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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was forces.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) to table a report on the golden nematode situation in Quebec.

The second report I am tabling today is the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. In accordance with the order of reference of Tuesday, April 25, I am reporting the main estimates to the House.

Supporting Communities Partnership InitiativePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is an initiative of the Maison d'accueil pour les sans-abri, and it concerns the SCPI program.

Approximately 1,025 people have signed this petition. I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the petition was put together by Sylvain Plourde, who obtained the signatures in support of this initiative.

It is unacceptable that we cannot help the homeless. I therefore ask the government, with this petition, to make permanent the SCPI program, which is due to end in March 2007.

The second petition concerns the organization of street workers and runs along the same lines. It asks the government to reinstate the SCPI program in order to help people who are homeless and need shelter.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of petitions to present.

One petition is signed by a number of people from my riding who are asking me to table this petition in the House in support of raising the age of consent to 16.

Automobile IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition signed by a couple of hundred people from across the country who want the government to revisit the whole question of our auto strategy and actually begin to deal with our auto industry in a way which indicates that the government appreciates the very important contribution it makes to our economy. The petitioners are calling on the government to act quickly and aggressively to develop an automotive trade policy that protects jobs and communities.

Copyright ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to bring forward to the House today two petitions.

The first is signed by people from right across this country in regard to developing new copyright legislation that recognizes the careful balance between the rights of the creator and fair public use. Given that digital technologies have recently given copyright holders the ability to upset the traditional balance in the Copyright Act by preventing Canadians from accessing works that they should have fair access to, the petitioners are asking Parliament to ensure that users are recognized as interested parties in any future copyright decisions and to ensure that any material changes in copyright legislation preserve the concept of fair use and the rights of users to fairly access works.

Automobile IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I would like to bring forward today concerns the need for an auto policy in Canada, particularly the rise in concern over current free trade negotiations with Korea and what that will do to our domestic auto market, because we are very dependent in this country on our auto industry. There has been major bleed-off in this sector and we are not seeing any replacements for the lost jobs.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to, first, cancel negotiations for this agreement with Korea, which would worsen the one-way flood of automotive products into our country, and second, to do as we in the New Democratic Party have called for some time, which is to create an automotive trade policy. Part of this would require Korea and other offshore markets to purchase an equivalent volume of finished autos from North America as a condition of its continued access to our market.

I am very pleased to present this to the House.

Automobile IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to present a petition from well over 100 individuals, many of them from southwestern Ontario in communities such as Windsor and London, which are being very hard hit by the lack of a strategy around auto policy in this country.

We have waited for a very long time, with many promises, but of course the result has been that we are losing auto manufacturing jobs throughout that region in devastating numbers. My most recent visit to the area underlined that with the thousands of jobs lost. The petitioners are calling for a cancellation of the negotiations for free trade with Korea, because this would preserve the one-way arrangement which currently is hurting our market as we cannot sell to Korea but their cars can come here. The petitioners are calling for a new auto policy for Canada so that we can actually enjoy a much more successful auto industry than we have been experiencing lately.

I am honoured to present this petition.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 89 will be answered today.

Question No. 89Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

With regard to the Canadian Heritage program announced in December 2002 that allocated $172.5 million in funding to establish and operate a new Aboriginal Languages and Cultures Centre: (a) what were the year-by-year funding totals to this program; (b) what was the status of this program when the current government came to power; (c) what funding changes have taken place since January 2006; (d) what, if any, future plans are there for this program; and (e) what initiatives is the governement currently undertaking to help preserve Aboriginal languages?

Question No. 89Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), in December 2002, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that she would invest $172.5 million over 10 years towards the preservation, revitalization and promotion of aboriginal languages and cultures. A ministerial Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures was appointed in 2003 to make recommendations on priorities for this investment.

To date, $12.5 million has been disbursed for the administration of the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures, $2.5 million, and for a two year extension of the current federal funding program, the aboriginal languages initiative, $5 million in 2003-04 and $5 million in 2004-05.

In response to (b), the program was in a holding pattern when the current government took office. Apart from the $12.5 million, the initial allocation of resources had not been accessed. The previous government had no plan on how to spend the money. Between 2003 and 2005, the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures consulted extensively with first nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. The result of these consultations, and the collective knowledge of task force members themselves, culminated in the task force report “Towards a New Beginning”, which was released in July 2005.

