Mr. Speaker, someone said it is not a clawback, but a deduction from one's pension by any other name can be considered a clawback by the person whose military pension is being reduced. I understand that the Conservative Party does not support this bill, but the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, who has been championing this bill for some years now, and I agree that there ought to be special consideration given for veterans and RCMP officers. One might ask why. There are good reasons why and I will get to them shortly.
I want to echo what the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour said. We as parliamentarians are in a very special position in this country. Not only do we get to sit in the House of Commons, in Parliament, but we also get invited on numerous occasions to join with veterans to remember the service they gave and to support their efforts to look after veterans.
The Royal Canadian Legion is one of those organizations. I am sure that many members of the House were at events over the past weekend. I visited and had dinner with Branch 50 at CBS, Conception Bay South, on Saturday night. They are working to rebuild a war memorial in their town. They are moving the one from the old place and building a memorial not only to veterans of the armed forces, but also police and firefighters. It is a combined memorial with a separate place for veterans. They have a private place in the middle of that memorial and there are side memorials for the others. That is a great community effort made by Branch 50 in CBS.
Yesterday afternoon I was on Bell Island celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic with veterans and the community. As some members may know, if they listened to my speech on the occasion of Juno Beach last June, Newfoundland and Labrador was the only place in North America with a direct hit from the German army and navy during the second world war. Four boats were sunk by torpedos from U-boats in September and November 1942 while docked on Bell Island to take on iron ore. The Caribou ferry also sank in the Cabot Strait with a significant loss of life. Again, that was enemy action during wartime, which Newfoundland and Labrador alone experienced in North America.
We do have a close connection with the veterans. The member for Sackville—Eastern Shore has brought that to the House and we offer our support of that. I want to explain why. Aside from the great contribution that veterans, people in the armed forces and people in the RCMP have made to keep our communities and our country in keeping our country safe, they also have families that move around constantly during their careers. A member of the Canadian Forces could move from one base to another and over the course of a career move to many different places. It is the same with RCMP officers who are often moved from one community to another with their families.
This creates a particular family dynamic. It is often difficult for a spouse to maintain an employment career that is equal to those who might be in a stationary workforce. This obviously affects their long-term income as a family and clearly would have, as a consequence, a greater need for retirement income. This is one way to recognize that.
As my colleague from Timmins—James Bay mentioned earlier, we have a government that constantly reminds us and tries to suggest that, among all members of the House, its members are the ones who support our veterans, our troops and the armed forces. However, when we look at something like this, it pales. When there is a real opportunity to make the retirement lives of our veterans and serving RCMP officers better, the government does not support it.
It falls into the category of lip service. It is shameful that the government has taken away the opportunity or is not prepared to grant the opportunity for veterans to continue to receive their full pensions and enjoy their retirement instead of having them clawed back at age 65 when the Canada pension plan kicks in.
The government did not cause this problem. This was a problem that was inherent in the structure of the Canada pension plan when it was introduced in 1966, but it is a problem that it can help us fix. The member for Sackville—Eastern Shore has been working on this for several years. He indicates five years. I have heard him talk about it many times in caucus, in the House and with veterans who are very interested in this issue.
I am sure veterans will be talking to the member from Alberta, whose riding I cannot remember at the moment. They have spoken to me about it. They raise it at events. I am sure when the member speaks, he will give an explanation as to why the government is saying no. Perhaps he will. I hope he is explaining it to the individual veterans who we speak with, who are concerned enough about this issue to sign petitions in massive numbers. More than 100,000 petitioners have signed in support of this.
It is well known in Canadian legions across the country that this action is taking place. I hope people are paying attention to the debate. Not only is it important that we support our troops and recognize they are providing a great service to us, but service to veterans is something that my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore has been championing ever since he has been in the House.
This year he is celebrating, along with other nationals of Holland, the liberation of Holland by Canadian troops. My colleague is both a native of Holland and a very proud Canadian citizen. However, also very dear to his heart is the relationship between Holland and not only the Canadian soldiers of today and yesterday but all Canadians. The Canadian people are recognized by the people of the Netherlands for the liberation and the commitment and sacrifice that Canadian soldiers were prepared to make during World War II to liberate them from the Nazi occupation and oppression.
This is one of the things that makes Canadians proud, that other countries respect the sacrifice and willingness that our young men and women were able and willing to undertake for the cause of freedom to fight off Nazi oppression during World War II. It had to be done and our young men and women were prepared to make the sacrifice to do that, in both Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, which was a separate country at the time. I am sure all members of the House know that. If they do not, they will certainly know it by the time I leave here. It is obviously part of our constitutional history.
It is important to remember that our country is made up of many parts, and we all come together for the greater good and a great cause in the nation of Canada and our place in the world today. However, how we treat our veterans is also a mark of how well we respect the work they do on our behalf throughout their lives and working careers. The same goes for RCMP officers who put their lives on the line to protect our communities throughout their working careers as well.
I would ask all hon. members to support this bill and those who have been speaking against it to reconsider their vote, if it comes to a vote this morning.