No, I wasn't caught in the middle of battle in some far flung part of the globe. The incredible roar of approval from the crowd of 35,000 reminded me I was very much at home. It was the half-time show on Friday night in BC Place during the Lions vs. Eskimos football game. Every year during Remembrance Week they host a huge on-field parade of aging veterans, regular soldiers and young cadets.
I had been asked to represent the Federal Government by marching on to the field with a battle group of our soldiers. Let me tell you, for me it was a thrill and an honour of rare proportions. They put me at the front of the platoon, marching beside its Commanding Officer, a young female Lieutenant. I could tell by the way they snapped to attention from her first command that she had their full respect and everyone could tell they all had the full respect of the people of Canada from the way the crowd erupted and rose to their feet as we marched onto the turf.
We stood at centre field as a solemn line of vintage military vehicles did a drive past. Each classic truck or jeep carried equally aged but well preserved veterans. During their youthful days many of these men had driven these vehicles into combat. Many of their comrades did not return from those battle drives, flights or sailings. I forget the score of the ball game on Friday night. I suspect most of the fans don't want to remember (the Lions got whacked).
But I realized something as I stood with those soldiers, choked up as I always get when the bugle plays the Last Post. I realized that Canadians, young and old, will not forget what our Veterans did for us. Nor do we forget what our troops continue to do, in dangerous places like Afghanistan.
To each veteran and loved one reading this column, let me assure you. We know full well we enjoy freedom and prosperity because of what you and your comrades did and continue to do.
We will remember them.
As far as the rest of the Parliamentary week goes, we managed an historic breakthrough. We finally got a vote in favour of officially taking down the billion dollar boondoggle known as the long gun registry. It's only a first step, but it's an important one. Anybody wanting to buy any type of firearm still must apply for a license, requiring a full personal background check and the hand gun registry and restricted fire arm registry stays in place.
What we want to stop is the senseless hassling of farmers and sports shooters with a 12-year-old administrative nightmare that does nothing to reduce crime. Added to that is the observation from the Auditor-General that the long gun registry continued to be fraught with errors and was unreliable in too many situations.
The Bill still has to survive two more votes in the House of Commons. We only got it this far because a handful of opposition members broke ranks and voted with us. The leaders of the Liberals, NDP and Bloc parties all voted to keep it and vowed to bring it back if they form government.
We achieved another first this week. We introduced legislation that will allow self-employed men and women to qualify for certain benefits like maternity leave, sick leave, and compassionate leave.
Finally these hard working citizens who empower our economy can register for these important items. Hopefully that's a registry we can all support.
To top off a full legislative week we also managed to get some opposition support to pass extended unemployment benefits to people who have worked long years without being laid off. Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals voted against that.
All in all, a week to remember.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.