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Wilson recognizes Merchant Navy Veterans Day

(August 31, 2017) This Sunday, September 3rd is Merchant Navy Veterans Day in Canada, and if it were up to Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson the same designation would be made here in Ontario. In May, Wilson introduced Bill 130, Merchant Navy Veterans Day Act, 2017, which echoes federal legislation to have the same day recognized in Ontario.  
The Government of Canada passed legislation recognizing the day in 2003 after the late Jack Stapleton, a former Wasaga Beach resident and navy veteran, initiated the idea through his federal Member of Parliament, Paul Bonwick.  
"In Ontario, veterans of the merchant navy have never received the recognition they deserved and it's time we change that," said Wilson. "Canada's Merchant Navy played a significant and vital role in the war sailing transport ships carrying vital cargo and personnel to our allies on the frontlines. They deserve recognition from our province."
Merchant mariners were a volunteer organization. They held no military standing, had no formal training and didn't receive government benefits or have uniforms to identify them on land. Yet, they suffered the most causalities of any Canadian fighting service--over 1700 lost their lives.
"I hope my legislation, as part of a national campaign, will help increase awareness about the sacrifices and contributions made by these brave men and women toward defending our freedom," said Wilson.
Wilson was approached about drafting the legislation by Mr. Stephane Ouellette, President and CEO of the Merchant Navy Commemorative Theme Project, who is working to have the day recognized by every province in Canada. So far British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland-Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba have made similar proclamations. 
Wilson's legislation is currently at first reading. It is up to the Liberal government to decide when the bill will move forward in the legislative process and pass into law.

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