In response to (c), in March 2006, an additional $5 million was committed to extend the aboriginal languages initiative for the 2006-07 fiscal year. This new money is permanent. The original $160 million had been earmarked by a previous government. However, the implementation was not completed. As announced in 2002, the funds remaining from this commitment were to have supported the creation of an aboriginal languages and cultures centre, with a mandate to provide support for all aboriginal languages. The current government is not of the view that this approach is the most appropriate means of working toward the revitalization and preservation of first nation, Inuit, and Métis languages. The $5 million in permanent funding will mean stable funding for aboriginal languages, while they are considered in the wider context of the new government’s approach to meeting the needs of aboriginal people. Through the aboriginal languages initiative, aboriginal communities across Canada have access to funding in support of activities to revitalize their languages. In 2005-06, this initiative provided funding to over 300 community-based aboriginal languages projects.

In response to (d), the Government of Canada recognizes that the revitalization of aboriginal languages will require working in partnership with aboriginal people. Department of Canadian Heritage officials are currently discussing approaches to support aboriginal languages with first nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and organizations across the country.

In response to (e), Canadian Heritage invests approximately $4 million per year through language accords with the three territorial governments. These accords fund community-based language activities and support for programs working towards language revitalization in the territories.

Support for aboriginal languages and cultures is also provided through the northern aboriginal broadcast program. This program enables 13 northern aboriginal broadcasting societies to produce and distribute radio and television programming in seventeen aboriginal languages that is reflective of aboriginal cultures, community issues, concerns and current affairs. These communications societies serve over 400 communities in the three territories and the northern portion of seven provinces.

The Government of Canada is taking other action to improve the quality of life of aboriginal women, children and families, including the recently signed tripartite agreement with British Columbia and the B.C. First Nations Education Steering Committee. This historic agreement will enable children to receive a better quality education, and one with a strong cultural component.

This recent agreement builds on broader education-based language promotion activities taking place across government. For children, aboriginal head start includes culture and language as one of six program components. This preschool language foundation is strengthened with support provided by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to first nations schools for language learning in the K-12 classroom and curriculum development.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, through the cultural education centres program, supports 110 cultural centres which undertake work in communities across Canada that promote school-based language learning. The $8.7 million annual investment leads to the development of curricula for first nation schools that is more culturally relevant to first nation and Inuit student populations and that enhances cultural environment and understanding within communities. The program also supports activities that contribute to increased knowledge and use of traditional languages, increased development of linguistic learning resources and culturally oriented educational curricula.

Together, these initiatives have enabled first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to take steps to revitalize and promote their languages and cultures and will contribute to creating the conditions that enable them to participate fully in Canada’s prosperity.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 106 and 108 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is it the pleasure of the House that Questions Nos. 106 and 108 be made orders for returns and that they be tabled immediately?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 106Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

With regard to the Canadian presence in Afghanistan: (a) what is the goal of the Canadian presence in Afghanistan; (b) what is the strategy employed by the government; (c) what are the tactics that are being used; (d) who is the enemy; (e) what is the operational centre of gravity of the enemy; (f) does the government have a political strategy to attain its goal; (g) is terrorism the greatest security threat that Canada faces; (h) does the government consider that Canada is at war; (i) what is the condition that the government would consider to be “civil war”; (j) what does the government deem to be the nature of counter-insurgency warfare and does this condition exist in Afghanistan; (k) what Canadian Forces (CF) manuals deal with counter-insurgency; (l) what are the current rules of engagement for the CF in Afghanistan; (m) what has been the change in rules of engagement since Canada left Operation Enduring Freedom; (n) is the government aware of the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan who help the Taliban; (o) if there are foreign fighters where do they come from on the whole; (p) what is the opinion of the government regarding the security of the Afghan border with Pakistan; (q) what is the opinion of the government regarding Pakistani cooperation in achieving the objectives of the mission; (r) does the government have an opinion as to when the goals of the Canadian presence will be achieved; (s) when was the decision to deploy a combat mission to Kandahar made by the government; (t) how well are CF capabilities matched to the conditions in the southern region of Afghanistan and to counter insurgency; (u) what is the size and configuration of task forces available for use in Afghanistan through to February 2009; (v) what has been the effect of increased training throughout the forces on the capability of these task forces; (w) how has the training of new recruits been effected by the extension of the mission until 2009; (x) does the CF use dogs in combat missions; (y) what are the protocols used in relation to dogs and civilians and detainees respectively; (z) would Canadian lawyers be allowed to contact and represent detainees while they are held by CF and, if not, what legal authority or doctrine would justify this refusal; (aa) is the arrangement concerning detainees of December 18, 2005, still the current policy of the Department of National Defence following the handover of command to NATO; (bb) what reconstruction projects are underway in Kandahar province under the supervision of the CF; (cc) are there any plans to increase the size of the Provincial Reconstruction Team before 2009; (dd) what is the government position with regard to support by the government of Pakistan, particularly the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence for the Taliban; (ee) what is the length and nature of extra training that is provided for CF personnel going to Afghanistan; (ff) what is the number of enemy captured since the CF arrived in Kandahar; and (gg) has the CF engaged Al Qaeda fighters since moving to Kandahar?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 108Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

