MASSE IN THE HOUSE: On Veterans Affairs
NDP Opposition Motion Supporting Veterans
May 12th, 2015 - 10:11am
May 11, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak here today to a very important motion. The first thing I want to address is the rhetoric that has come across from that stream over there. I listened today very intently to what the members said and what they projected back on us, saying that the NDP is not supportive and is actually anti-military in terms of how we approach things.
My grandfather, John Clifford Addison, died on the HMS Scorpion. My grandmother was lucky enough to survive the bombing raids of London and to marry Fred Attwood, who came back after serving in the merchant marines and the Royal Navy and raised me as his grandson. I will not take any lessons from any of them about being anti-military. I grew up listening at the kitchen table to stories of what he and his mates went through.
I cannot understand the divisive rhetoric coming from that group over there. I was really shocked to hear, when I asked the question about opening up the Windsor office, which is in the motion about opening offices, that they are going to vote for this motion, but they will not open the offices again. That is a shame.
When we add up the closure of the offices, it saves less than $6 million. What did the Conservatives spend on advertising for Keystone in Washington alone? They spent $26 million. The money in our offices kept those buildings open, served our veterans, employed people, and made sure that people got care. What did Washington advertising do? It did nothing. It only irritated our neighbours and our friends. However, what it did do was leave an impression with Canadians, and I hope they listen to this now. It is about choices: $26 million in Washington, or less than $6 million to employ people in Canada to serve our veterans and keep our offices open. That is what we should have been doing.
Mr. Speaker, my question to the parliamentary secretary is simply this. Does that mean you are going to open up the Windsor office again?
Mr. Speaker, I will point out that I am not a parliamentary secretary anymore. To save you the trouble, I will advise him to ask the question through you and not directly to a member.
All of that aside, no, it does not mean we are going to open up the Windsor office. I was on the deficit reduction action plan cabinet committee at Treasury Board that did this process. We looked at every way in every major department that we could be more efficient. Yes, that meant saving some money, but it also meant being more efficient. We looked at the workload of various areas. The nine places that were closed had, in fact, a relatively low user rate.
In fact, several departments, National Defence, for example, took a full 10% cut. Veterans Affairs took the smallest cut of any, other than maybe aboriginal affairs, in the neighbourhood of about 1.9%. All of the cuts were designed to look at areas that provided more efficiency and better bang for the buck so we could focus on those who needed us most, the most seriously injured veterans.