Progress is being made on restoring the gravestones of military veterans on P.E.I.
Officials say two-thirds of the 900 gravestones belonging to veterans on the Island have been restored so far.
Owen Parkhouse is the president of the P.E.I. and New Brunswick branches of The Last Post Fund, which is set up to ensure that no veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial, as well as a military gravestone, due to insufficient funds at time of death.
"Those are the people that gave themselves to defend our country and make it what it is today," Parkhouse said Wednesday after an update on the program by the federal government.
"Whether they died in battle, or came home and died shortly thereafter, or lived a full life. It's our duty to remember them and to thank them. And I think having proper grave markers is a way to thank them and to immortalize them."
That five-year program, announced in 2017, included $100,000 to restore gravestones on the Island.
Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay was in Souris Wednesday morning to provide the update.
"Those who served deserve nothing less than our lasting respect," he said.
"They all fought with a maple leaf on their shoulder and to make sure we had peace and security in the world — and that we can never forget."
MacAulay said he expects the work to be completed by 2023.
After the update on the program, MacAulay also defended the prime minister's decision to obtain a prorogation of Parliament from the governor general.
Justin Trudeau is facing criticism for suspending the functioning of parliament during a pandemic — and while federal committees look into the WE charity controversy
"We went through probably, without any question, a world-changing event," MacAulay said.
"It was only appropriate to prorogue. What we did was got through the pandemic to this point and now we have to put an agenda together to make sure that our economy rebounds and we will do that."
However, ten years ago when the Harper government attempted to halt parliament through prorogation MacAulay attended a protest outside Province House.
"I think we are fully aware that the government was going to come down at that time. And it is obvious that that was done to prevent the government from falling," he said.
Different this time?
MacAulay said this prorogation is different. He said COVID-19 is the worst pandemic in the last century and the Liberal government has to realign so the economy "rebounds strong."
The Trudeau government has promised to deliver a new throne speech Sept. 23. That will trigger a confidence motion in parliament with the potential to bring down the minority government.
MacAulay was asked Wednesday if he will run in the next election.
He said he's "always getting ready for an election."
MacAulay is the longest-serving MP in Island history, first elected in 1988.
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