[attach]2873[/attach]November is when we pause to remember those who havefought for us in past and present wars; those who are still doing so inAfghanistan and in peace missions in other parts of the world; thosewho have come home, but injured in body and spirit; and those who havemade the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives.
It is a time to say thank you, to remember, and in the spirit of thanksand remembrance, to reflect on how we can best promote peace instead ofwar.
I am very proud of my family’s military history. My grandfather (fromWillowdale) was a pilot in WWI, flying with Billy Bishop against thefamous Red Baron.
One of my uncles (also from Willowdale) was a pilot in WWII, but,sadly, he was shot down and killed, and never came home to his family. Another uncle (also from Willowdale) was a pilot with the naval airforce.
He made the navy his career, ultimately commanding a destroyer (theHMCS Qu’Appelle). My own father landed on D-Day. He was the firstAllied soldier in Caen. He won the Military Cross for his work inlaying and keeping open the signal lines under fire, and went on tohelp liberate Holland.
I am able to tell you this story because he was one of the lucky oneswho was able to come home and build a family—of which I am one.
I myself was able to “join the Navy” this summer, as part of a programoffered by the Armed Forces to Members of Parliament. For five days, Iwas welcomed as ‘part of the crew’ of the frigate HMCS St. John’s.
It was an extraordinary experience, and I learned so much about theincredible teamwork necessary for the survival of a ship at sea. (Onenight was so rough we had to use our “bunk belts” to keep from rollingout of bed!)
I am very proud of my family’s contributions. I am very proud of thefact that, when called upon to help internationally, Canada andCanadians have not only stepped up to the challenge, they have punchedfar above their weight and earned worldwide respect.
Unfortunately, our veterans have not been treated well enough. I, asthe MP for Willowdale, along with many of my colleagues, are calling onthe Harper government to properly honour our veterans, our military,and their families on all days of the year by (i) conducting anextensive review of the New Veterans’ Charter with real consultationwith veterans across the country; (ii) immediately correcting theproblems with the lump-sum payment system for injured veteransreturning from service; (iii) clarifying whether the new benefits forseriously injured veterans will be retroactive to 2006; and (iv)helping the growing number of veterans suffering from Post TraumaticStress Disorder.
We must ensure that veterans, who have given so much, are given thesupport, and treated with the respect, that they deserve. I also wantus to do all we can, as a country, to promote peace, not war.
We have a long tradition in this country, from Lester Pearson’s workcreating UN Peacekeeping efforts, to Canada’s role in the anti-landmines treaty, to Jean Chretien’s refusal to send Canadian troops toinvade Iraq, to the promotion by Michael Ignatieff of theResponsibility to Protect doctrine at the United Nations.
These efforts are not perfect. The United Nations itself has flaws. But Canada can either sit back and refuse to help, or we can step up,once again, to the challenge of ensuring a multilateral approach toachieving world peace.
I choose to have Canada step up to make the world a better place.