Standing up for Canada’s military

As your Member of Parliament, I was very pleased with the huge crowds that turned out on Remembrance Day in communities large and small all across our riding. Throughout Veterans’ Week, it is good to see people paying homage to Canada’s military in our schools, places of worship, at clubs, meetings, and even ‘on the job’.

Making a small contribution by buying and wearing (several) poppies each year is the least we do to commemorate the hard work and sacrifice of those in our communities who are serving or have served in our Canadian Armed Forces. During the run-up to Veterans Week, our government announced a 100% rebate of any sales tax the Royal Canadian Legion pays when they buy their poppies and wreaths from private sector suppliers.

There is a great deal more that our nation does in support of Canada’s military veterans and I detailed many of those efforts in my column last week. During Veterans’ Week this year, I also had the opportunity to advise local organizations that they can apply to the federal government for assistance with funding for the construction of war memorials in Canadian communities. Over many decades, our riding of Crowfoot has always been, and continues to be, home to numerous Canadian Veterans and currently-serving Canadian Armed Forces personnel. With this new program, the federal government will help local communities pay up to 50 per cent of the total project cost of constructing new places to honour Canada’s truest heroes—our Veterans.

Many of you will know that our Conservative government has announced that Canada will send up to 950 troops to Afghanistan next year for a post-2011 training mission Soldiers, trainers and others in support roles, will be posted outside of Kandahar province in Afghanistan’s south where most Canadian troops are now concentrated.

Most of Canada’s training mission will be devoted to training soldiers in the Afghan National Army, and none of the troops will be posted in mentoring operations that would require them to accompany Afghan army personnel on combat operations. The training mission will stay within two key restrictions set by Parliament when it voted two years ago to withdraw Canadian combat forces in 2011: none of the soldiers in the post-2011 mission will be in combat, and none will be in Kandahar.

Our government’s post-2011 plans for Afghanistan, include the training mission and a continued development strategy. At the current NATO Leaders’ Summit, Prime Minister Harper is expected to join Canada’s Allies endorsement of handing over the ‘lead role’ in security to Afghan forces in 2014.

Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan will see our nation return to our traditional role overseas – a non-combat role. While we will not be ‘peacekeeping’ in the traditional sense, the deployment of our troops on this training mission will be very much like, for example, our recent deployment to Haiti for post-earthquake rescue efforts last winter.

Canada’s military will always have a role to play on the international scene. We have been successful helping people in many parts of the world over the decades. The world continues to want and ask for our participation. We should be proud that we are able and want to continue to work with the international community helping people in crisis outside of our own borders.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail sorenk1@parl.gc.ca

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