Statement made on 24 April 2012 by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day:
Honourable senators, a week ago in this place I had the opportunity to participate in a debate on Bomber Command and the tremendous contribution of Bomber Command to the Allied effort in World War II. In that speech I called for a permanent reminder in Canada of the tremendous sacrifice on the part of Canadian pilots and ground crew who were part of Bomber Command and who participated in many of the crucial missions at that time.
I am very pleased to advise honourable senators that, on the following day, Veterans Affairs Canada announced that it would be contributing $100,000 to a Bomber Command memorial to be unveiled in London, England, at the end of June of this year, by Her Majesty the Queen, Queen of Canada and Queen of England.
This, honourable senators, is a laudable contribution that I hope is but the beginning of an effort to create a permanent reminder here in Canada of the contributions of Canadians who participated in Bomber Command during the Second World War.
The response to that announcement by the government has been overwhelming. The tone of the responses that we have received is very passionate and, while there is still much debate on just how Bomber Command should be recognized here in Canada, there is no question that there should be some Canadian recognition.
Honourable senators, our recent missions in Afghanistan and in Libya as part of the United Nations and NATO forces have served as a reminder to us of just how professional, capable and adaptable the Royal Canadian Air Force is as a military force. Our Canadian Forces comprise 65,000 regular force members and approximately 25,000 reserve forces. Of this, the RCAF has 14,500 regular forces and 2,600 reservists.
It is hard to ignore recent headlines about what our air force will look like in the years to come and what equipment it will have, but there is no doubt that the RCAF is undergoing a period of transition. Regardless of the outcome of that, it is comforting to know that the brave men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force will be there to protect our Canadian values at home and abroad.
I would ask honourable senators to join our guests this evening from five until seven o'clock in room 256-S where we will be celebrating Royal Canadian Air Force Day on the Hill. One of the guests will be Master Warrant Officer (Ret'd) Vic Johnson, who has just retired after 53 years of unbroken service in the RCAF, the Canadian Forces and the Air Force Association of Canada, where he served as editor of Airforce magazine. I hope honourable senators will be able to drop by this afternoon to thank these representatives of the Royal Canadian Air Force properly.
Thank you, honourable senators.