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House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I will recognize the member for Newmarket—Aurora, but I would caution all members that if they are raising a point of order, it needs to be an appropriate point of order dealing with process and not a matter of debate.

Is the hon. member's point of order such?

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to remind the member that there was no number floated by the Prime Minister.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

That is a point of debate or possibly a point of fact, but it is not a point of order.

The hon. member for St. John's East quickly on the same point of order.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

It is not a point of order, Mr. Speaker, but on questions and comments.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time for questions and comments has expired. We will ever be wondering what that question was.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House, as I always am, to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay on an issue that I think is fundamentally at the heart of what we are about as parliamentarians.

The fact is that we are here to debate a motion that had to be brought forward because of the Prime Minister's cavalier attitude toward the working people of this country, the senior citizens in this country.

We have almost grown used to the attitude of the Prime Minister, who shows regular contempt for the House of Commons, shutting down debate, ordering secret meetings, but I think people across Canada were somewhat shocked that the Prime Minister would talk to the millionaires in Davos and tell them that our senior citizens are living high off the hog and that we had to get this thing in order.

This is a government that had a $13 billion surplus and ran it into the ground before the deficit even started. Under the Prime Minister, government spending on ministerial offices has gone through the roof. The Conservatives have made the poor old Liberals look like they were wearing sackcloth and ashes and were so careful after the way the Conservatives spend. That is some piece to get away with, and that was done under the Prime Minister. Blowing money is not a problem with the Conservatives when it comes to blowing it on boats, fighter jets and prisons.

The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development yesterday told us she was worried about a foreign invasion. The Fenians have not come across the border out of Buffalo since 1863 or 1864. A few times the Boston Bruins have come over and caused some fights in Toronto, but there is no need for us to take that off the backs of senior citizens.

The Prime Minister decided to open this debate. I see my colleagues in the Conservative Party are feeling a little ruffled, and damn well they should be, because for the last week my phone has been ringing. Not just senior citizens have been phoning me, but people who are working, younger people, and people who know that what they are seeing from the government is an absolute sham and an absolute scam. They know there is no such thing for most working people as a private pension any more. Most of the people I know are working on contracts, going from contract to contract.

We hear the Conservatives wax on about the underutilized capacity of RRSPs as though if people were just a little sharper, a little smarter, they actually might save for their future, as opposed to the reality, which is that when people are raising a family, going from job to job while trying to put something away, when they fall in between contracts, that is their savings gone. It might be three months, four months, five months or a year. That is their savings gone. People need some form of security.

We have a few setups that were put in place and the most effective was the CPP. Some of the ideologues on the Conservative backbench have a real problem because it was a public system that was set up, but it works. It is low cost. It gives people something. It is effective. The problem is that the CPP has not kept up.

As the New Democrats have been saying, this is a system that works. Allow people to save more and then people will not have to rely on the guaranteed income supplement or the old age security if they have something to fall back on.

We see many people who tried to save RRSPs, and some of them have done very well. If a person is doing very well financially, RRSPs might be okay. However, I know many people in my riding who have lost 30% or 40% of the value of their savings since the 2008 crash. They are trying to find out from us what is happening with old age security.

It is not just that the Prime Minister decided to create a crisis for all the working people who are now in their thirties and forties wondering about what is coming, but it is the lack of vision for what is actually happening on the ground with senior citizens.

In Timmins—James Bay there are large regions of rural populations of senior citizens who are in old farmhouses whose kids have gone down south. They come into my office. They cannot afford to heat their places any more. They do not have enough money. I cannot tell them to move into town because there is no such thing as seniors' housing or long-term care. It is not available. Costs are being put on these families just to heat their houses, so whatever savings they have are eaten up.

This idea is right out of Charles Dickens: “They can work longer. Are there no workhouses? We can make them work until they are 67.”

There are people who can retire. They might not have everything they need to retire but at age 65 or 66 they can continue working doing some work. I know some senior citizens who like to work and it is good because they have incredible experience. However, there is a difference between choosing to work and being forced to work. When we are forced to work because we cannot make ends meet and we are 66 years old, then there is a whole other set of related issues that start to come in. We see larger health care costs. We see all kinds of stress on the family unit. Sometimes family members who have moved away need to move back to deal with their aging parents.

