Remembrance Day is fast approaching. It is a time when Canadians reflect on the proud heritage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. We gather at war memorials and cenotaphs across Canada to pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate price for us.
These sacred gathering spots should be treated with the utmost respect. Sadly, there are those who would desecrate these monuments to our veterans. That is why our Government recently supported Bill C-217, an act to protect war memorials and cenotaphs in Canada, brought forward by Conservative MP David Tilson.
We called on the NDP to set aside their ideology out of respect for our fallen soldiers. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against the bill. They voted against penalties for those who intentionally defile permanent tributes to Canada’s fallen heroes.
Bill C-217 seeks to add significant penalties to the mischief section of the Criminal Code for those convicted of mischief against our war memorials, cenotaphs and similar structures that honour those who have died as a result of war. The first offence would carry a fine of not less than $1,000. The second offence would carry a jail term of 14 days. The third and subsequent offences would carry a 30-day jail term.
While we are not opposed to rehabilitative measures such as community service for first time offenders, we also believe that it should be in addition to a minimum penalty of $1000, which will force vandals to consider the gravity of their actions. As for those who choose to commit this offense more than once, it is clear that a jail sentence is necessary.
We must stand up for our men and women in uniform – and those who have given their lives to protect ours – and against vandals who seek to tarnish their memories and contributions.
Bill C-217 is an important step to ensuring that the respect our soldiers deserve is kept intact, that their bravery will not be forgotten and their sacrifices will not be in vain.
Of course, the memory of our fallen and the bravery of our soldiers are stronger than the acts of criminals. But to stand indifferent to such repulsive actions is unconscionable. That’s why we seek to deter such acts.
Bill C-217 sends a clear message that vandalism and desecration of any Canadian cenotaph or war memorial will not be tolerated. We owe it all to the men and women who have fought and continue to fight in the Canadian Forces for our great country. During Veterans’ Week, it is more important than ever that we support measures to protect our fallen war heroes.
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