Madam Speaker, we are here today in the seat of Canadian democracy, a place of free, safe and peaceful debate thanks to honourable men and women who have maintained peace and security during troubled times. Even as we speak, Canadian Forces personnel are keeping us safe across the country and around the world.
At this very moment, Canadian Armed Forces personnel are deployed far from their country, their loved ones and their homes. They are defending our nation's values of freedom and democracy. Some have been assigned dangerous missions, while others are providing desperately needed help to extremely vulnerable people. While many are maintaining peace and order, others are in training at locations all over Canada.
We have every reason to be proud of their work. I think it is safe to say that Canadians are proud of our Canadian Armed Forces. People in my riding, Richmond—Arthabaska, feel a deep sense of connection to members of our Royal Canadian Legion branches in places like Victoriaville, Richmond and Danville. We have tremendous respect for them, and I know they give so much back to the community.
All of this brings the following question to mind: why are we so proud of our soldiers and veterans in Canada? The answer is simple: because they look out for us, following a strict code of honour and showing dedication and loyalty at all times, while risking their own lives. They are proud to wear the maple leaf on their uniform everywhere in the globe, because the rights and freedoms we have in Canada are the envy of the world.
Although we may not personally know these men and women in uniform, we do know that we can count on them. This bond of trust is strong and genuine. In return, we have a duty to recognize our soldiers and veterans. The government must treat them and their families with respect and dignity. The government must provide them with support and assistance as long as they behave honourably.
Honour is very important, especially to those who serve or have served Canada. A single dishonourable act is justification for a soldier, veteran or family member to lose those privileges. Imagine, then, how our soldiers and former military personnel must feel when they hear this terrible story.
Please allow me to tell it.
In September 2015, in Halifax, Christopher Garnier, a 30-year-old civilian, cravenly took the life of Catherine Campbell of Truro, Nova Scotia. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison. Christopher Garnier never served a day in the Canadian Armed Forces. An expert at trial testified that Garnier developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of having strangled Ms. Campbell, put her body in a compost bin, and dumped her under a bridge.
However, as the son of a veteran, he qualified for support from Veterans Affairs Canada, which is still paying for his treatment for PTSD caused by the murder he committed. While behind bars, he is receiving treatment from a private psychologist funded through benefits intended for Canadian veterans, despite never having served our country. However, he would have access to similar support through the existing Canadian justice system.
The government is taking funds intended for our soldiers and veterans and using them to support a murderer. The family is outraged. Veterans are appalled. While some veterans are being forced to fight their government to access the services they are entitled to, a criminal is exploiting the system and the government is looking the other way.
Despite this atrocity, the Liberal government continues to support him financially. There is only one way out of this mess: immediately stop paying for this criminal's treatment under the veterans program.
The government must stop helping this murderer with money that is intended for our country's truly honourable men and women. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Veterans Affairs unfortunately do not want to talk about this case. They claim that the opposition should not be bringing up this issue in this political arena. On the contrary, I would say that it is our duty to talk about this tragedy in this chamber. It is a matter of respect, principle and honour.
We must break the silence in honour of the victim, her family, our men and women in uniform, and our veterans, who have been enraged by the government's decision. This is the opposition's role. We must denounce this foolish policy, which is yet another dismal Liberal failure, on top of all of their other failures. This is not the first time that the Prime Minister has treated our soldiers, our veterans, and their families unfairly. The current government broke its promise to no longer go to court against our soldiers and veterans. This government has spent millions of dollars in legal fees so far fighting them in court.
Members will recall that veteran in Alberta, whom the Prime Minister ridiculed at a town hall meeting when he said that veterans are asking for more than the government is able to give. This is the same government that did not hesitate to pay millions of dollars to Omar Khadr. This is the same government that has a policy to reintegrate Canadians who renounced our country to join ISIS. These traitors fought against our own Canadian soldiers. For what reason? What is the idea behind the Liberals' reintegration policy? Is the government truly weighing the risks and consequences of its actions?
What are we to make of the $200 million in the Minister of Veterans Affairs' budget, for just last year, which is still sitting in the government's coffers, instead of being used to support our veterans? So many questions, so few answers.
The Conservatives never hesitated to act swiftly on cases like this. In 2010, when we found out that serial killer Clifford Olson was getting old age security, we immediately took steps to end the payments. When we asked the Prime Minister whether he believed that a criminal found guilty of killing a police officer should be getting benefits from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Prime Minister did not answer. The Minister of Veterans Affairs has the authority and the power to cut off payments to this murderer, who is not a veteran, but he is using privacy as an excuse. He does not want to share any information. For the record, the opposition is not asking for information. All we want is action.
The Prime Minister and his government would do well to learn from our soldiers and veterans instead of attacking them. They could learn from veterans' loyalty, respect, discipline, devotion and, above all, their code of honour. Those who serve Canada honourably deserve better. The Campbell family deserves better. Canadians deserve better. This government has to right this wrong immediately. Enough with this scandalous injustice.
The Conservatives are calling on the Minister of Veterans Affairs to intervene, to stand up and address this outrageous injustice. If he does not, then we will, when we return to power in 2019.