I would like to thank my Parliamentary colleagues for electing me to the position of Chair, of the Canada-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Association. Their vote of confidence in my ability to represent Canadian interests in an important forum like NATO is truly humbling.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly was established in 1955 to provide an essential link between NATO and the elected representatives of the NATO Nations. This helps build parliamentary and public consensus in support of Alliance policies. The Canada-NATO Parliamentary Association consists of membership of all political parties represented in the House of Commons.
The tempo of NATO missions have increased significantly in recent times. As the Member of Parliament for the largest army base in Canada, CFB Petawawa, where much of the heavy lifting for NATO missions is tasked from, I have an important role to play in the safety and security of our women and men in uniform. I owe it to their families for them to know their MP is ‘watching the backs’ of their loved ones. This is particularly true when it comes to overseas missions that are a result of Canada’s membership in NATO.
CFB Petawawa has come a long ways from the dark days of the military cutbacks of the 1990’s. There was even discussion by the old Chretien administration that our base could be mothballed. I have worked to protect local jobs. CFB Petawawa is now the largest army base in Canada, and we still have not finished growing. The Department of National Defence has provided a stable base of employment for the people of the upper Ottawa Valley. Much of the growth in our military has been a result of our Canada First Defence Policy that rejects being a defence freeloader in favour of a Nation that assumes its international responsibilities, like NATO, seriously.
Canada has a greatly enhanced international reputation, thanks to the sound economic leadership of our government during the current economic downturn, and the absolutely outstanding job of our men and women in uniform, most recently in Afghanistan, as part of the NATO mission to that country. Nowhere is that more apparent than when I represent our country internationally at forums like NATO. Canada is back and it shows.