Mr. Speaker, on May 3, on behalf of the women and men who serve their country in uniform as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, I asked the Prime Minister a question. I asked him how many more times the Minister of National Defence has to mislead Canadians before the Prime Minister will force him to resign. The response I received on behalf of our women and men in uniform was an insult to the service they provide to our country. It is time for the Prime Minister to understand that Canadians expect him to do more than just show up for question period one day a week and endlessly repeat mindless talking points prepared for him by his handler, Gerald Butts—the same mindless talking points, I might add, that I should not have to expect to hear during this adjournment debate.
I challenge the Prime Minister's unethical support for a member of his party who misled voters in the 2015 election concerning his service record and who continues to mislead Canadians by repeating false claims when he thinks he can get away with doing so.
Having grossly inflated his role in one of the largest Canadian military operations in recent history, the Minister of National Defence should have resigned. After he failed to do the honourable thing and fall on his sword, the Prime Minister should have fired him.
The Minister of National Defence has lost the confidence of the women and men he was appointed to serve. The Prime Minister, by refusing to fire the Minister of National Defence, has lost the confidence of our NATO allies. Defence expenditures are now at their lowest level since the end of the last great war.
These are the facts.
As the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I have Garrison Petawawa in my riding. Petawawa is home to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. During operation Medusa, in the war in Afghanistan, it was the Royal Canadian Regiment that bore the brunt of the fighting. Members of 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment were honoured with the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation, which is only awarded for extraordinary deeds or activities restricted to war or warlike conditions in an active theatre of operations.
Out in the field during operation Medusa, the battle group was commanded by then major general Omer Lavoie, the commander of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment.
The Canadian component of his force comprised the 1RCR, a complement of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, medics from 2 Field Ambulance, all from Petawawa, and various support staff in undetermined roles, including the self-proclaimed architect of the operation, a reservist with no military training, with an assigned rank, for a total of about 1,050 Canadians.
What is known for sure is that five soldiers in that fight received Canada's third highest award for bravery, the Medal of Military Valour, while another, Corporal Sean Teal, received the Star of Military Valour, Canada's second highest award, just beneath the Victoria Cross. One other soldier was mentioned in the dispatches.
This is how the Minister of National Defence chose to inaccurately describe his role in operation Medusa: “On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was...the architect of...Operation Medusa where we removed...1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield. And I was [proudly] on the main assault...”.
Much has been written about this effort to take credit for whatever minor role the minister may or may not have played; however, what is particularly outrageous for the soldiers doing the actual fighting was the claim by the Minister of National Defence to being on the main assault.
Claiming to be on the main assault is an insult to every member of Charles Company, 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Charles Company of 1RCR is the most decorated, most bloodied company in the serving Canadian Forces. They earned their reputation by being on the main assault.