With regard to the Canadian presence in Afghanistan: (a) what is the allotment of money set aside in the fiscal framework for the remainder of the mission; (b) how does the mission effect the fiscal framework; (c) what new weapons systems have been purchased, or will be purchased for the remainder of the mission; (d) was there a M777 howitzer purchased for the mission in Kandahar and, if so, what was the cost of the system; (e) does the Canadian Forces use the Excalibur ordinance system developed by Raytheon and, if so, what is the unit cost per shell of the Excalibur ordinance system; (f) what is the added cost associated with the deployment of a leopard tank squadron; and (g) what are the project names and budgets, itemized by project, for each foreign aid project that Canada is financing in Afghanistan?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is it agreed that the remaining questions be allowed to stand?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately take the following steps to assist members and veterans of the Canadian Forces and their families:

1. amend Section 31 (1) of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act so that second spouses of CF members and veterans have access to pension rights upon the death of the Canadian Forces member or veteran;

2. extend the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) to all widows of all veterans, regardless of the time of death of the veteran and regardless of whether the veteran was in receipt of VIP services prior to his or her death;

3. increase the Survivor’s Pension Amount upon death of Canadian Forces retiree to 66% from the current amount of 50%;

4. eliminate the unfair reduction of Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) long term disability benefits from medically released members of the Canadian Forces; and

5. eliminate the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled CF members.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour and a pleasure to rise today in the House of Commons on behalf of our leader and our party from coast to coast to coast to have a full day of respectful discussion in this House. There may be some disagreement, but we will have a respectful discussion on veterans and their families. It has been a long time coming for the House to dedicate a whole day to the discussion of those brave men and women who served our country with great distinction, courage and pride over the many years that we have been a country.

I first want to give a brief background on why this is so important to me and to my colleagues within this party and, I am sure, to many colleagues in the House of Commons.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I was born in Holland. My parents and oldest brother were liberated by the Canadian military and its allies, the Americans, the British and the Poles, during the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45 in World War II.

Shortly after that, my dad was liberated from a work detail camp and came across a Canadian soldier. That Canadian soldier could have been from anywhere in the country. My dad asked him, in his best English, “Why did you come over and help us? Why did Canada do so much to help us?” The young Canadian soldier said, with typical Canadian modesty, “Sir, we had a job to do”. And he walked on.

In 1956, 11 years later, the Dutch government made the decision for the closure of the coal mines where my father had been working in the south of Holland in the province of Limburg over a four to five year period. The only answer in those days for thousands of people and their families was out-migration or, as we say in Dutch, “off you go”, not to another part of the country but to another part of the world.

The choices we had were Rhodesia, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Canada. As my father said to my mother, remembering the military fellow from Canada he met many years before, if Canada has a military like that, imagine what kind of country they have.

So in 1956, at the age of nine months, I, with five brothers and sisters and my mum and dad, came through Pier 21 in Halifax on September 18, 1956. We immediately took a train and settled in the area near Vancouver, British Columbia.