This is not a debate that one starts in Davos by launching a trial balloon or by saying something off the top of one's head. That is not what a responsible Prime Minister does. The Prime Minister had the whole election to talk about what the Conservatives' strategy was for pensions and we heard zip.

The Conservatives have come back and have created this unnecessary crisis. They are feeling very defensive today, we can sense it, because they do not want people paying attention to this. Just like yesterday, when they shut down the debate on the pooled registered pension plan, they do not really want this getting out because when they get back home, sit down with people and tell them that it is their future that is on the line, they will get a whole different response. I think this is something the government knows very well and is feeling a little touchy about.

I would say that if the Conservatives want to go on a tour, we can go on a tour together and visit some of these communities. Let us put their plans on the table and hear what people think, especially those who are 45 years old and who are getting by on a little bit RRSP here and a little RRSP there but who are unable to actually have savings. Let us hear what they have to say when they are told that they will be the sacrificial generation, that they will take it on so that the Prime Minister can tell his buddies in Davos, “You know that $6 billion we blew on Caterpillar in London, that was a good investment. But those seniors, we're getting them in line. Don't you worry”.

When I was a kid, my grandmother always told me that Tory times were hard times, and that is a fact. We have a government that comes from a miserly stock. The Conservatives are as miserly now as they were in my grandmother's day. When Canadians hear that the Conservatives decided to go to Davos and blame our senior citizens for the financial mess they are creating, I think they will have a fight on their hands. I think this is a fight that Canadians know that those guys will lose.

For those folks back home who are maybe a bit younger and have not been involved in pensions, this is about a very small amount of money. We are talking about $491 a month, which is the average monthly guaranteed income supplement. For the OAS, we are talking about $500 a month. My God, those ministers blow more on a lunch than what they are giving to a senior citizen, at $500 a month. Our famous minister from Durham spent $1,300 a day on taxi rides. She hired these limos and drove around Toronto at $1,300 a day. Boy, oh, boy. If she did that five times around the city of Toronto, that would be the OAS for a senior citizen for a year. However, the Prime Minister never said that he would make the member for Durham responsible. No. He decided that it would need to be a senior citizen who had to pay.

This is about priorities and the government has established that its priorities are for its friends, for its buddies and for its ministers who drive around in limousines and that the people who get $500 a month on OAS are just going to have to suck it up. That is not good enough.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, when people talk about the old age security system and the incomes of people, I just want to put on the record and ask the member to comment on the fact that a study done recently on the Atlantic provinces showed that in Newfoundland and Labrador 65% of the seniors relied on old age security or the GIS as their sole source of income.

Now the Conservatives are claiming that they will not hurt them. However, even if they do not hurt them, they will hurt their families, their children and their grandchildren, the young people in this country who may need to rely on this. So, they are invoking fear in the minds of people.

We were wondering whether the Conservatives were going to come clean but they kind of let the cat out of the bag today. They were given six or seven opportunities to tell us whether they would raise the age to 66 or 67 and they said that they would not touch existing seniors. So, the answer is clear and obvious that they will in fact raise the age for OAS to 66, 67 or 68, we do not even know. That is the unknown. However, we do have an answer. They are going to do it. We just do not know who they will do it to, which does invoke fear in the minds of the people in this country.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is another part of the demographic that we see across our country because we have different labour patterns. Northern Ontario and northeastern Ontario have boom-bust economies. I have seen that in many of my communities.

I remember when the Sherman mine, the Adams mine, all of the Agnico mines and the iron ore mines went down. A working population of men, who, on average, were about 48 or 49 years old, suddenly found there was no work for them. The mines offered them retraining. However, in a single mining town they did not have enough for their pensions. By the time the next boom came around, these men were a little too old to get hired. These men, who would normally have paid into pensions, ended up with their wives on old age security and GIS.

That is what happens because there is no such thing as absolute security in income. We see gaps where suddenly savings that are made one year are lost. When people lose their savings they start to look to age 65 as something to reach out to and hold on to because when they hit 65 they will be okay. The government is now saying that it will put that bar just a bit further.

