Mr. Speaker, I thought the member would pose a question to the minister but since he proceeded to debate I will make my comments and perhaps respond to some of the questions he included in his debate.
First, I want to thank him for acknowledging the importance of the education assistance program for children of deceased veterans killed in the line of duty.
Second, on the question of whether the time prisoners of war spend eluding capture after an escape is included in the calculation of the benefits given to them, I assure the member that has been the interpretation since 1988. If the member should come across any case where it could have been interpreted otherwise, I would ask him to please let me know and my department will look into it.
Lastly, I would reiterate that on the extension of benefits to the surviving spouses, I in fact raised that issue myself when we were discussing it with the leaders of the national veterans organizations. It was not an easy task when we could not include those whose benefits had ended.
We were in a dilemma. Should we delay proceeding with a package of initiatives, knowing the twilight years of our veterans, while we continued to search for sources of funding for the additional funding that we would need? Or, should we proceed since time was of the essence? With much difficulty and in our collective unanimity we decided to proceed.
I just wanted to convey to the House that it was not for lack of heart or lack of will. It was only the reality of the time.