My father taught me right from the get-go about the sacrifices made by Canadians and their allies and by their families who stayed home. It is indeed an honour on behalf of my late father and my mother, who is still with us, and my brothers and sisters and all citizens of the world who were liberated by the Canadians to bring this motion so effectively forward today in the House of Commons.

I encourage all members of Parliament to support the initiatives of this motion. If they have disagreements of any kind on the technicalities, that is fine. Let us bring it to a committee where we can discuss it further so we can improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Of course, the number one item that we wish to talk about briefly is what we call “the clause of marriage past 60”. When we have the privilege of being married to someone for many years, that is a wonderful thing, but sometimes a spouse passes away or the marriage ends in divorce or whatever. If those individuals remarry at 58 or 59, when they pass on later their second spouse is entitled to their pension benefits, but if they remarry at age 60 or beyond, they and their children are not entitled to any benefits. That has to change.

Changing this is something that is supported unanimously by the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Association and the National Council of Veterans Associations. I would like to give a tip of the hat to Jack Frost of the Royal Canadian Legion, Mr. Lorne McCartney of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Association, and Cliff Chadderton, a decorated war hero of World War II and a tireless fighter on behalf of all veterans and their families.

The other item is one that should seem very familiar to my Conservative colleagues because their leader, the Prime Minister, actually made this promise. It is the extension of VIP services for all widows and widowers of veterans, regardless of the time of a veteran's death.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you or the people who are listening have had a chance to see the Clint Eastwood movie called Flags of our Fathers. There is a very poignant scene at the beginning of the movie when an elderly war veteran is shaking in his bed, having a nightmare, and shouting out, “Where's Iggy, where's Iggy?” And here I do not mean the current candidate for the Liberal leadership. He is shouting for his friend, who was left on the beaches of Iwo Jima.

The person comforting that veteran is his wife who is elderly. She looks after him in the home and is the primary caregiver of this individual. When the veteran passes on we should not abandon or forget about the caregiver and the spouse who looked after our dedicated heroes.

The extension to the VIP allows individuals to stay in their homes even longer, and that is caring for someone with respect and dignity. In the end, if we want to talk about fiscal arguments, it actually saves the government money. The least we can do is provide housekeeping and groundskeeping services for all veterans and their widows, regardless of the time of death of the individual.

We would also like to talk about the elimination of the SISIP LTD services, the service income security insurance plan, long term disability. When veterans receive this, there is actually a deduction from another form of income. We do not believe that disability payments for our veterans should be taxable. Those should be given to veterans for the service they have done for our country.

The other day the defence ombudsman came out with a report that was very damaging to the government. It basically said that for the Medak Pocket and those who served in Kuwait, veterans' medical records were missing, changed or not there at all. When military personnel serve their country, in sound spirit and body, they need to know that if they return with an injury, either physical or mental, that the government, and especially this Parliament, will look after their needs and the needs of their families. That is extremely important.

What I would like to focus on the most in terms of my discussion is the elimination of the deduction from annuity for retired and disabled veterans. In 1966, when the Canada pension plan was introduced, the pension programs of all federal and provincial public servants, with the exception of members of Parliament and Senators, were blended. They paid a portion of CPP and a portion of superannuation and when they reached the age of 65 they received their superannuation of, for argument's sake, $2,500 a month from the Canadian Forces. They then would receive their Canada pension plan at age 65. However, the amount they received from CPP, which, for argument's sake, we will say was $700, was deducted from their superannuation. We believe that needs to change.

The arguments we get from governments, the previous one and the current one, is that they never paid enough into their programs to qualify for both. That is simply not correct. The reality is that these veterans in 1966 and 1967 never had an opportunity to even debate this. This was done without consultation with them. What cost do we put into people who serve our country with courage and distinction?

Veterans pay into the superannuation, the Canada pension plan, and the EI program and yet at age 65 they end up collecting just one. We are saying that if at age 65 they can collect their superannuation and a reduced CPP, because everyone can collect CPP at age 60, they already lose one-third of their CPP benefits. Therefore, if their superannuation pension is, for argument's sake, $2,500 a month and their Canada pension is $500 a month, they get to collect them both. There is no deduction. The deduction happens at age 65 which is when they need the money the most. These are elderly men and women. They do not need to be clawed back as we say or the official term is a benefit reduction.

