Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, I will not take much time. I would be remiss if I did not put some comments on the record.
I have listened with interest to not only what my colleagues have said, but also to the questions or comments coming from across the floor. I think Canadians need to understand that Bill C-37 is just one small attempt to rectify one small problem in a very large issue; that is the government's lack of support for the Canadian military.
This is not something new. I think if Canadians put their minds back to Liberal governments over the past, it has been a consistent ploy of Liberal governments, present and past, to undermine and underfund the Canadian military. It seems to me it was a Liberal cabinet minister who at one time thought he would put all the divisions of the military under one umbrella and take away the pride in being navy, air force or army. That did not bode well.
The problem in the past with the Liberal government is that it does it without any kind of understanding of what the armed forces are, any debate with Canadians as to what Canadians want and it does it for political purposes, not for logical and reasonable purposes.
Decisions that have made with the present Liberal government have only shown that things have not changed and are not likely to change.
I come from a constituency in British Columbia, the province which is most likely to have an earthquake. It is the province that had forest fires during the summer because of our large forested areas, and it suffers from these fires. B.C. has mountains and rivers and is often subject to floods. There is a real need, not only in British Columbia, but in Quebec, in Atlantic Canada and in Canada's north for a strong military support for domestic reasons. It does not always have to be international concerns. However for domestic concerns and events, it would be a great thing to have a strong military presence.
The land forces base in the lower mainland was closed, not for logical reasons but for political reasons. I talked with a gentleman who sat on the committee when it was reviewing the military bases across Canada. He told me that Chilliwack was not even on the list. It was not even recommended that it be closed. However that decision was made between Quebec City and Ottawa. It was a political decision, with no logical background. That is reality.
The Liberal government may be concerned that Canadians will find out why these decisions were made. However, the point is the Chilliwack base was closed. If there were a major earthquake, the airport would not be usable because it happens to be in a part of Richmond that would probably be soup, if it existed at all. How in heaven's name is any military presence going to get to where it is most needed?
I want to suggest that it is time for the next government to really focuses on what Canadians want from their military. Canadians do want our Canadian military to do a peacekeeping role, but they want much more than that.
Canadians want our Canadian military to provide protection for their own country. They want the Canadian military to have the resources to provide domestic responses. I would suggest that Canadians would like to see our military be a place where our young people could find not only employment, but service to their country. As a result of finding service to their country, of giving some of themselves to Canada, in return they would get training which they could use when they left the military.
The federal government should be doing something to help our young people with education. It should not be giving away millions and millions of dollars for an elite few. It should be providing a training ground for many young people who cannot get into the university system. That is a role the Canadian government can play and should play through our military resources.
I am another voice that says the government has neglected our Canadian military. When it wants to cut its budget, where is the first place it goes? It is increasing rents to our military personnel who are serving their country. It is reducing the budget for materials and training that they need. The Canadian military is the first place the Liberal government goes to cut its budget; that and health care. It is time for Canadians to stand up and indicate that this is not good enough and is not acceptable.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Canadian Forces Superannuation Act