Ottawa - Gord Brown Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenville, last night praised the Brockville Rifles in the House of Commons.
During a committee of the whole meeting where Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor was being asked about defence spending plans this year, Brown asked a question about the role of the reserves in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Following is the text of the question and the Minister's response.
Brown said: "The Canadian Reserve Force is composed of dedicated men and women who are enrolled for service other than continuing, full-time military service.
"The Reserve Force is divided into four sub-components: the Primary Reserve; the Supplementary Reserve; the Cadet Instructor Cadre; and the Canadian Rangers.
"The role of the Primary Reserve is to augment, sustain and support deployed forces and, in some cases, perform tasks that are not performed by Regular Force members.
"The Canadian Forces are continuing to explore ways to enhance the role of Reserves in civil preparedness to respond to natural disasters and local emergencies.
"In fact, I would be remiss at this juncture not to mention The Brockville Rifles located in Brockville in my riding of Leeds-Grenville.
"This is an outstanding reserve unit with a long proud history and tremendous connection to their community. They proved their worth to the community during the now famous Ice Storm of 1998.
"At the height of that storm there were 825 people housed at the Brockville Armouries, 75 of whom were regular
forces members while the rest were reserves from all across Ontario.
"It should be noted that there was another similar contingent housed in Cornwall during this same crisis
"The reservists did a number of jobs during this storm including but not limited to assisting with police traffic control, patrolling vulnerable cottage areas, assisting older folks out of isolated rural homes and into care centres, hand delivering water to cattle, and they put in thousands of hours of work clearing fallen trees with the city, individuals and hydro crews.
"There are currently 125 reserve members in Brockville and the Rifles are looking forward to further expansion.
"Because many of its members are of high school age, the Brockville Rifles has received funding for the past two years as part of the local school board's co-operative education program.
"They are an important part of the community of Brockville and of Leeds-Grenville.
"The Canadian Forces Reserves are also an integral part of the Canadian Forces.
"They are playing a key role in our current operation in Afghanistan as the Department of National Defence's Report on Plans and Priorities states: and I quote ""Currently, reservists make up 13% of the Department of National Defence's deployed strength abroad, including one in seven soldiers in Afghanistan.
"The Canadian Forces Transformation and anticipated commitments in international operations suggest that this rate of reservists' participation in operations will be maintained, if not increased, under the new Integrated Managed Readiness System."
"End of quote
"Can the Minister of National Defence provide an update on what the Canadian Forces is doing with regards to the Primary Reserves?"
Minister O'Connor's response:
"The Government extends its gratitude to the men and women of the Reserves. The Reserves are an integral part of the Canadian Forces and we could not fulfill many important roles both at home and overseas without them.
"There are currently approximately 25,000 members of the Reserve Force within nine separate organizations including: Army, Navy, Air Force, Communications, Medical, and Legal Reserves. 45% of Reservists hold full time civilian jobs and 40% are students.
"As we promised during the election campaign, we are working to expand the Primary Reserve Force to 30,000.
"Not many Canadians know that our Reservist fill such a diverse set of roles. For example our Naval Reservists provide port security and operate Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, members of the Air Reserve perform squadron augmentation and support roles and the Army Reserve will participate in Territorial Battalions.
"The Canadian Forces continues to work on the Land Force Reserve Restructure, an ongoing project designed to help ensure the long-term relevance and effectiveness of the Army Reserve and the Canadian Forces as a whole by expanding the role and size of the Land Force Reserve.
"The second phase of the project, which focused on change and growth, wrapped up this summer. But, the restructure of the Land Force Reserve continues to move forward.
"The Land Force Reserve Restructure has resulted in significant benefits including improving the way the CF recruits reservists, the development of personnel policies to support force generation for operations, and the growth of the Army Reserve to it's current strength of more than 16,000.
"The Land Force Reserve Restructure process was recently integrated into the overall CF and Army transformation process. Work is now underway on a third phase that will guide future growth and further integration of the Army Reserve.
"Reservists are playing an invaluable role in our current mission in Afghanistan and the Canadian Forces currently have mechanisms in place to assist Reserve members in maintaining their civilian employment while they are deployed. For example, the Canadian Forces Liaison Council has a highly successful process in place to advocate on behalf of Reservists.
"The Council has lobbied more than 4,900 employers who have pledged to support the Reserve and more than half of those have committed to allowing their employees to participate in operations. Among them, the federal government, all ten provincial governments and 147 municipalities have stated their support.
"As an estimated 40% of Reservists are students, the Canadian Force Liaison Council has launched a special project to reach 308 post-secondary schools and obtain their support for Reservists who attend their institutions. In the first year of the project 163 institutions have pledged their support.
"We will continue to work with the private sector to help them understand the important role Reservists play in the Canadian Forces and for their country and the skills and experience they bring back to their employer upon return from a deployment."