Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues from all parties for the support on my private member's bill, Bill C-473.
On any given day, approximately 8,000 Canadian Forces personnel are preparing for, engaging in, or are returning from an overseas mission. They follow in the footsteps of Canadians who for more than 200 years have answered the call and sacrificed all they knew, all the comforts, love and safety of home in order to defend the freedoms of others.
The efforts and sacrifices of Canada's armed forces throughout history and as we speak must not be forgotten.
More than 30 years ago, at a time when World War II and the Korean war were still fresh in our memories, the Government of Canada responded to the need to protect Canada's heritage by introducing the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. This act seeks balance between the need to protect the nation's heritage and the property rights of private owners.
Regulations under the Cultural Property Export and Import Act specify categories of objects which require a permit to leave Canada for any reason temporarily or permanently. Military medals, orders and decorations are of course included but, like other protected objects, they must be 50 years old.
It is time for our modern medals to receive the same protection accorded to our historic medals and that is what this bill, Bill C-473, seeks to achieve.
Bill C-473 speaks to the importance of our military heritage. As well, it fills an important gap by focusing on Canada's modern military honours.
Bill C-473 will ensure that federal museums are given the opportunity to acquire and protect modern military medals, orders and decorations which are no less deserving than those given 50 or 100 years ago to brave Canadians.
This enactment places restrictions on the transfer of insignia of military orders, decorations and medals of cultural significance to persons who are not residents of Canada.
As the House knows, there are Canadians actively seeking to protect our military medals by keeping them in Canada. For example, Dave Thomson from St. George, Ontario, is known by many as the “medal detector” for his hobby of repatriating Canadian medals from Internet auction sites like eBay. He recently found three first world war medals belonging to Lance-Corporal Walter Clemens Leslie who was born in my riding of Perth—Wellington. I think they have been returned now to the Stratford Perth Museum.
In the same way, this bill still provides fair market value to anyone who wishes to sell an insignia awarded under the authority of Her Majesty in Right of Canada, but they must provide first right of refusal to the Government of Canada by submitting an offer to the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization or the Department of Canadian Heritage.
My inspiration for this bill comes from the veterans and future veterans from my riding and across Canada who serve or have served our country. This bill will ensure the accolades from their acts of bravery will remain on Canadian soil and will continue to honour them as part of our Canadian heritage.