Mr. Speaker, colleagues: Good morning.
As you know, the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs was taken ill this past week, and he deeply regrets not being able to be in the House today for the solemn moments of Remembrance which are a characteristic of our Parliament every year at about this time.
But the Minister asked me to extend his warmest personal greetings to all MPs today – and especially to all the Veterans whom we have the collective honour and duty to represent – as I say a few words on behalf of Canada’s Minister of Veterans’ Affairs.
Across this country, millions of Canadians will soon be paying heartfelt tribute to Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members and all the brave women and men who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of Canada over our nation’s lifetime.
Nous savons que notre liberté, notre prospérité et les chances dont bénéficient nos enfants existent grâce à leurs sacrifices et leurs victoires.
One of the ways Canadians recognize this is by wearing the red poppy in remembrance of those who fell in service. Another is by participating in commemorative events from coast to coast to coast.
Canadians are also visiting the “Remember Them” web page, and engaging in social media with the #CanadaRemembers hashtag.
Some of us have had the incredibly moving experience of walking close to the footsteps of those who fought and those who died to preserve our rights and freedoms, and our open, inclusive, generous, democratic Canadian way of life.
It hits you powerfully when you walk up Vimy Ridge and touch that soaring monument, or travel to Hill 70, or into the town of Ypres and under the arches of the Menin Gate amidst all the names inscribed there of young Canadians who passed that way en route to Passchendaele a hundred years ago.
A few miles away, but a generation later, there were bitter losses for Canadians at Dieppe, 75 years ago (in August of 1942), and then our triumphant return to that same town two years later, after the landings on Juno Beach and on our way to liberate Holland.
On the other side of the world, what Canadian can stand without huge emotion at the top of the steep hill that forms Sai Wan cemetery in Hong Kong, and look down to the South China Sea across the rows of white headstones bedecked with red maple leaf flags.
The same emotion overtakes you at the Canadian Memorial Garden just below the hills northeast of Kapyong-gun, Korea.
And more recently, you can trace the footsteps of brave Canadians through Kosovo, and Afghanistan, and more than 50 other international missions since Korea. Right up to today.
Skill. Strength. Courage. Valour. Selflessness. Love of country. Loyalty to comrades. Faithfulness. Service. And sacrifice. These are the qualities that Canadians in uniform have epitomized.
Et cette année, nous nous souvenons surtout du Corps canadien en Europe en 1917 (mille-neuf-cent-dix-sept).
Ils ont fait face à des difficultés incroyables et ont subi des dizaines de milliers de pertes sur le front occidental, mais ils ont émergé comme une force d’élite, victorieuse où les autres ont échoué.
And this year, we especially remember the Canadian Corps in Europe in 1917. They faced unimaginable hardships and incurred tens of thousands of losses on the Western Front, but emerged as an elite force, victorious where others could not.
Tomorrow, November 10th, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Passchendaele. In the ceremony of remembrance in Belgium, a torchlight procession will go from the Canadian Memorial to the Passchendaele Church.
Notre collègue, le Secrétaire parlementaire des Anciens Combattants, y est déjà. The Minister of National Defence will be there tomorrow with a Canadian Armed Forces contingent from the same units as fought in that horrific battle, regimental representatives, the RCMP, plus actual Veterans, youth, Indigenous people and the band of the Royal 22nd Regiment, the famous VanDoos.
Notre gouvernement est déterminé à rendre hommage à nos hommes et femmes en uniforme, de chaque époque et de chaque génération. That is why we were proud to sponsor the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto – for injured, ill and wounded military members and Veterans. Prince Harry was there. And the Prime Minister. And the former President and Vice-President of the United States. And the incumbent First Lady. And thousands of Canadians in the stands to cheer on the Vets.
These Games demonstrated how far the dedication of these wounded warriors truly goes. Yes, they gained something from the competition and camaraderie. But we all gained so much more from their inspiration – to persevere in the face of daunting obstacles.
Honouring our women and men in uniform is a privilege.
Nous encourageons tous les Canadiens à se souvenir et à exprimer leur reconnaissance et leur appréciation pour les Vétérans, ceux qui sont décédés, et ceux qui continuent de servir.
Think of Canada’s Veterans and all those who gave their lives in service. Think of the current members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Think of men and women from every region of the country, every walk of life, every ethnic and cultural and religious background, from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, Francophones and Anglophones. THINK of all those who have put service before self.
And THANK a Veteran or a Canadian Armed Forces member when you see them. Ask about their stories and listen carefully to what they say.
Most important, join the country for two minutes of silence at 11 o’clock on November 11th to honour the memory of all who have served.
Le plus important, joignez-vous à tout le pays pour deux minutes de silence à onze (11) heures le onze novembre pour honorer la mémoire de tous ceux qui ont servi.
On Remembrance Day, I will be in the hockey arena in Regina with the Royal Canadian Legion. The stands will be filled. Soldiers, sailors, air personnel, Cadets, Mounties, other peace and police officers, and community groups will march in formation. Bands will play. Speeches will be given. Prayers will be offered. Wreaths will be laid. The act of remembrance will be performed.
And then, the Veterans will parade across the arena floor. Some in wheel chairs. Some with canes. Some on their own. And the entire place will rise. And the applause will be loud and long, following their every step. Saying thank you to real life heroes, and to those who did not come home…
“They shall grow NOT old, as we who are left grow old,
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
Parce que le Canada se souvient!
Lest we forget!