Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable colleagues, for more than a decade I have risen in this chamber to thank the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force for their service, and I do so again today.
I would like to welcome Lieutenant-General Coates from Colorado Springs, a Canadian serving with NORAD, and Lieutenant-General Meinzinger who has been introduced as Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Today, approximately 14,500 Regular Force men and women and 2,600 Air Reserve personnel, supported by 2,500 civilians, set a standard of quality of service that harkens back to the extraordinary history of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
For almost 100 years since its foundation in 1924, the RCAF has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to safety and security, serving around the world, and today’s members are a part of that proud tradition.
Their role has never been more varied: defending and protecting our Canadian and North America airspace; transporting supplies and personnel wherever required; undertaking critical search and rescue missions; serving in NATO operations; gathering vital intelligence and providing the skilled communications required to connect our men and women wherever operations are taking place around the world.
Time after time, the men and women of the RCAF face challenges at home and abroad with valour, expertise and dedication. I know they will continue to meet the future with the same dedication, courage and professionalism.
This year is particularly special as we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. On May 12, 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States signed an agreement to create this binational organization, the only such organization in the world that would be responsible for defending North America aerospace.
For the last 60 years, NORAD has fulfilled that mission, defending our two nations from external threats each and every day. Over the years the mission has evolved to include maritime warning to ensure the defence of North America against threats from the air and from the sea.
Colleagues, this is Air Force Day on the Hill. This evening, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., I invite you to come by room 256-S to thank the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force for their service to us and to Canada. Thank you.