabled in the House. The committee's report sets out the testimony of Mr. George Radwanski, the former privacy commissioner, that it found misleading and concludes that, in its view, the former privacy commissioner should be found in contempt of the House. The report reviews the conflicts in the testimony and, it seems to me, draws its conclusions in a manner that seems reasonable in the circumstances.

Accordingly, I conclude that the matters set out in the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates are sufficient to support a prima facie finding of a breach of the privileges of this House. I therefore invite the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River to move his motion.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have some additional information on this matter that just arrived in my office this morning. I wish to share it with the House.

I have a letter addressed to myself from Mr. George Radwanski in which he says the following:

I am writing to apologize to you and your Committee, and through you to Parliament as a whole, for mistakes that were made during my tenure as Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

It was never my wish to show any disrespect whatsoever for Parliament or any of the members. I have, on the contrary, the greatest respect for Parliament--not only for the institution, but for the individuals who comprise it. I have been a close observer of politics and government my whole adult life, and I know well the importance and the challenges of what Parliamentarians do.

I apologize sincerely and without reservation for anything and everything that may have given you and your colleagues cause to believe that I misled your Committee or showed insufficient respect.

I also want to take this opportunity to apologize, through you, to Parliament and to all Canadians for any errors in judgment with regard to administrative and financial matters. I deeply regret that these matters disappointed and offended so many people, including Members of Parliament, on whose behalf I was seeking to work to the very best of my abilities.

Clearly, in hindsight, there are things I wish I had done differently during my tenure as Privacy Commissioner. These past months have been a period of intense reflection, during which I have assessed the events of the past three years and sought the advice of others in order to fully learn from mistakes that were made and be able to do better in the future.

You may also be assured that I have already paid very dearly over these past four months for any and all errors in judgment I made in the exercise of my duties. There is no aspect of my life that hasn't suffered enormous, perhaps irreparable, blows.

It is very much my wish to be able to put these matters behind me--with some very painful lessons learned--to restore some semblance of normalcy in my life, and to continue trying as a private citizen to make a positive contribution in whatever ways may remain open to me.

Yours sincerely,

George Radwanski.

I wish to table this letter, Mr. Speaker.

Privilege

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the letter?

Privilege

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Privilege

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will speak to the motion momentarily, but I first want to acknowledge the efforts of all our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, as well as those on the subcommittee of that committee dealing with this issue, in particular our colleague, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, who co-chaired the subcommittee.

I also want to acknowledge the very valuable assistance of the counsel to the House of Commons, Mr. Walsh; the Clerk of the House; the research staff for the subcommittee and the committee; and the witnesses who appeared at the committee. I also want to acknowledge the valuable assistance among members on both sides of the House and the member for Mississauga South.

I am surprised but pleased to take note of the letter that was read by our colleague and which has now been tabled.

The receipt of the letter from George Radwanski to the House, through the chair of the standing committee, in my view, will allow or can allow the House to conclude this matter in a way that respects and upholds the privileges of the House and the traditions of the House.

I, on behalf of all members of the House, was prepared today to move a motion, which procedurally would happen now, that would have summoned Mr. Radwanski to the House to conclude this procedure. I mention this so that the record will show that this is what should happen or would happen. The fact that we have not done this in some 90 years may well be enough reason for putting it on record so that we are all aware of how it may be done in the future in the unfortunate circumstance where it might have to happen.

Mr. Radwanski's letter, in my view, and hopefully in our view, allows us to put on record what we might well have had to do using the Bar of the House right here. We wish to do the right thing and we wish to do the right thing for Canadians in their House.

Mr. Radwanski's communication this morning I hope will be taken as good judgment on his part and that the matters raised by the committee had foundation.

Therefore I will not move the motion that I had drafted and submitted to the Speaker. I ask colleagues in the House now to agree that this matter of privilege and the alleged contempt be concluded now and that we return to House business.

