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Results: 1 - 15 of 112
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-13 14:13 [p.20021]
Mr. Speaker, 80 years ago today, the village of Kalavryta in Greece fell victim to the cruelty of occupying German Nazi forces in World War II.
On December 13, 1943, the Nazis rounded up all males over the age of 12 for execution. They locked women and children in the village's school and lit it on fire, aiming to burn them alive. The women broke down the doors to find, sadly, their husbands and sons dead and their village in ashes. The widows were left to rebuild shattered lives. They displayed immense courage and determination as they worked to provide for their families and preserve their community.
The women of Kalavryta demonstrated the power of the human spirit in adversity and testified to the indomitable strength of women. Euthymia Vaya was the last widow of the massacre. She passed away in 2008, having immigrated to Canada with her daughter Georgia. Her courage and resilience allowed her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to thrive as proud Canadians.
As we reflect on this dark chapter in history, let us honour their memory. May the victims of the massacre of Kalavryta rest in peace.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 10:30 [p.19444]
Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's speech. I sit on the committee as well. I share many of the concerns that he has raised here today.
In particular, there are two things. First of all, this is such an important monument for those who served in Afghanistan, and it is being delayed by the bungling of the government and, most important, the fact that the PMO has gotten involved and interfered in this situation. The member indicated that in his speech.
What are his thoughts and feelings around the fact that the PMO interfered and is, therefore, delaying the building of this monument? Could he indicate why the PMO interfered in this matter inappropriately?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:08 [p.19449]
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member about two things.
First, if the Liberal government truly believes the words that he is saying, that it cares so much about trying to ensure veterans are honoured and appreciated, why did it take it eight years just to announce a design of a monument?
Most particularly, when the jury made a decision in November 2021, it took from then until June 2023 to announce it. In between, there is all sorts of evidence of the Prime Minister's office interfering in the process to change the decision. No one knows why the government wanted to change that decision.
Maybe the member could shed some light for us today on exactly why the government spent eight years on this, with a year and a half of the Prime Minister interfering and showing such disrespect for our veterans? Why did the PMO interfere and show so much disrespect for our veterans?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:12 [p.19449]
Madam Speaker, first, let me inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
The current Prime Minister has infamously said “they're asking for more than we can give” when referring to our veterans. This has been a source of great consternation for veterans ever since that time. The government has shown that disrespect in so many other ways, but that comment sums up exactly how the Prime Minister feels about our veterans, their sacrifices and their service.
The issue we are talking about today is just another example of that absolute disrespect from the government and from the Prime Minister to our veterans and to the families of those who have served.
Let us think about the delays with this monument. The government took eight years just to announce a design for a monument to those who served in Afghanistan. Not only did it take eight years to do that, but it bungled it so badly that now nobody knows when this thing will ever be built.
A design firm was chosen to build this monument by the jury the government selected and with the process the government set-up. That was decided in November of 2021. In the next year and a half, up to June of 2023, the government spent all of that time trying to figure out how to disregard the decision of that jury. No one knows why it wants to do that. Is this another typical act of the Liberals trying to find a way to award to their friends or is this something else? No one knows.
What we do know is that the Prime Minister's Office interfered in that process in that year and a half. There is all sorts of evidence that this occurred. Nobody in the government will answer to that. The Liberals will not explain the reasons for this. They claim there was this survey and that they heard from veterans. It has been already indicated in the House that there is no way to verify it was actually veterans they were hearing from.
Most important, in the original talking points of the government about this, when it was planning to announce it back in 2021, it said why it was important to follow the jury's decision above that of this survey. Now it is using this survey as the reason for it, so everyone knows that is not the truth. That is not reason it is not proceeding with the monument originally chosen by the jury. No one knows why, but we do know the Prime Minister's Office interfered and, therefore, has disrespected all those who served our country during the Afghanistan mission.
The government has disrespected and dishonoured the memory of the 158 Canadians who laid down their lives. It has disrespected the families of the fallen and all those who serve our country by delaying this monument for that period of time, by putting this cloud over it and by leaving us in a situation where no one knows when the heck this thing will ever be built. Those who served our country in Afghanistan deserve that monument, they deserve it now and they deserve better than what they are getting from the government.
