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.