Mr. Speaker, the great ice storm of 1998 affected millions of Canadians in eastern Ontario and Quebec. For many of us it was an inconvenience that demonstrated how greatly we rely on electricity just to function in our homes. For others it meant real hardship and, tragically, in some cases death.
Any time human beings are faced with a major crisis we learn something about ourselves. As someone who witnessed firsthand the reaction of people in the communities of my riding of Lanark—Carleton, I can assure everyone that Canadians do care about their neighbours.
While images of devastation will remain with me, I will, more important, remember the selfless actions of people who rallied to help those whose health, property and even lives were threatened.
Before the Canadian armed forces arrived and before we knew the extent of the emergency, volunteer firefighters in every community, on their own initiative, swung into action.
Mayors, reeves and councillors from each municipality reacted swiftly.
The devastated townships around Carleton Place, Smiths Falls and Perth will long remember how those small towns came to their aid.
We all owe a great debt to the soldiers—over 800 in Lanark County alone—who demonstrated why Canadians can be justly proud of our armed forces.
It will take years before the physical damage caused by the storm is repaired.