Debate: Honouring Canada’s Veterans

Wednesday, March 09, 2023

TORONTO — As part of debate for Bill 65, the Honouring Our Veterans Act, 2023, Sheref Sabawy, Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga—Erin Mills made the following speech in support of the bill to the Ontario Legislature:

“It’s my honour today to stand to support our member from Whitby bringing this piece of legislation. It is very important to show respect to our veterans, and not only to our veterans but their families who have suffered the most. They suffered the loss of a loved one or suffered an injury of some member of the family, and there is a tendency to feel, at some point, that they have been forgotten about—everybody got busy with their life, and those veterans feel like they’ve been left behind.
With this piece of legislation, it’s a very small token of appreciation to show some appreciation for those veterans who served their country. People in uniform are different—a different life than the rest of us. They actually have no exact schedule: They don’t take vacations like the rest of us; they don’t get to enjoy being with their family at Christmas or Easter or religious vacations or summertime. They have minimal time with their families and their kids. They are sacrificing a lot and, of course, the cost of sacrifice is if some of those veterans lost their lives.

“In my riding of Erin-Mills, I meet from time to time with Bob Cairns, who is a World War II veteran, and his wife, Mora. When we speak about the time during the war, it’s not like today, where information and emails and updates come momentarily; they used letters. So they would wait for a letter or some news, and it was a very difficult and stressful time for the whole family. He can tell lots of stories about the war.

“Again, in my riding as well, we have the family of Marc Diab, who was 22 years old and lost his life in Afghanistan on March 8, 2009—22 years old, a very nice young man, with his parents Hani and Jihan Diab from Mississauga. I would imagine how they would feel when they see the whole Legislature honouring the legion of their son as one of the veterans. I think that’s a very small symbol of respect.

“The other part which I want to speak about is, we need to do all that we can do to teach our second generation, to show them how much we are honouring the veterans, how much we are honouring the people in uniform who are making those sacrifices, how proud we are of those people in uniform. We need to build that patriotism in their personalities, the feeling that the whole country, the Legislature, everybody—I remember when I was young, when we had small villages, when one of the members of the village came home from his war duty or an assignment somewhere, the whole village would do celebrations, proud that one of the village members is serving the country. So I think it’s not a big thing, but it shows at least some respect to those veterans.

“I will say, for everybody here, if you go to one of the Legions, you’ll see some of the members of the veterans. Sit with them. Have a coffee, have a beer, and talk with them about their memories of the war. At least that will give them some feeling that somebody still remembers what they did for this country. I know that everyone gets busy, and families get busy with their lives, and the veterans feel that nobody is appreciating what they did or that nobody still thinks about what they did.

“So I think it’s a very important piece of legislation to show some respect to those veterans, who, in my opinion, even during their day-to-day work—they leave home, and they don’t know if they are coming home or not. They might get an assignment, leave the country in a hurry and never come back to their families. This is very stressful. All the people in uniform, when they leave their home, they don’t know if they are going to see their family again or not. I think it’s a very big sacrifice from them, from those members, from their families, from their kids, and what we are doing today is a very small token of appreciation, of showing some of the appreciation for what they did and they do every day—and giving an example for the people who are currently in the service that we honour their work, we honour their sacrifice.

“What I would like to add to that, too, is I would like to say that it’s not only my honour, but I really strongly support the bill. Just tell them that we still will always remember them. Lest we forget. Thank you.”