Privilege

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat distressed about this. I believe that if any individual were to commit perjury in one of the courts in our country, it is not very likely that the judge would say that since they were sorry, it was okay, and they should just carry on because it really did not matter. That would not happen.

Perjury in court is a serious matter. This particular matter is very serious if we want to uphold the supremacy of Parliament as the highest court in the land. For us to simply pat Mr. Radwanski on the back and say that it is okay, is insufficient

It is obvious that he now sees that the committee was determined to ensure that justice was done. This is, on his part, nothing more than a defence reaction on how to get out of this, probably on the advice of his lawyers.

We err as a House of Commons if we give the message to anybody who comes in front of any of our committees that the person can say whatever he or she wants, whether it is truthful or not, and if that happens, there will be no sanctions or consequences. It is a very serious error.

Privilege

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to the same point of order that was raised by the member for Winnipeg South, who read a letter from Mr. George Radwanski.

I believe that it is a poor substitute for the actions that we as a standing committee chose to take, which was to point out our displeasure with Mr. Radwanski from the very start of this painful exercise.

The member for Elk Island made a good point. We should be concerned with what kind of precedent we are setting. If in fact we are the highest court in the land, we have a person who has made misrepresentations, possibly stolen public funds, lied to a standing committee, falsified documents and records, and ultimately will walk away with nothing more than a stern talking to.

It is not unusual for people, once they are found guilty, to do a few mea culpas and try to minimize the impact. I do not believe that Canadians would be satisfied that in one of the most obvious cases in recent history of abusing the system as a civil servant and violating the public trust, that it is satisfactory to simply accept a letter of apology from this person.

We have watched the standing committee move to a fairly firm consensus that we should be calling Mr. Radwanski to the Bar. The House of Commons should find him in contempt with consequences and sanctions up to and including time in prison. That was the starting point in our standing committee. We have seen that position watered down to the point now where we are going to accept a letter of apology from Mr. Radwanski.

Surely, we are not satisfied with this. We believe that this sets a terrible precedent for other courts and other situations. We have other cases where senior civil servants have been caught in the maladministration of funds that are yet to be dealt with by Parliament. I am talking about the Groupaction sponsorship scandals and the scandal around the Virginia Fontaine Treatment Centre with Health Canada in the Province of Manitoba.

We will have senior civil servants in the same situation and this sets a precedent where they, too, will simply write letters of apology. That is not satisfactory. I believe we should at the very least today find Mr. Radwanski to be in contempt of Parliament and nothing less will be satisfactory.

Privilege

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will not repeat the history of how we got here; however, in discussions with all parties, it was understood and agreed that it was necessary for us to find an expeditious resolution to this matter.

It is a fact that in the subcommittee report, as approved by the main committee, the unanimous position was that the committee would seek only an admonishment of Mr. Radwanski for the contempt should the Speaker find a prima facie case of privilege.

Mr. Speaker, you have found that prima facie case of privilege. Our position would have been to summon Mr. Radwanski to the Bar. He would have then given the letter, apologized to the House and we would have concluded that he was in contempt of this place.

I think it is the will of this place to accept Mr. Radwanski's letter of apology as his statement as if it were from the Bar. Therefore, at the appropriate time, I would be prepared to move that this House find Mr. George Radwanski in contempt of Parliament.

Privilege

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

With respect, there has already been a finding in the committee and it reported a contempt. Based on the evidence the committee heard, I have made a finding that there is a prima facie case of contempt.

The hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River, who brought the matter to the attention of the House and got this ruling from the Chair, has indicated he does not wish to proceed with his motion. I would have thought that this might conclude the matter.

The hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast on a point of order.

Privilege

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the House leaders are trying to work something out on this issue right now. May I suggest that, with unanimous consent, we go to routine proceedings and come back to this issue when those talks are finished?

Privilege

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed.?

Privilege

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Indian Specific Claims CommissionRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2002-03 annual report of the Indian Specific Claims Commission.

Yukon Comprehensive Land Claims AgreementRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour of tabling copies of the 2000-01 annual report on the implementation of the Yukon Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement.

BroadcastingRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Niagara Centre Ontario

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage from the second session of the 37th Parliament entitled “Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting”.

Patent ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Liberalfor the Prime Minister

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-56, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Westbank First Nation Self-Government ActRoutine Proceedings

November 6th, 2003 / 10:20 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-57, an act to give effect to the Westbank First Nation Self-Government Agreement.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, lest we forget.

November 5 to 11 is Veterans Week. It is a wonderful opportunity for a nation to salute the courage of its veterans and their fallen comrades for the benefit of generations to come.

It is a time for all of us to reaffirm our faith in the cherished values that veterans so dearly fought for: freedom, truth, knowledge, justice and peace.

It is also a time to renew our pledge as a nation to continue to work for the well-being of our veterans and their families, to whom we owe our unending gratitude. This remains the pledge in our hearts and minds. It is also the pledge of Veterans Affairs Canada and the government.

Indeed, Veterans Week is a special time for Canada to honour our heroes of war and peace for they served their nation so nobly in war and so ably in peace for over a century.

I was pleased to take part in the commemorative activities at St. Anne's Veterans Hospital in Quebec on Monday, and in the other place yesterday morning with you, Mr. Speaker, followed in the afternoon by the presentation of the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation to this year's recipients. I look forward to participating this coming Monday in some of the Veterans Week activities in my hometown of Winnipeg.

Many Canadians will gather at their local cenotaphs or at our National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day.

Indeed, this year and next are remarkable years for commemoration. This year, November 11 marks the 85th year of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

For a nation of barely eight million citizens at the time, Canada's war effort certainly was remarkable. Over 600,000 would fight it out on the killing fields of Europe. Nearly one in ten did not return.

A few decades later, the evil forces of Nazism spread their misery again across the same continent. A new generation was called on to fight. Over one million Canadian men and women joined other allied nations in a war that had to be fought and won.

In the war in Hong Kong, Canadians put up a valiant struggle against an overwhelming enemy. At Dieppe, they bore the brunt of a daring raid against the enemy-controlled coast of France.

Our gallant seamen in the merchant and regular navies sailed the oceans of the world delivering the needed supplies and providing dangerous convoy escort.

Our airmen flew in every sky. Our ground forces fought for 20 months in Italy and were on the front lines when the Allies returned on D-Day. From Normandy to the Netherlands our forces fought bravely. When peace finally came, over 45,000 had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Five years later, the world was on the brink of disaster once again with the onset of the Korean War. Canada's commitment to the principles of the United Nations was put to the test. Our Korean War veterans met that test with courage, distinction and sacrifice, and so did our country.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, which is the theme of this year's Veterans Week.

I had the honour of accompanying a delegation of Korean War veterans to the places where they fought so valiantly. We visited the cemeteries and memorials in honour of their fallen comrades. Their joint efforts contributed to the avoidance of another global war in the second half of the 20th century.

Let us also remember those who have risked and continue to risk life and limb in peacekeeping or with emergency forces where international service has been required by a troubled world.

Wherever the hungry and the dispossessed find themselves at the mercy of war and civil strife, chances are we will find Canadian servicemen and women offering their help and hope.

I wish all colleagues and all Canadians an excellent Veterans' Week, which ends at the end of our Remembrance Day celebrations on November 11.

Once more, let us pledge that we will never forget. We are a better nation for what our veterans and their fallen comrades did in the service of our country. We are a better nation for what we do for their well-being and for what we do in their memory.

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his speech this morning.

As a rule I am a more than cheerful type of individual, but as I approach November 11 this year, I approach it with a great deal of sadness, sadness because of events that have happened during the past year, sadness that affects people from coast to coast, and of course, I am sad because of the lack of compassion that has been shown in recent weeks.

I found a clear definition for compassion in the dictionary: “pity inclining one to help or be merciful”. I know full well that this government has ignored some 23,000 widows. In turn, that ignores their families. In turn, that ignores their children. I know that all the members opposite have received letters on this, although maybe not as many as I have.