If someone is a friend of the government or the type who can afford a $1,300 limo ride, like my good friend the minister from Durham, then he or she will be okay and will get through. However, for everybody else it is “too bad, Jack”.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:15 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply. The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

During the ringing of the bells:

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote on our motion be deferred until Monday, February 6, at the end of government orders.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. opposition acting whip has asked that the vote be deferred until Monday, February 6 at the end of government orders.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you see the clock at 5:30.

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock at 5:30?

Opposition Motion--Old Age SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from November 3, 2011, consideration of the motion that Bill C-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief relating to war memorials), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

When this matter was last before the House the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice had four minutes remaining in her speech. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Delta—Richmond East B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, when I last rose on Bill C-217, I stated that my colleagues opposite suggested imprisonment would be automatic, and that is not correct.

The proposed mandatory minimum penalties are graduated and, in my view, appropriate. People convicted of this offence should have no illusions as to the minimum punishment that will be meted out to them. One can only hope that these mandatory minimum sentences will be a further deterrent to the senseless acts of vandalism that are so difficult to comprehend.

I would like, however, to echo the hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon with regard to a possible amendment to the bill. I am concerned that as drafted this legislation would provide for a lesser maximum sentence where prosecuted by indictment than for other mischief offences.

I for one would certainly support an amendment, were it brought forward, that would increase the maximum penalty from five years to ten years in order to ensure consistency in terms of the maximum sentence that could be imposed where the Crown proceeds by way of indictment.

I support the objectives of the bill, denouncing conduct which shows disrespect to fallen Canadian servicemen and women. One only need think of the repatriation ceremonies we have witnessed to condemn this criminal behaviour as requiring special review.

I invite all members of the House to support our veterans and support this legislation.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to add a few words in regard to Bill C-217.

It is a bill that we can support in principle in terms of having it go to committee. The Liberal Party critic did get the opportunity to address the bill and we do have some concerns. The member made reference to some of the concerns that would be there. At the end of the day we want to ensure that, if something does happen to one of these war memorial sites, we do not end up sentencing someone to 25 years behind bars. I think it needs to be reasonable. I am not implying that is what this bill is suggesting, but I am sure members can appreciate that sometimes the Conservatives do tend to overreact on some of these minimum sentences.

I will now spend a few minutes talking about the principle of the bill. It is something worthy of supporting. I had the opportunity to serve in the Canadian Forces and met with a good number of individuals who actually fought or participated in war. Especially around the month of November, when I was in the forces, we would participate in parades, go to the legions and hear all sorts of interesting and some very scary stories that were being raised at the time. This gave me a better appreciation of the situation.

For me, that is the reason I believe it is so important that we not only have debate inside the House but that there is an educational component going out to other parts of our communities, such as schools and community centres, educating people in terms of exactly why it is that we have war memorials and the sacrifices made.

I can recall having a discussion a number of years ago with one individual who had been captured and held as a prisoner of war. As a POW, he talked about the starvation that was endured and the types of inhuman treatments that were there would surprise most. To have been able to have someone share that directly, not through a third party, with myself was fairly compelling. It gave me a very real impression.

I have had people talk to me about others not far from them falling in their place after being shot. Again, being able to hear those types of stories expressed on a one-on-one, not through a third party, has a fairly compelling impact on individuals as they try to get a better understanding of what it means to serve one's country.

I served for just over three years, which was not a great length of time, but I can say that it was a memorable time. I appreciate both those who have served in the past and those who are serving today in our forces. Afghanistan and other places throughout the world have had our military forces provide security and support in different ways. Members of our forces have sadly lost their lives providing that service.

That is why when I had the opportunity to be able to share a few words on this, I thought it would be nice just to be able to highlight that.

One incident that was quite touching for myself was inside the Manitoba legislature. We had an opportunity to have some of the war vets on the floor of the chamber and around the back. For me, I had a back row seat. From where I stood and spoke, I could reach out and touch the knee of a WW II vet.

It is because of those efforts that we are in these places today, whether it is in our national institution of the House of Commons, or in the provincial legislatures across Canada. It was a very important symbolic message and it generated a lot of attention in our province.

There are many different ways in which that is done. Sergeant Prince is a wonderful mentor for many people who live in Winnipeg's north end. There is a beautiful mural that has been put in place to honour the sergeant because of his efforts in the war. It is great to see. I especially like the murals for the simple reason they send a very strong message to people walking or driving by. This mural is in the heart of Winnipeg North. A great number of young people are influenced when they see the mural of Sergeant Prince and the efforts he made. It gives a sense of pride.