I personally want to thank the following three individuals from my riding who came to me a year and a half ago on this very same issue: Mr. John Labelle, Mr. Roger Boutin and Mr. Mel Pittman, three ex-servicemen who served their country with distinction. They asked me if there was anything that could be done to raise this issue in the House of Commons, such as introducing a private member's bill or something to address this issue. We have done that in the form of Bill C-221. Their website has over 82,000 individual names of ex-servicemen and current service personnel, who are serving or have served, who support the initiative.

We would also like to see this to eventually include all RCMP officers who not only serve our country mostly at home but also overseas sometimes. They serve with great pride and distinction and we should not ignore the services of our RCMP officers as well.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Association and the Royal Canadian Legion have supported this endorsement. We are looking at hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country who want this issue revisited. They want it addressed and they would like it done now.

On a more personal note, a good friend of mine, Mr. Reid Myers of Fall River, Nova Scotia, was a liberator of the Netherlands. He is now 83 or 84 years old and his wonderful, beautiful wife, Marion, is his prime caregiver. I would like everyone in the House to look at veterans, or maybe someone in their own family, in terms of their sunset years, as we call them, their golden years, look at them straight in the face and say that we cannot do any of these things.

We should ask these veterans about their younger days when they joined the services and went overseas to fight for peace, freedom and democracy. Did they question how much it cost? Did they question the technicalities of legislation in the House of Commons? No, they did not. At that time they went overseas for King and country. They knew they had a job to do and they did it voluntarily. These veterans are our greatest heroes and Canada's greatest volunteers.

As Rick Mercer once said, if we are going to take the very best of Canada and move them into the worst parts of the world in war and conflict, we might as well give them the gold card. It is the least that they deserve.

As well, when they come back and they suffer through various disabilities, mental challenges or old age, we should be looking after them. That is the time to ensure that all services and all support programs adequately meet their needs, and there should not be any hesitation on that. We have the fiscal capacity to do it and it is time to restore economic dignity to the men and women of our services and the men and women who look after our brave veterans. We believe that is the minimum we should do.

We will all soon be gathered at cenotaphs and monuments around the country and, in many cases, around the world. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we will be bowing our heads in respect, honour and dignity of those who have passed on. Over 117,000 Canadian men and women, who are buried in over 70 countries around the world, have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We call that day Remembrance Day.

I remind the House of the parents of Nathan Smith, of Braun Woodfield and of Paul Davis. Those are just 3 of the recent 42 Canadian service personnel who were killed in Afghanistan. For their parents, their brothers and sisters, their other relatives and their friends and family, Remembrance Day is every day for them. They live with that every day and the least we can do in the House of Commons for those young men and women who gave us the greatest gift of all, an unfinished life, is to give them the respect and dignity they deserve for their ultimate sacrifice. Their sacrifice allowed us, you and I, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues in the House of Commons, to come here in a democratic way and discuss our differences in a parliamentary fashion .

Our freedoms do not come cheap. These brave young men and women know that. They have the ultimate liability when they sign on the dotted line. We, as members of Parliament, should have the ultimate responsibility and not just to the time when they wear the uniform. Our responsibility carries on all the way through their natural lives, including that of their families.

I will give the previous government and the current government credit, along with other members of Parliament from all parties who have passed along the new veterans charter that was enacted in April of this year. The charter will go a long way in addressing some of the issues that some veterans have, along with their families.

However, as in all legislation, it does not go far enough. The five points that my party has addressed today would go a long way in addressing many of the issues that have been brought to the attention of all members in the House of Commons. I do not believe there is one member of Parliament in the House who has not had a veteran, a current armed forces personnel, the spouse of a veteran or the children of a veteran come to them with an issue regarding the military or veterans affairs.

Everyone in the House supports the troops. What the motion asks is that we support them even longer, right to the end of their natural lives, including that of their spouses. If we do this, we will be truly saying on Remembrance Day that we honour them and we respect them. We know for sure that this House can work in a cooperative fashion in doing something that we should all agree with without hesitation.

