Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
After listening to my Liberal colleagues for half an hour, I think it is important to reread today's opposition motion because we have heard more about what soldiers will receive, and especially not receive, from the Liberals than we have about today's opposition motion. The motion moved by my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman reads as follows:
That the House has lost confidence in the Minister of National Defence's ability to carry out his responsibilities on behalf of the government since, on multiple occasions the Minister misrepresented his military service and provided misleading information to the House.
I want to echo the sentiments of all my colleagues who have thanked Canadian Armed Forces members for helping the people of Gatineau and throughout Quebec who are dealing with unbelievably terrible flooding.
Today, May 8, 2017, we are celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Hitler's Germany. It is known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day. I want to talk about a man who played an important role in that victory. His name is Paul Triquet. He received the Victoria Cross, one of the highest honours in the hierarchy of military medals.
Paul Triquet was from Cabano, a municipality in the riding of Témiscouata, in the Lower St. Lawrence region. He was a Second World War hero who served his country with the Royal 22nd Regiment, among others. He rose through the ranks of the Canadian army and ended his distinguished career as a brigadier general.
He took part in the Italian campaign as a captain in his regiment. He particularly distinguished himself in the attack on Casa Berardi on December 14, 1943. For all he did, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in the British army and the Commonwealth. He was also awarded the Legion of Honour, and was the only French Canadian to win the Victoria Cross during the Italian campaign.
Paul Triquet is a hero of the Second World War. His remarks were published in the Bulletin d'histoire politique published by the Association québécoise d'histoire politique. Here is how he described his military career: “By awarding me this decoration, I think the King wanted to recognize the merit of the Canadians in general, and not just one individual.”
That is how a leader in the Canadian Armed Forces behaves. A leader who was awarded this highest honour did not even take credit for that distinction. Instead, he wanted to share the honour with all Canadians who served their country.
I would like to quote another illustrious Second World War figure. After announcing to the world the end of hostilities on the European continent on the BBC, Winston Churchill made two speeches on May 8, 1945 before the crowd in Whitehall Road, in London, celebrating the allied victory over Nazi Germany.
God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It is a victory of the great British nation as a whole.
Did Winston Churchill, who definitely was one of the architects of the allied victory in the Second World War, take credit for it? No, because a leader does not do that. A leader will give credit for the success of military campaigns to his men, to the men and women who fought for him.
I purposely gave the example of a military man and an elected official because, during a war, elected officials and military forces must trust one another, and this is true in all countries. When an elected official manages the military, this relationship of trust is even more important.
We are here today not to discuss the military past of the Minister of National Defence, but to speak about his role as minister. We want to talk about what he said he did when he was a member of the military. Instead of giving credit to his men, to all the men and women who were there with him, this minister made a choice.
The minister chose to take all the credit for a great Canadian victory in Afghanistan. It seems that he did it twice. The first time was when he was seeking election. He was just getting involved in politics and he realized that he might be able to win a few more votes and even get a spot in cabinet if he took credit for a victory that was not necessarily his own. The second time was when he was minister. That is unacceptable for someone who served in the Canadian Armed Forces and who is now the minister responsible for those same armed forces.
I believe that this is more than just a mistake on the part of the Minister of National Defence. The minister betrayed the trust of the men and women who are currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. He betrayed the bond of trust that must unite them with the elected officials responsible for leading them. These elected officials are the ones who are responsible for leading and deciding what tools are needed. They are responsible for deciding what operations our armed forces participate in and making sure they have the right equipment. Unfortunately, if the members of our armed forces no longer trust their minister, the relationship of trust is beyond repair.
I have here a copy of The DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics. It may seem that the code is only for members of the military, but that is not the case. Both members of the Canadian Armed Forces and employees of the Department of National Defence are asked to adhere to the same code, since they do business with each other.
Why? Because we know that one day we may have to defend the same issues before the same forum. We must understand one another. If we want our men and women in uniform to adhere to a certain standard within the forces, we must lead by example. The DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics, which I have here, covers this situation.
First of all, the Deputy Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff statement reads as follows:
Canadians rightfully expect the highest ethical behaviour from the people entrusted with the task of ensuring their defence.
Is falsely taking credit for a military operation an example of the highest ethical behaviour?
Chapter 1 on ethics talks about the role of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. It talks about the role of ministers, in particular:
Ministers are also responsible for preserving public trust and confidence in the integrity of management and operations of public sector organizations and for respecting the tradition of a professional non-partisan federal public sector, which includes DND, and of the CF. Furthermore, Ministers play a critical role in the ability of DND employees and CF members to provide professional and frank advice.
Once again, the minister should be leading by example. Unfortunately, on at least two separate occasions, including one very specific case where he had to wear two hats, the minister has failed to do this.
When it comes to specific values and expected behaviours of people in the department and in the forces, it says:
DND employees and CF members shall serve the public interest by adhering to the highest ethical standards, communicating and acting with honesty, and avoiding deception.
In the section “Duties and Obligations”, it says:
CF members who are also in a leadership role have a particular responsibility to exemplify the military values of the Canadian Forces and the common values and expected obligations of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics.
In closing, I want to quote an article by Denis Ferland in Le Devoir of May 3, “Exaggeration, distortion, fiction, boasting, or outright lying?”.
I think that the Prime Minister has to do something about this because it is abundantly clear that the Minister of National Defence is not going to. It is time for him to do the right thing and for the Minister of National Defence to step down in order for this broken bond of trust to be restored.