Mr. Jack Whittaker (Okanagan -Similkameen-Merritt):
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to add my voice and that of my party, the New Democratic Party, to those who have already spoken. I congratulate the hon. member for Mississauga East for putting forward this motion. It reads:
That this House recognize the professionalism, personal sacrifice
and dedication shown by members of Canada's many police forces in
the course of carrying our their duties in the service of Canadians.
I would like to bring a different perspective than what we have already heard here today, the perspective of one who lives in a more rural setting and who has worked with the police over the past 20 years, both as a prosecutor and as a defence counsel.
My dealings with the police have shown that they must be not just police officers but they must be social workers, counsellors, life savers, medical people, coaches and public relations people within the community. All of these things are part of the everyday life of police.
In the province of British Columbia the rural areas are policed for the most part by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a police force that I would suggest all Canadians are very proud of, whether it be ceremonially, for the work they do within the communities or for their reputation internationally as perhaps one of the leading police forces in Canada.
Others have spoken about the police forces in specific cities or in specific provinces. I take nothing at all away
Private Members' Business
from the work that they do, but I want to emphasize, as a person who has worked for, worked with and socialized with police officers, that I have grown to respect not only the fact that they put their lives on the line many times in their police work, but the fact that they get involved in their communities and that often they must put their duties ahead of their own personal family lives.
In recognizing the dedication and personal sacrifice I specifically talk about some of the problems that police in small communities have in being transferred out every few years as is the policy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the fact that they often spend long hours. In some of the work they have to do they become very jaded by getting too close to some things, whether it be in undercover drug work or in the motorcycle squad that followed the motorcycle gangs around for years. They have difficulty in all of their undercover work in not being able to pay adequate attention to their own families and personal lives. That great personal sacrifice of these people often leads to separation and ultimately divorce and separated families.
I think of the number of people within this House who know the sacrifices that they make in being away from their families and going about their duties as members of Parliament. Similarly those sacrifices are made by members of our police forces in the hard work that they do for our communities.
In talking about police officers as medical officers I know that in many cases police officers are called to scenes of accidents which are not pretty sights. They are often the first on the scene after whoever originally called in the call, or discover people who are clinging to the last remnants of life. It is their duty to go in and try to assist, sometimes in very unpleasant circumstances with the blood and the screaming of those left. They are trained to deal with that in everyday life.
I recall just recently a young woman constable in British Columbia was given a special award for being on the scene when a gentleman had an attack and his heart quit. This young woman had just taken a course in CPR two or three weeks previous. She used her training to bring him back. He is healthy again, I am pleased to say. The young woman constable has been recognized not just for doing what she saw as her duty, but having done
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it in a timely and professional fashion as I think we have all come to expect of these police officers.
I think of a number of gruesome cases that I participated in as both prosecutor and defence in murder trials, sexual assault trials and double murder suicides where the police officers were the ones who had to go in and deal with the traumatic scenes in front of them, in a professional manner and take their notes. However, that was not all.
Once they had done that it was often up to the police officer to act as priest, family counsellor or social worker in going to the families of those deceased to tell them in a compassionate manner that someone they loved and cherished was no longer with them. They had met an untimely death, whether through an accident, due to drinking and driving, someone else's fault, or whether they were a victim of a murder or an assault or whatever.
I have come to respect not just the training of our many police forces and police officers but the personal commitment they bring to their job. They bring commitment to their communities whether it is coaching a ball team, a minor hockey team, participating in local sports or getting involved in the community. They are not only part of the community, they are often the very pulse of the community.
I am proud to have been associated with the police. I know they work hard and I am very pleased to be able to add my voice to those speaking on this motion today.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic: POLICE FORCES