I will speak again to the timeline. The government spent the period of time from when it was elected in 2015 until November of 2021 to have this process it set-up arrive at a decision. That process arrived at a decision in November of 2021. In the next year and a half, with all sorts of interference from the Prime Minister's Office, the government fumbled around and tripped over itself to try to figure out a way to change the decision of that jury.
As was mentioned by the Bloc member who brought forward the concurrence motion today, this is something that has never been done before. Not only has it never been done before in Canada, but there is no precedent anywhere in the world for this sort of thing, for when these types of jury processes are set up. This is the first time, that anyone can speak to, that this jury process has ever been disregarded like this, and nobody knows why, except for the Prime Minister and probably a few other people.
Obviously we cannot refer to the presence or absence of members in the House, but there is one person who could have stood up when the Liberal member got up to give a speech today, and that is the former minister of veterans affairs, the current Minister of Agriculture. I cannot refer to whether or not he was present, but he could have stood up and he could have clarified the situation.
I am sure he was told what to do by the Prime Minister's Office. He could have told us why the Prime Minister's Office told him that he needed to disregard the jury process and mire this project in such controversy that now no one knows when the heck it will ever be built. He could have stood up and clarified that for us, but, no; instead, the Liberal parliamentary secretary who always stands up stood up and spouted out a bunch of drivel. He did not speak to what happened and why it happened. He gave us the typical talking point that we have heard and the justification that we all know is false and we all know is not the truth. That is all we got from that member.
We could have had clarification on what exactly happened. Maybe there was a good reason, but if there were, we would think that in the last two years somebody from the government would have provided that justification.
We can only assume that the Liberals' reasons are not something they want to divulge to Canadians, which would mean that there is something fishy going on here, and that is at the expense of our veterans. That is at the expense of the 158 Canadians who gave their lives in Afghanistan. That is at the expense of their families who mourn them and grieve. Let us imagine what they must feel like to be witnessing what the government is doing.
The least that anyone who serves this country could expect to have is a monument to the mission that they served in, a monument to the lives that were given in service to this country. That is the very least that anyone could expect, and the government is not even willing to provide that without involving some kind of political interference and delaying this project for who knows how long. The Liberals cannot even answer as to when the monument will be built because of the controversy that has now been created.
One would have hoped that today might be the day when the government realized the error of its ways. The government members were given the opportunity today, through this motion, to stand up and clarify the situation. The former minister of veterans affairs could have stood up in his place and told us what happened. Maybe even better, he have stood up and told us that the Liberals were wrong, that they will do better, that they will do right by our veterans, that they will do right by those 158 Canadians who gave their lives, that they will do right by their families who were left behind to mourn them. Did we get any of that? No, we certainly did not, far from it, in fact. What we got instead was more disrespect for those veterans, more disrespect for the families and more disrespect for those who serve this country.
It is shameful. It is absolutely shameful. This monument has been delayed now for eight years by the government, and who knows how much longer it will be delayed. All that is for what? No one knows, except for the Prime Minister's Office, why the Liberals interfered in this process. Why did they delay this? Why did they disrespect our veterans who served this country? Why did they disrespect those who gave their lives for this country? Why did they disrespect the families of those who have fallen? No one knows, but I wish the Liberal government would just stand up and say, “We were wrong. We should not have disrespected our veterans in this way, and we are going to fix it.” I really hope that, maybe at some point in this debate, that will still happen, because that is what our veterans deserve, that and nothing less.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:23 [p.19451]
Madam Speaker, that member stands up and says he is proud of the Liberals' record. He is proud of a government that says to veterans, “You are asking for more than we can give.” He is proud of a government that spent eight years just to announce a design, and it bungled it so badly and there was so much interference from the PMO that now it is mired in controversy and will probably end up in court.
Veterans in this country are left wondering when they will have the monument they deserve. The families of the 158 fallen are left wondering when they will have the monument that their loved ones deserve. The member is proud of that. I will tell him that he should be absolutely ashamed.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:24 [p.19451]
Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. We know that the minister of veterans affairs and the minister of Canadian heritage at the time would have some knowledge of what exactly occurred. Now, we know that the Prime Minister's Office interfered. The Prime Minister's Office likely directed them on what they were supposed to do, but they could have come to committee and clarified that for us. If there was a good reason for why they needed to change the design of the monument, why that year and a half of extra delay needed to occur and why they needed to leave this mired in controversy, one would have thought that the ministers would have gladly come to committee and clarified what that good reason was. However, they will not even admit who made the decision, let alone come and clarify their reasons for it.
