Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for coming, and Gary, one of our colleagues, as well.
I'm really torn on this. For myself, when I was a kid, both my parents were Legion members. They both served in the air force. My father was a Legion president in Gibsons, British Columbia, then also in Slocan, where I still have Legion membership. My mom was the ladies auxiliary president as well. When the Legions were actually being built in the small communities of Slocan and Gibsons, I saw that they were paramount for the veterans. I remember as a five-year-old and six-year-old participating in Remembrance Day but also marching. My parents taught me how to march using the drum to lead the parade. A lot of my friends, through participating, got to know what actually transpired.
For myself, I joined the RCMP when I was 22 and served in the force for over 18 years. Being in the RCMP, I would attend the Remembrance Day ceremony. My detachment commander would ask members who would want to go, and I always wanted to go. I wanted to remember my family's contributions, my grandfathers', my brother's, in serving overseas. Having lived in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, where it is delegated not as a national stat but where everyone doesn't have to go to work, I don't look at it like that at all. I look at it as a day of remembrance.
Back on July 7, 2006, as detachment commander in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, at 9:24 I faced the worst fear of any policeman's duty: a 10-33 call. It means an officer needs assistance. Shots were fired. Three of my members were shot and two passed away, right in my own detachment. Nothing is worse than having to go to a loved one's house, having to go to your neighbour's, an RCMP colleague's house, to tell them that their husband has just been shot.
So I'm really torn on this, because I look at it not as a holiday; I look at it as remembering, remembering those who fall. Whenever I give a speech, I talk about Marc Bourdages and Robin Cameron. These are the two members who fell and gave their lives trying to serve and protect Canadians in Canada. Police officers in Canada and people who wear the uniform and serve in the military know the risks. They know the challenges that face them if they do serve overseas. It's a well-known risk and everyone accepts that risk. If the Maker says it's your time to go, it's your time to go.
I'm listening to the Legion, to you, Steven, and you, Bradley, talking about the Legion. I remember as a kid going to the Legion meetings, going to the functions, going at Christmas and listening to the veterans talk about their participation overseas, going to Remembrance Days, and listening to the veterans there talk. The best knowledge we have is when the Legion opens its doors to the general public and they talk about what's going on, they talk about the challenges they faced or what they saw. It's one of the only times they ever talk, because it's their own environment. It's their own little community where they actually feel safe. They'll take a young child and bring them into a small room, and then the young child there will ask questions for everybody. I feel that at times that's probably the best way for some of the veterans actually to heal. I suffer from PTSD, but the more I talk about it the better I feel.
We talk about consultation. We talk about groups. You were talking in regard to Legions across the country. I belong to Branch 276 in Slocan, and I get a lot of mail. I get a lot of recommendations. I've never once seen any type of letter to the membership asking the membership what they feel or how they feel about a national holiday.
People say, “We stood up and we did this consultation.” Did you keep track of all the members who were asked? That's all I ask. That's probably the best way to go about it, by asking each Legion member or associate member how they feel about a national holiday. We hear about dollars and cents and how this is going to affect the economy. I don't think that's right. People put their lives in jeopardy and give up their lives to protect our country and other countries abroad. That's how I personally feel.