Whether it is a wall mural or the many decorations in legions, these all send very strong, positive messages. The National War Memorial, which hundreds of thousands of people visit every year, and on special days, gets a great deal of attention. The unnamed soldier is buried there. We take a great deal of pride in these memorials, as we should. A vast majority of Canadians appreciate the efforts that our forces have played in the past and in the modern era. We have all attended legion events or marches.

Last November, I was at the McGregor Armoury, where I witnessed first-hand tributes to those who had fallen in war. It is through this that we never forget. It is important that we go through these times of reflection and we would like to encourage citizens as a whole to participate.

When we look at this bill, it is hard to imagine and why some individuals would think about defacing or causing any form of damage to murals or monuments. It is hard to understand why someone would do such a thing.

I was a chair of a youth justice committee for a while. Sometimes young people do things which are silly and stupid and they do not really realize the consequences. I am not talking about the 10% who cause a lot of issues in terms of public safety. It could be anyone's son or daughter who does something and then a deal of remorse follows. Those youth did not necessarily mean to be disrespectful.

There has to be a balance. That is what we are looking for in Bill C-217. We want a bill that is balanced, that respects our memorials. At the same time, we want to appreciate the Canadian Forces and all those who have sacrificed their lives and much more.

We do not have a problem with Bill C-217 going to committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill C-217, which deals with the important issue of mischief related to war memorials. I thank the member for Dufferin--Caledon for turning our attention to this important problem.

This is a topic with which I am personally familiar, as there are a large number of war memorials in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. The most significant of those is the cenotaph in Memorial Park in Esquimalt. This memorial was unveiled in 1927 to honour the dead from the Great War of 1914-1918. Over time plaques have been added on to this memorial. It now also honours the dead of World War II, Korea and those who died in peacekeeping missions. With its central position in our town, right next to a major bus stop and bus route, it is unfortunately often the target of graffiti. I would argue that has almost always, if not always, been out of ignorance rather than a specific targeting. It is simply a large surface for taggers and is very close to high traffic areas.

As a former city councillor, I am very familiar with the costs of these incidents. The municipality maintains this memorial and pays the cleanup costs for the graffiti that regularly appears there. However, I am also very aware of the cost in terms of the indignity to the veterans and the hurt it causes in Esquimalt, which is very much a military community.

One of the most serious incidents occurred on a Sunday in July of 2008, when a vigilant citizen actually noticed suspicious activity in Memorial Park at about 10:30 p.m. This citizen called the police and a 14 year-old youth was apprehended and released on a promise to appear in court on a charge of mischief. On Monday morning a group of community volunteers, known as ETAG, Esquimalt Together Against Graffiti, was out cleaning the graffiti off that memorial. This volunteer group strives very hard to ensure the prompt removal of graffiti from all public and private property, to take away the thrill that taggers get from seeing their tag in existence in the community. ETAG is very effective. It is a very large group of very hard-working volunteers. Long term chair, Peter Justo, who just retired as chair of that group, and Emmy Labonte and others are out within 24 hours removing graffiti.

They were working on a very large amount of graffiti on this very important war memorial. In fact, not only did the volunteers against graffiti step up, the president of the Esquimalt Legion, Mr. Ken Levine, stepped forward. He called for what he characterized as appropriate punishment for the youth. He did not call for jailing the youth. I think members opposite will be interested in what he thought was the proper solution. He said that the youth ought to have to come to the legion on a regular basis, meet with veterans and hear their stories of sacrifice on his behalf. He felt that when the youth had that re-education, he would then be very much committed to talking to other youth who were taggers to try to avoid tagging the war memorials.

This is the president of my local legion who took a very progressive stance. Again, when we think of a 14 year-old youth, what probably is most awful about that is regularly scheduling his time to meet with old people and listen to them. It would not be as if the youth would feel he was getting off lightly.

Very interestingly, the two police officers involved also publicly called for using this form of restorative justice for this youth rather than see him face a term in some youth custody facility, perhaps putting him in touch with other youth that might lead him further astray, when really the problem was an isolated incident of tagging, with no intention of insulting veterans.