Once again, it is more disrespect to our veterans, more disrespect to the 158 Canadians who gave their lives in Afghanistan and more disrespect to the families who mourn them. That is shameful.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:26 [p.19451]
Madam Speaker, what we are talking about here today is a situation where a Prime Minister, who has told veterans that they were asking for more than the government can give, delayed a monument for eight years.
I absolutely agree with the member that it is critically important that we listen to our veterans. I have served as our party's critic for veterans affairs, and that is exactly what I have done. I have listened to veterans, and I am hearing what they need, but they are not receiving it from this current Liberal government. A Conservative government will bring that home for our veterans.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 11:40 [p.19453]
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague what he, as a veteran, thinks about the lack of respect the Liberal government showed when the Prime Minister's Office interfered in this matter.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-12-05 14:01 [p.19484]
Madam Speaker, Christmas is a time to give and share, and in my home communities, many volunteer organizations work tirelessly to make the season brighter for those in need.
From the Cochrane and Area Events Society to the Airdrie Food Bank, volunteers have been doing amazing work throughout the year, especially during this Christmas season. The Cochrane Activettes support families by ensuring they have food and other essential items. The Helping Hands Society of Cochrane and Area assists those who are struggling with housing and basic needs. The Airdrie 1st Club and Volunteer Airdrie work hard to ensure that families have access to necessities. Meanwhile, Meals on Wheels has been delivering meals to seniors who are unable to leave their homes, and the Banff and Bow Valley food banks have been providing support to all who need it. Volunteer Canmore and Volunteer Banff help support their communities as well.
As we approach the holidays, I want to thank all these organizations and the countless other individuals who dedicate themselves to helping others. They make a real difference in so many lives. I thank them from their grateful communities for all they do.
Merry Christmas.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-11-09 10:13 [p.18613]
Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Veterans, on the national monument to Canada's mission in Afghanistan, which states:
That the Committee denounces the government's about-face and lack of respect for the rules in deciding not to award the design of the commemorative monument to the team linking the artist Luca Fortin and the architectural firm Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker, which won the competition conducted by a team of experts set up by the Liberal government itself.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-11-08 14:15 [p.18567]
Mr. Speaker, as we approach Remembrance Day, it is important to remember and recognize the sacrifice that so many Canadians made for our freedoms.
The toll of war weighs heavily upon our veterans, so it is our duty to honour their sacred contribution and ensure that they are cared for, yet this Prime Minister has told them that they are asking for more than he can give, and after eight years, we are seeing veterans suffering in record numbers.
We need to recognize that veterans, particularly those with injuries, are vulnerable to the cost of living crisis brought on by this government. The Veterans Food Bank of Calgary reports that demand for its services has doubled and expects the shelves to be empty by the end of the week.
Veterans are suffering right now, with more and more using food banks and homeless shelters. Now, the cost of living crisis has gotten so bad that there are serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are living in their cars because they cannot afford a place to live.
The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost. It is time to bring home a government that will honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but every single day.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-11-02 10:08 [p.18274]
Mr. Speaker, “All these were honoured in their generations and were the glory of their times.” For me, that verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is inscribed on the walls of the Veterans Memorial Buildings here in Ottawa, captures the valour of the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country in uniform in our armed forces, who are the greatest of Canadians.
It is an honour today for me to speak on behalf of the leader of the official opposition and all Conservatives as we approach Remembrance Week. We honour veterans for the great sacrifices they have made in every mission and conflict in Canada's history.
We owe those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have had their lives forever altered and their families who were left behind a debt that we can never fully repay. The instinct to honour our fallen is evident around our country, from Canada's first road of remembrance, established on Shelbourne Street in Victoria, B.C. in 1920, to the Crow's Nest Officers' Club, which was founded during the Second World War by Captain Rollo Mainguy of the Royal Canadian Navy in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Canadians strive to memorialize our fallen, honour those who fought and returned home and show our support for those who still serve our country in uniform today. Parliament Hill hosts one of the greatest memorials, the Room of Remembrance, which contains the records of Canada's fallen warriors. The names of every man and woman who has laid down their lives in service to Canada are logged in books of remembrance, and each day new pages are turned so Canadians can contemplate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service. Each page is a simple list that nonetheless tells a moving story of individuals from every part of our land who spared nothing to keep our country free and who sacrificed everything in defence of all that we cherish today.