I am going to be saddened when I stand before a crowd in Kipling, Saskatchewan, because I know some widows there who are living in a pitiful condition because this government has not enough compassion to honour these people, these wives who cared for those brave men when they came home. Now, when they are alone, we cannot recognize them.

Another sadness comes over me when I think about the national institutes that refused the Royal Canadian Legion the right to put poppies in their establishments in this past week. That is a disgrace in Canada. I hope that this government reprimands those businesses and reprimands them well. I hope it does not allow this insult to stand in regard to those people who have died and those who are still living. They ordered them to take out the poppies; people could not even leave the baskets there and have money dropped in. That is a disgrace.

I am very pleased that the government has seen fit to lower all flags on all federal government buildings to half-mast on November 11. After that happened, I wrote to every province in Canada suggesting that they should do the same thing for their provincial buildings. Guess what? I received responses from about half of them. I am not very proud of that at all.

As we approach November 11, there are some things I can say that I am happy about. I am happy that the schools across this country are showing more attention to this day than they have in the past. We have outlived the days of television showing that Billy Bishop was not a good pilot and that the Royal Canadian Air Force dropped their bombs in the ocean and ran home. We watched that on Canadian television. We watched it bring our veterans down to the lowest point. I hope we are above that.

I am particularly glad to see that this week has been named Korean War Week by the minister. I am happy about that, because it took the government and this country years to call it a war. They simply called it a police action.

There is another point that saddens me on every morning that I drive in here. Fifty years ago, Canada was promised a war museum. The soldiers were promised a war museum. The military was promised a war museum; we had one million people in uniform and they were promised a war museum. Fifty years have passed after about five different promises. What saddens me today is this: we are the last of all the allied countries to build a national war museum. That is a disgrace.

In closing, I would like to encourage each member, each of the schools listening in and each of the branches of the Royal Canadian Legion to take in the show entitled Two Minutes of Silence--A Pittance of Time . It is a beautiful production and I encourage everyone to see at it.

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and very honoured to speak about veterans on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois.

Vimy, Dieppe and Juno Beach are very symbolic and very significant places in terms of historic wartime events and of the ultimate sacrifices made by these men—and women, for there were women as well in the theatres of operations. They all symbolize the sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for freedom, democracy and peace in the western world.

It is very important for us to remember them every year. For the Commonwealth countries, the commemoration takes place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to honour those who died.

We must also remember the veterans. My father was one. He took part in the liberation of Holland. One must go to Europe to appreciate the gratitude people feel for the Quebeckers and Canadians who risked their lives, many of whom died for the freedom of these countries, because it had to be done. If Nazism or the forces of evil had won those wars, the effects would certainly have been felt here, too. Recovery would probably have been very difficult.

But we did go overseas. I think that is important, and it was a common expression at the time. My mother used to say, “Your father went overseas”. I do not want to bring up the whole issue of conscription, but my father was not one of those who wanted to go overseas. Nevertheless, out of duty, he decided to go. That is important.

When we visit the cemeteries in Holland we see the names on the graves and the white crosses. There are many graves that have no names, just plain white crosses. There were mass burials at some of these places. Many of our family members, our uncles, our grandfathers, fought there and were buried there. Lest we forget.

And then there are those who survived. I am a member of the Iberville branch of the Canadian Legion. It is quite something to see the reactions of those who fought overseas. They have been morally and psychologically affected by what they saw over there. They have not only physical scars, but psychological scars, and those will never heal.

Things like post traumatic stress syndrome are starting to be recognized, but at the time they were not. It was simply recognized that these people had witnessed terrible events, and that is true. They never got over it and they never will. It is sad to watch them cry as they talk about their experiences.

They went overseas to fight for freedom and democracy and to ensure peace here in Quebec and in Canada. It is important to acknowledge their contribution.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the women's contribution. While their husbands and friends were overseas, the women kept the war economy going. They ensured that the troops had what they needed overseas, and for that we owe them our thanks.

