Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois joins with the minister and all other colleagues to commemorate the events of June 6, 1944. It is easy for me to speak about that day because my father, who took part in the liberation of Holland, told many stories about those events.
Of course, he did not take part in the landing in Normandy. DUring this landing, Canadian troops set foot in Europe for the first time. They expected strong resistance since the Nazis had built a whole series of bunkers and put barbed wire and guns on the beach in anticipation of the landing. Quebeckers and Canadians distinguished themselves during the battle.
We must remember that the Americans landed on Utah and Omaha Beaches. The British had three divisions, which landed on Sword and Gold Beaches, and on Juno Beach in the middle. Canadians and Quebeckers played a heroic role in breaking through enemy lines; unfortunately, a great number of them lost their lives. There were 14,000 Canadians under the command of General Keller. At the end of the day, there were 1,074 casualties, including 359 killed in action.
It is important to remember our veterans, and I believe that the younger generations today does not know what sacrifices those people made. It is important to commemorate this event every year, and also to have an interpretive monument at Juno Beach to explain to future generations how important those who fought for our freedom really were.
We will therefore take part in any event held to honour veterans because, as I just said, they fought and died for the values of our societies—of Europe, Canada, and the United States. These people knew the importance of freedom, including the freedom of speech. They also knew that we live in a democratic system and were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, to risk their lives to protect these values.
Therefore, when an event such as June 6, 1944 is to be commemorated, we must clearly state that we are in full agreement. Many people risked their lives and many lives were lost. They were people who could have stayed at home and they could have said, “I just want to live a quiet life with my family”.
Yes, of course, there was conscription, and we cannot overlook this fact. Quebeckers said no to conscription, and yet, many Quebecers went overseas to serve and do their duty. My father was one of them, along with the 14,000 Canadians mentioned earlier, undoubtedly several thousand from Quebec.
And so, I think this is the appropriate thing to do. Let us commemorate, let us make sure that the history is known, so that the next generation knows that the quality of life we enjoy today, and the fact that we live in a democratic and open world, where there is freedom of expression, are due in large part to these soldiers, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The war in Normandy was difficult. We lost many soldiers there, in order to preserve the values of which I have just spoken.
In conclusion, we in the Bloc Quebecois, along with all the parties in this House, are going to commemorate the these people's actions. Lest we forget.