OTTAWA — While Canadians across the country celebrated their peacekeepers past and present this past weekend, the ceremony in Ottawa was of particular interest after Global News reported the Conservatives had asked the ceremony’s organizers to pen the speech for parliamentary secretary for veterans affairs Parm Gill.
Global News gave the government almost two full days to respond to questions for that article but communications staff for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino did not respond until after the story was published. On Friday afternoon a spokesperson said via email any suggestion the department had asked peacekeeping veterans to write a speech was “completely false.” Ceremony organizer Wayne Mac Culloch took exception to that statement:
“I think I’m going to be losing a lot of sleep tonight,” he said after hearing the government’s response. “It’s difficult to take government at its word and then have government turn around and say we never said that.”
The speech Gill delivered at Sunday’s ceremony strayed from the one Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping gave Global News just days earlier. It excluded any mention of adding a police officer to Ottawa’s peacekeepers’ memorial, as it has been asked to do and as Mac Culloch said he wrote into Gill’s speech.
If only we could travel to an alternate timeline where Friday’s story was never published, to see and hear what Gill would have said.
According to an iPolitics reporter who was at Sunday’s ceremony in downtown Ottawa, Gill refuted the assertion he and his staff would not have written his speech.
Today I asked Parm Gill about the controversy around his script. He said he is competent and able to write his own script, as is his staff
— Annie BergeronOliver (@AnnieClaireBO) August 10, 2014
Below is the speech the peacekeepers’ association gave Global News, a transcript of Gill’s speech and copies of written statements from Fantino, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.
Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping:
Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs. Bonjour.
It is an honour to be here in Ottawa with you to mark National Peacekeepers’ Day—a day that reflects so much of our country’s proud history and heritage.
Around the world, Canada is respected as a peaceful and just nation … a nation dedicated to freedom and democracy … and we know that much of the credit goes to the men and women we are honouring today.
Canada’s peacekeepers … from our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces to our police officers … have proudly served wherever they’ve been needed. And each time, they have brought hope to people who had only known fear and violence.
We have some of these remarkable men and women with us today, and I want to thank you for your service and your sacrifice. Many times you have arrived in countries where there was little peace to be kept … and you have always distinguished yourselves through your courage and compassion.
2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of Canadian military service on the United Nations mission in Cyprus and celebrates 25 years of Canadian police contributions to international peace operations. From its humble beginnings in 1948, Canadian peacekeeping efforts have showcased the best of Canada and Canadians. The three military figures on the monument behind me recognize those beginnings and the variety of military missions in which our country has participated in the decades since, but there is something missing – a police officer. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Government of Canada is resolved to correct that deficiency by adding a fourth figure – one modeled on the officers preparing for deployment with us on parade today, and recognizing their unique achievements.
That is why we are here today. That is what we are recognizing … the generations of Canadian peacekeepers who have served and continue to serve around the globe … more than 150,000 men and women who have dedicated themselves to defending our shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
As we gather here, Canadian peacekeepers are still proudly serving in places such as Haiti, the Darfur, the Congo, and the Middle East. They are serving in harm’s way because they believe a better world is possible … and that troubled nations can realize a better tomorrow.
Our Government is proud of such commitment … such selfless service … and we know that all Canadians share our pride in our nation’s peacekeepers. We see it every time Canadians travel abroad with the Red Maple Leaf proudly displayed. We know our flag is recognized around the world as a symbol of peace and freedom.
But our peacekeeping traditions have come at a terrible price to our country. Canada has lost some of her finest sons and daughters in the name of peace.
That is why we mark National Peacekeepers’ Day each year … to remember Canada’s fallen men and women, and to stand with their families and mourn our nation’s loss.
National Peacekeepers’ Day allows us to pause and remember the courageous men and women who have served so many noble causes around the world.
I want to thank all of you for being here this morning. Your presence reflects your determination to keep faith with Canada’s fallen peacekeepers and those that have served with you.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, our Government and our grateful nation, I want to thank each one of you— for your service and your sacrifice. You will never be forgotten in the places where you’ve served … and you will always be remembered as our nation’s truest heroes
Lest we forget.
– 30 –
Prepared by: Richard Roik, speech writer and co-ordinator
WATCH: This weekend, the tens of thousands of Canadians who served overseas on United Nations peacekeeping missions were honoured. But the soldiers, veterans and police officers say they’re a forgotten group.
