Mr. Speaker, we have debated the important issue of veterans all day. The hon. members for Sackville—Eastern Shore and Québec began the debate this morning. Evening has come and no one on the government side has clearly said whether the government will support our motion, which is designed to prevent cuts to services for veterans.
Mr. Speaker, I will go through you to ask these questions of all the members on the government side. Why are they so reluctant to support a motion that is just common sense? Why are they taking so long to clearly state that they fully support the motion, which requests that the same level of services for veterans be maintained in the budget? This is a legitimate question that must be asked. Why have they not answered? We have been debating this issue for eight hours and we have not received an answer.
On this side of the House, we are concerned. It is certain that veterans' families are concerned. People in veterans' hospitals, in families and in homes where veterans live are all surprised at the government's lack of clarity.
The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore asked some questions in the House today. I am tempted to ask the Conservatives whether or not they support veterans. It is a legitimate question to which we still have not had an answer and that is quite worrisome.
It is not just the NDP that supports veterans. All the veterans organizations around the country, like the Royal Canadian Legion, to which a number of NDP MPs and I belong, fully support this motion and this debate today to support veterans. The union of veterans' affairs employees and the veterans ombudsman also support this motion.
Why is the Conservative government not prepared to support this motion after eight hours of debate? All they have to do is stand up and say they agree with the NDP that the services provided to veterans need to be protected.
Quotes were read earlier and I will also read one in these few minutes I have to devote to veterans. Patricia Varga, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, said:
It is time that our federal leadership owned up to the moral debt they owe to the veterans and their families. They can do that by saying cut if you can but do not touch programs or operations that have any effect on Canada’s veterans.
Guy Parent, the veterans ombudsman, said roughly the same thing. He said that if the United States and the United Kingdom can exempt veterans' programs, Canada should do the same. He added that either the Conservatives should do the same thing or they should ensure that cuts are kept to a minimum.
It is very clear. There is consensus throughout the country, among the people watching today, in the NDP, and among all veterans' organizations. We must ask the following question: do the Conservatives support veterans or not? It is a fairly simple question.
I want to continue talking about the incredible moral debt Canadians owe to our veterans.
I grew up in a family that sent two individuals off to the second world war. My grandfather and my uncle are placed at the monument in front of New Westminster City Hall in my community of New Westminster. They both gave their lives for their country. As with so many Canadians, we feel deeply and profoundly about the debt that we owe the veterans who came back.
As the House well knows, war comes with huge physical, mental, often psychological consequences to our veterans. One cannot go to those kinds of situations and come back unscarred. These brave men and women who have served overseas in the second world war, in the Korean conflict, in multiple peacekeeping operations that Canada has undertaken or in Afghanistan deserve only the best that Canada has to offer. They put their lives on the line. Many of them gave their lives. Those who come back are entitled to the full support of our nation. That is why we find it so perplexing that after seven hours of debate here in the House today the Conservative government has not even signalled yet whether it is going to support the motion or not.
Every year on Remembrance Day I go before the New Westminster cenotaph--