I want to conclude my speech by coming back to what my colleague from the Canadian Alliance said about the widows. Their dead husbands would not be pleased to know that most of these women are being forgotten. These women did their share for the war effort.

Why are we helping 10,000 of these women and forgetting 23,000 others, when the government has enough money to help them? This is absolutely unacceptable. We have said this before in the House and we are saying it again today. We will not abandon these widows, for the same reasons that I just gave for the men.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to my father, who passed away a few years ago. He fought overseas. He saw some of his friends come back from the front line in baskets, because they had lost their limbs. They were still alive, but they were being carried in baskets. These are dreadful images.

These people suffered, and today we must acknowledge those sufferings. The last thing I would like to say to them is that we will never forget what they did for us.

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do hope that we can have silence and attention in the House of Commons as we give our Veterans' Week messages.

Last month, the people of Canada were again reminded of the risks of military service when two brave Canadian soldiers lost their lives while on duty in Afghanistan. Not only were we reminded of the courage of our Canadian Forces, we were reminded that those who serve under the Canadian flag are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of freedom. The families of those who have lost their sons remain in the thoughts and prayers of each and every one of us.

Our Canadian history is made complete by our proud military heritage. Since Confederation, Canadian men and women have repeatedly shown that they will offer their lives so that we, each and every one of us here today, may live in peace and security.

Some 60 years ago when I was just a little girl, my five brothers answered the call of duty. I will never forget that day. I was only five years old and my mother was ironing in the kitchen when they walked in and said, “Mum, we all signed up today”. “Oh, no,” she said, “not all of you”. They said, “Yes, Mum, we all signed up today”.

Two of my brothers were in the full force overseas through all those years of the second world war. With the fires of war burning in Europe, they volunteered their service in the name of Canada. For as long as I live, I will always remember my mother's face when they told her that day what they had done. On her face was a mixture of fear, hope, pride and concern.

Our experience was no different from that of many Canadian families. As the hon. member from the Bloc has just stated, his father went. Many of our fathers and brothers were there and, yes indeed, our sons. They left the safety of our continent for the untold dangers abroad. Many returned. Too many did not return.

There are no words to express the sorrow and grief we feel when a man or woman in uniform is taken from us. There is nothing we can say here today that will restore their place in our hearts, but we can and we must honour their memory. We honour their memory by sharing the stories of their selflessness with future generations.

As was stated by the hon. member from the Alliance, many of us have asked our veterans to go into the schools. Many of them do. In fact, I will be going into a high school on Monday to talk about what happened in the second and first world wars.

We honour their memory by sharing the stories of their selflessness with future generations. We honour their memory by worshipping those who return home.

In our memories, these great Canadians continue to serve. They serve as an example of the best our nation can offer the world. They serve as a warning for those who would challenge the safety and security of our borders. They serve as a reminder of the courage that lives in the hearts of men.

And yes, like all of my colleagues who have spoken here today, I too want the war widows to all be treated equally. I cannot believe we have not done that. I know that a lot of our colleagues on the government side agree with us. They must all be treated equally. I stand here today because of the selflessness and sacrifice of those war widows as well as that of our men and women in uniform. We enjoy the luxury of freedom because they stood to defend us in times of need.

Ladies and gentlemen in this House and members of Parliament, let us never forget them. Let us always remember them. Lest we forget.

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

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.

Veterans WeekRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now observe a moment of silence in honour of our war veterans.

[Editor's Note: The House stood in silence]

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian interparliamentary group respecting its participation at the 108th conference and related meetings of the Interparliamentary Union held in Santiago, Chile from April 6 to 12, 2003.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 5, Citizenship and Immigration Canada--Control and Enforcement of the April 2003 report of the Auditor General of Canada, and the 26th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 4, Correctional Service Canada--Reintegration of Women Offenders, of the April 2003 report of the Auditor General of General.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests the government to table a comprehensive response to these two reports.