Veteran Week

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to join the other parties in paying tribute to the Canadian citizens who make sacrifices overseas.

I want to start by reminding us that when we wear these poppies, we are financially supporting the work of the Royal Canadian Legion. I want to publicly thank the Royal Canadian Legion for the amazing work they are doing.

They are providing much-needed assistance to our veterans in post-traumatic stress disorder assistance, they are providing housing, and they are stretching themselves to meet needs. I am deeply indebted to them for their work. I encourage people to remember to wear the poppy, and when one falls off to be sure to put more money in the box before they pick up their next one.

This is important work they are doing.

The Green Party and I are very aware of the huge sacrifice that soldiers must make to defend our Canadian values.

We have seen many generations go to war. We can think of their sacrifices, and on days like this—indeed, in weeks like this—we pay homage. However, we have, as non-combatants, the very real risk of trespassing the line between remembering and honouring the sacrifice of the fallen and glorifying war. We know that those who have served and those who have been in battle will be the last ones who would ever want us to do that.

One of my closest friends is someone who fought and served in the Second World War. Despite an age difference, I can say that I feel I am one of his contemporaries, although he is 92. Farley Mowat served in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, known as the Hasty Ps. In his book And No Birds Sang, he recounts in grim, evocative detail what it was like in the Sicily campaign. He speaks of that period and says:

I came back from the war rejecting my species. I hated what had been done to me and what I had done and what man did to man.

It is in that spirit that we should all recommit ourselves to find the way forward to peace, and in doing so, do it in the name of every son, brother, father, mother, sister, and child who has gone to war without coming back. We do it to say that we are committed to a path to peace, knowing that it is not an easy path and knowing that we do it to honour those who have sacrificed so much so that we have the liberty to try.

Peace remains a realistic dream, but we will have to work hard to achieve it.

Today, with all of us gathered on one of those days when we are truly joined in spirit and in purpose, we say, “Never again. Lest we forget.”