Military vets become political props



Article: Aidan Macnab – Contributor

Usually when the Harper Government is criticized, the criticism is in conjunction with some “divisive smear campaign,” often done out of an unpatriotic desire to hurt the Canadian economy.

Whenever it appears that they have made a mistake, lied, cheated in an election, or are just way, way, way too cozy with the oil industry, it’s an illusion caused by a treasonous attempt to rid Canada of jobs and prosperity.

But it isn’t radical environmentalists, censored scientists, or David Suzuki angry with them this time. Over the last couple of weeks, it has been Military Veterans on their case.

Whenever the drums of war start beating, the public seems to be split into two groups. Those who are against the war and those who “Support the Troops.”

This represents a useful political maneuver. Using soldiers as human shields to deflect any criticism of any war effort, is a weaselly and manipulative tactic that we’ve witnessed our Republican neighbours to the south master over the last decade.

In Canada, it’s the Tories that claim the military as their own. They buy F-35 jets, whatever the price, because they, unlike their opposition, they do not ignore the military.

Come election time this ‘unapologetic warrior’ attitude allows them tap into the testosterone-driven tribalism that exists in a large portion of the electorate. These selfless patriots look down their nose at the cowardly pacifists, not brave enough to back up their fellow countrymen-in-arms.

But, unfortunately for the Tories, it’s clear that, despite their tough-guy talk, they don’t walk the walk when it comes to backing up veterans and their families.

Last Tuesday, Canada’s Veteran’s Ombudsman, Guy Parent, released a report that strongly criticizes the Harper Government’s Veterans Charter.

The Charter was enacted in 2006, overhauled in 2011, and Parent alleges that this new system of compensation provides injured veterans with less benefits than were entitled to them before, under the Canadian Pension Act.

The report raises alarms about the accessibility of the “Permanent Impairment Allowance,”Thus, “fifty three percent of veterans who are unable to engage in suitable, gainful employment are not awarded these benefits.” I don’t want to commit math but, that’s over half.

According to the report, a consequence of the new system of lump sum payments is that “Over 400 veterans are at risk of living their retirement years with insufficient income to sustain their pre-age-65 standard of living.” Probably due to the fact that the payments are less than Veterans used to get spread out over time, and capped bellow the maximum judges would award in a personal injury case.

The ‘Canadian Veterans Advocacy’ says that the Conservative’s Charter, “proved to be substandard at best and that creates a significant inequality between past, present, and future veterans.”

But wait. There’s more.

The Globe and Mail reported on Oct 3, that by 2014 the Conservatives are closing nine Veterans Affairs offices, including the one in Saskatoon. Veterans from all over the country are in Ottawa to protest this move.

We’re used to cuts from the Tories. This is nothing new. But Peter Mackay doesn’t pose for photo-ops with Limnologists, and Stephen Harper doesn’t describe Climate Scientists as “the greatest Canadians.” You’d think if anyone would be spared from the chopping block, it would be injured-in-duty War Veterans.

If a group you claim as your own, that you publicly embrace to win the hearts and minds of voters, is getting the shaft under a long existing system, you’re not culpable just because you are currently in charge. But if you change the system, and the affects of those changes are a lower standard of living for those men and women you claim to value so much, it is perfectly reasonable and not the least bit partisan to call BULLSHIT on your claimed allegiance.

Our Government doesn’t ‘Support the Troops’, they just use them as political props.

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