Our military veterans deserve the utmost respect for their service to our country and the sacrifices they have made in protecting the freedom and democracy we hold so dear.
In Foothills, we have 10 branches of the Royal Canadian. These facilities not only offer critical support to our veterans, but are dedicated organizations who selflessly contribute to our rural communities.
As a proud member of the Okotoks Branch 291 I regularly visit with our veterans and I have always respected their call to duty.
However, my outlook changed earlier this fall when I visited the Vimy Ridge Memorial in northern France. Words are difficult to find, but emotional is how I can best describe feeling when I saw the Vimy Ridge Memorial for the first time.
Seeing the memorial, the renowned figure of Canada Bereft, her head bowed in sorrow representing a young nation grieving her dead, was simply awe-inspiring. Her striking, solemn face clearly remembers the horrors the men and women endured there and those memories remain painful.
When I reached the front of the memorial to look at the names of the Canadians who were killed in action, I better understood her remorse. There, upon the wall, the name “Barlow” was carved in memorial several times over. Slowly, I rubbed my hand over each of their names, hoping for a glimpse into who these men were. Where did they come from? Did they have a family? Did they die alone?
I will never know the answers, but they are now irrevocably connected to me and my community here in Alberta. They are part of my family.
There are families across Canada that share similar stories.
This experience had a profound impact on me as a clear reminder why our men and women in uniform, past and present, have the full support of Canadians.
Another fact became crystal clear, our veterans, who have given so much, should not be forced to fight the Canadian government.
Justin Trudeau promised Canadians if they voted for him he would re-establish lifelong pensions for injured veterans. He broke that promise. Trudeau also promised veterans they would never be forced to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned. He broke that promise. Trudeau also promised to make it easier for veterans to access services. Another broken promise.
Under the Liberals, the number of veterans waiting for disability benefits has increased to more than 29,000 and they are losing their case managers because of Liberal policy changes. The Liberals have shown they cannot be trusted to address issues affecting veterans, nor do they intend to honour the promises they made to veterans during the 2015 election campaign.
Our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces choose to put their lives on the line every day in service to our country. Sadly, many have made the ultimate sacrifice. Yet the Liberals continue to take from veteran funding and programing to pay for frivolous trips and wasteful spending.
During a town hall meeting in Edmonton a few weeks ago, Justin Trudeau told a former soldier, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, veterans are asking for more than his government is prepared to give right now.
The Liberals found more than $10 million to pay off a convicted terrorist, but do not have any money to support our veterans? They can spend $100,000 a year for staff to run the Health Minister’s twitter account, or $8.1 million on a temporary skating rink on Parliament Hill, but have nothing more to give to veterans who have put their lives on the line to protect the most vulnerable here and around the world?
Our veterans deserve better than this. Canadians deserve better than this. Conservatives will continue to fight for the support and respect for our veterans – they have earned it.