The president of the legion identified the real problem, and that is the failure of youth to understand the great sacrifices that have been made on their behalf by members of the Canadian forces. I believe, in calling for restorative justice, he identified the real solution to this kind of problem.

Some three months after Remembrance Day, it is a good time for all of us to reflect on what more we can do to help build that public education and public consciousness of the sacrifices members of the military have made. I am sure all hon. members attended Remembrance Day events, as I did. One of the most encouraging things I have seen in the past five years is the increasing numbers of youth who show up at those Remembrance Day ceremonies, and not just those who are in cadets, or scouts, or other programs, but simply youth in the crowd paying respect for what has happened in the past.

We are making progress in raising that consciousness of the great contribution the Canadian military makes, but we can do more to try to make it part of our common culture as Canadians to have this respect on an everyday basis and not just on Remembrance Day.

There are many other ways this could be done and I want to single out a grant by Heritage Canada to the Museum of Strathroy-Caradoc. Why would I know about a grant to a museum in Ontario? It created a travelling exhibition on the life Sir Arthur Currie, one of our great generals, who was born in Strathroy but started his military career with the militia in Victoria. This exhibition has been travelling around Canada, with the support of Heritage Canada, trying to make Canadians aware of one of our great heroes, a person not without controversy but a person who made an enormous contribution during the Great War.

We can also promote the work of authors like Tim Cook, a prominent military historian, whose book called The Madman and the Butcher, which I just finished reading, chronicles the unfortunate conflict between the war minister Sam Hughes and the brilliant general Sir Arthur Currie. The more Canadians know our history and the great things that have happened in the past, the fewer problems we will have with the kinds of things addressed in the bill.

We can also go beyond symbolism and support policies that really show respect for our 728,000 or more veterans. We can support policies that would help end the shame of veterans at food banks, in particular the food bank in Calgary which had to be set up to address the needs of 200 veterans and their families. We can support the efforts to end the shame of homeless veterans in our country. It is very difficult to get a number since most veterans do not wish for people to know that they are homeless. They do not wish their families or friends to know. We can support programs that address the suicide rate for veterans, which is quite shockingly high in our country, some 46% higher than other Canadians.

One very important action the government could take is to fully implement the NDP's veterans first motion, which passed in the House in 2006. This would mean doing several things.

It would mean eliminating the unfair reduction in long-term disability payments for injured Canadian Forces personnel and eliminating the clawback of retirement pensions for Canadian Forces and RCMP members who happen to also receive CPP benefits. It would mean eliminating the marriage after 60 rule that prevents spouses from receiving pension and health benefits after the deaths of their veteran spouses if they happen to marry after the age of 60. It would also mean extending the veterans independence program to all widows and veterans so veterans could stay in their homes, take care of themselves and not become a burden on the public, which is something I know all veterans wish to avoid.

Once again, I want to thank the member for bringing our attention to this problem. I know all members share a concern about mischief related to war memorials. However, I am not sure that the government penchant for thinking everything can be solved with a jail term is the right solution to the problem, and that is the solution proposed in the bill.

The solutions lie in restorative justice. They lie in making the perpetrators of these acts of vandalism aware of the harm they cause both the specific people honoured in those memorials and their families and to the larger community. They lie in public education about our military history and the important contribution the Canadian Forces have made, not just in defending Canada but as a part of international peacekeeping missions around the world.

In my career I happened to have the distinct privilege of being in East Timor when the Canadian Forces were there and saw the great work they were doing in rebuilding houses in a country that had been destroyed through civil conflict. I also had the privilege of serving in Afghanistan as an international human rights observer and again was able to see the Canadian Forces in the field attempting to do very positive, difficult and dangerous work there. The more the public and young people know about these kinds of contributions, the fewer problems we will have.

I also think, as I said, that the solution lies in demonstrating respect for veterans in a concrete way by governments all across the country to ensure we do not end up with veterans, who have served their country well, living in poverty, having to go to food banks and ending up homeless on our streets.

I call on the members on the other side to think very seriously about the solutions they propose when the bill gets to committee and to think about changing the solution that is in this bill to something that reflects the need for restorative justice, public education, fairness and fair treatment of our veterans rather than seeking jail sentences as a solution to this problem. I look forward to further discussion of the bill.