The fact is that these are our bravest Canadians. They are the ones who lost their lives so we could live in peace, freedom and democracy. Just maybe there is a little kid somewhere in another country who looks up at a Canadian soldier and says the same thing that my father said in 1944, “if they have a military like that, imagine what kind of country they come from”.

This is the type of image that our Canadian military men and women have around the world. This is the image of our veterans when we see them standing in the cold at the cenotaphs and memorials on November 11 from coast to coast to coast or when we see them in the hospitals if they have become shut-ins and cannot make it out.

I know many veterans who stay at home, put their medals on and then watch the ceremonies that take place here in Ottawa on TV. We all know that the men and women of the military and the veterans wear their medals with pride and distinction. They wear their medals because of service to their country but, most important, they wear them because of their friends and comrades who never had the chance to wear theirs.

When we see these veterans and the current armed forces personnel and their families, we should shake their hands, give them a hug and say thanks or merci beaucoup for the services they have provided.

We know all too well what happened to many veterans when they returned from the wars. We know exactly what happened with our aboriginal veterans. Many of them were not treated with the greatest of respect. We know that these things are slowly changing but we are hoping this particular resolution will move things even faster with the cooperation of members of the House of Commons.

I may be a little emotional on this but it is because everything I have, everything my parents were able to do and everything my brothers and sisters have has been because we moved to Canada. Canada gave us everything. God has blessed my mom and dad and my family and they have blessed this country. Canada has been blessed with Canadian soldiers, Canadian airmen, Canadian merchant mariners and Canadian navy personnel and their families who gave us and still give us the greatest gift of all. The least we can do in this House of Commons is to honour them and look after them in their final years. We need to ensure that when they become injured in any capacity that Canada will look after them. We must not argue about technicalities, legislative concerns or whatever. This is the minimum we can do.

I know some members in this House have served in our services and for that I respect and honour them. I know everyone in this House of Commons will stand proud with our veterans on Remembrance Day but we must remember that for them Remembrance Day is every day.

The NDP is proud of the five points that we have filed in our motion today on behalf of all veterans and service personnel. We believe it is fair, respectful and balanced. As we say in various cenotaphs throughout the country on November 11, at the going down of the sun we will remember them.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to first of all congratulate the hon. member for his eloquent, emotional and immensely important speech supporting these resolutions. As he has mentioned, he expects all members of this House to support these resolutions, and I for one will stand to support them. I would like to make a brief comment and then I have a question for the hon. member.

The hon. member came to Canada as an immigrant. Many countries sent soldiers and armed forces to liberate Europe. My father was one of those who went over. As a result of those people who fought for freedom in Europe and in the Pacific, I am one of the first generation of Canadian-born people who have never had to face war in that sense. We have had, of course, many military and peacebuilding missions, but we and our children have never been faced with the concept of a world war where, either by conscription or simply by national imperative, we have had to march off to war other than by personal choice and commitment.

While I heartily endorse these resolutions, I wonder if we can use them as a bridge to have a broader appreciation in Canada of people who are not in the armed services, but who are also spreading issues of peace and poverty alleviation around the world, whether they are working for things like CPAR, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, CUSO, World University Service of Canada or World Vision Canada.

Canada's presence in the world is not simply our armed forces, although they provide perhaps the most visible example of that sacrifice. There are many Canadian humanitarian workers going abroad to make the world a better place and to provide a better quality of life, in fact any quality of life for people in many areas of despair around the world. Would the member care to comment?

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, yes, it was not just military personnel. There were also a lot of civil servants and other people in other aspects of our society who served as well with great distinction. I remember quite clearly that we lost one of our federal public servants who served over in Afghanistan. We need to remember all of them as well.

On this issue, it is quite clear to us on this side, and I believe for others, that now is the time to reflect upon the great and valiant efforts of our Canadian men and women in the military. Now is the time to ensure that we do not get another ombudsman's report like we did the other day. Now is the time to ensure that when young Canadian men and women sign up for the military, if they become injured, either physically or mentally in any way, they know that they and their families will be well looked after by this country.

Opposition Motion--Canadian ForcesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to greet you and wish you a good day.

My colleague opposite sits with me on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. We are currently looking at creating the position of ombudsman for veterans.

I would like my colleague to say what he thinks of that possibility. I would also like to know whether the future ombudsman would report I see to the House or to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.