The name of Sergeant Charles Albani Dominique Parent of Rimouski, Royal 22nd Regiment, appears on page 57 of the Korean War Book of Remembrance.
Charles Robert Loft of London, Ontario, a flying officer with 419 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, is on page 535 of the book that commemorates the Second World War.
Royal Navy Ordinary Seaman Sidney Macdonald Wheeler of Notre Dame Bay is found on page 204 of the Newfoundland Book of Remembrance.
Closer to home from me is Captain Nichola Goddard of Calgary, on page 219 of the In the Service of Canada Book of Remembrance. In Afghanistan, Nichola was the first Canadian female combat soldier since World War II to lay down her life in frontline combat.
Hailing from all regions of Canada and all branches of service, these and other courageous men and women represent only a fraction of the 120,000 Canadians who lost their lives protecting the freedoms they cherished and the country they loved.
They remind us of the importance of standing up for what is right and just and the need in a dangerous world to defend our values and freedoms. We must always strive to honour our fallen while showing our support and appreciation for our veterans and our men and women still serving in Canada's armed forces. All of them have served Canada with bravery, dedication and selflessness, and they paved the way for and now protect the peace we enjoy today.
Remembrance Day is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices of families who see their loved ones go into service. Many have lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. It is the terrible cost of war. We must always be mindful of the pain of loss and the need for support endured by the families left behind.
I want to read from a letter from the front that was sent by a Canadian soldier, Fred Adams of Ontario, who wrote this letter in May 1915 to his aunt. It reads:
Dear Aunt:
This is the first day they have allowed us to write letters since this battle began and I have no doubt you are anxious to hear from me. Well, we have lost an awful lot of our fellows, and to those of us who are left it seems just a miracle that any of us came through alive.... About two brigades of Canadians held about five times as many Germans. It would have done you good to see the boys. I did not see one show the white feather, but each had a set face and went right at it.... It was just a nightmare, a hell.... We could see the boys falling everywhere, and it was just awful to hear them cry out.... We have lost two of our guns and there are only eleven of us left out of the section. Well all the boys did the best they could and I for one am ready to do it again, only I hope the war will soon end, for the sake of the poor parents, wives and sweethearts of all the soldiers. Still I thank God that I am spared and always pray that He will soon end the war. With Love. FRED.
Sadly, Fred Adams was killed in action just days after this letter was sent to his family.
Letters such as Fred's are among the hundreds of thousands that came home from the front to worried loved ones at home. They are vivid reminders of the real people, with their humanity, their courage and their dedication, who are the reasons we enjoy the freedoms we do today.
It is a privilege of the generations that have received liberty as our legacy to honour the sacrifices of those who secured it for us at so steep a cost. It is our duty and their due that we pay tribute to their sacrifice by fixing their service and their sacrifices in our remembrance and by ensuring that we always cherish and uphold the very freedoms they fought for.
We will remember them.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-10-26 15:05 [p.17994]
Mr. Speaker, the Remembrance Day ceremony in Halifax has had to move out this year because a tent city has overtaken its usual grounds. After eight years of the Liberal government, things are so broken in Canada that the housing crisis uprooting Canadians has now also uprooted at least one city's Remembrance Day ceremony from its own home.
People cannot afford homes, and now they cannot even properly honour our veterans. Will the Prime Minister finally admit that after eight years, he has no plan to fix what he has broken and that he is just not worth the cost?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-10-18 15:27 [p.17593]
Mr. Speaker, each year on November 11, we gather to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our nation. Now, under the Liberal government, our military chaplains are being told they cannot even pray for the fallen.
During World War II, chaplains led prayer on the boats on the eve of the D-Day landings. Chaplains have provided last rites to dying soldiers in the field. The Prime Minister is now telling Canadians that, on Remembrance Day, they cannot even pray for those who fought for our country.
What is going on?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2023-10-03 16:15 [p.17203]
Mr. Speaker, Canadian veterans have spent their lives serving and sacrificing for our freedoms, and they were left to watch in horror as a Nazi soldier was recognized in the House.
When veterans ask for basic care, the Prime Minister tells them they are asking for more than he can give. Now, he would have veterans believe that basic vetting for Nazis is also asking more than he can give.
When will the Prime Minister finally be accountable and apologize to veterans?
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