Parliamentary secretary Parm Gill:
It is an honour to be here with you in Ottawa this morning, on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs, to mark National Peacekeepers’ Day., a truly Canadian tradition.
Peacekeeping is a part of who we are. As Canadians, it goes to the heart of our proud history and it reflects our enduring values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
That is why I feel privileged to stand amongst so many of our nation’s finest peacekeepers who have brought honour and distinction to our country.
As members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and as police officers, diplomats and aide workers serving in some of the most troubled parts of the world, indeed as we gather here today, Canadians are proud of how you have always been willing to serve wherever you’re required, just as so many generations of men and women before you stepped forward when the world called, because that is the Canadian way.
We’ve been reminded of that this year, as our government formally marked the 50th anniversary of Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. On March 4, 1964, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for the deployment of peacekeeping forces. Mere days later, Canadian military forces were among the first to arrive in Cyprus. Fifty years later, Cyprus has come a long way. While lasting peace remains elusive, the island nation is now a member of both the European Union and the United Nations.
This is a legacy that Canadians can be proud of and one that Cyprus greatly recognizes. Minister Fantino saw that firsthand this year, when he led a delegation of Canadian peacekeepers returning to Cyprus. Everywhere he went, those Canadian veterans were greeted with a hero’s welcome.
And it is the same reception wherever Canadian peacekeepers have served. The world will never forget you, the sacrifices you’ve made, nor will Canadians ever forget that.
We must never forget those noble men who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom, peace and democracy in countries around the world. We remember our loss every single day. That is why we are here today. That is why we mark National Peacekeepers’ Day each year, to join as one and remember such selfless sacrifices.
And so on behalf of the prime minister, Minister Fantino, our government and all Canadians, I thank you for your faithful service in pursuit of peace and freedom throughout the world. You have done your duty. You have made our country proud, and the world is truly a better place because of you.
Lest we forget.
Veterans Minister Julian Fantino:
“Canadian peacekeepers are internationally respected for the unparalleled contributions they have made to peace and stability the world over. Today, on National Peacekeepers’ Day, I am honoured to recognize their heroic efforts.
“For more than six decades, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, provincial and municipal police forces, as well as civilians and diplomats, have worked together to maintain peace and stability throughout the world.
“On August 9, 1974, nine Canadian Armed Forces members were killed when their plane was shot down during a United Nations supply flight in the Middle East. This remains the largest single-day loss for our country during a peacekeeping mission. Today, we not only remember them, but also the more than 275 Canadians who have lost their lives in peace-support missions around the world.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I offer heartfelt thanks to all Canadians who have served as peacekeepers. Their achievements, courage and commitment have made a profound difference in the lives of people around the world.”
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson:
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls and Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement:
“For several decades, Canada has made important contributions to peacekeeping operations. National Peacekeepers’ Day provides Canadians with an opportunity to recognize the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Canadian civilians who work in support of peace around the world.
“Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces have a long association with Peace Support Operations. Over the course of the past 60 years, the Canadian Armed Forces have consistently risen to the challenge of contributing and maintaining international peace and security.
“This important work does not come without sacrifice. We must always remember those who paid the ultimate price helping to bring peace to dangerous conditions. Canada’s first casualty on a peacekeeping mission occurred in 1951, and since then 116 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, three members of the Canadian Foreign Service and two RCMP officers have died in far-off lands in the service of peace. On National Peacekeeping Day, we also recognize their service and commemorate their sacrifice.
“Canada remains committed to working with our allies and partners in the international community to preserve and promote a free, democratic, and peaceful world.”
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney:
“National Peacekeepers’ Day recognizes and honours Canadians who have served or are currently serving in peace missions around the world.
Many serve on these missions, including police officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial and municipal forces, as well as personnel from the Canada Border Services Agency and the Correctional Service of Canada. They train and advise foreign law enforcement officers, border and correctional staff to promote the rule of law and uphold human rights. Their dedication and selfless service have contributed to improving the security and stability of troubled countries including Haiti and Afghanistan.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Canadian police contributions to international peace operations. Thousands of Canadian police serve in peacekeeping missions around the world to assist foreign police to maintain law and order, and create a safer environment for their communities.
Today, please take the time to reflect and thank the men and women who have sacrificed so much to ensure that others are able to live in a peaceful and secure world.”
© Shaw Media, 2014