Friday, December 5, 2014

Veterans' 100 years: Canada 'promises made to the ear are being broken to the hope'

 In the Province newspaper this morning there was an article providing a step forward on behalf of our armed forces personnel and then in a blink of an eye, the newspaper inserted an abbreviated typeset, lower case, lack of Ink, or a column's width ....   "Vets need .......".

Veterans need!

In a 2008 CBC 'Hockey Night in Canada' broadcast, Don Cherry laid into a fellow journalist for shortening Memorial to simply Mem.
(Cherry's family history: One grandfather was a Mountie who had to defend against Whiskey traders, and another fought at Vimy Ridge in the World War I.  Explains a bit about how he ALWAYS mentions soldiers and chastises those who say "Mem" Cup instead of Memorial Cup.)
The Memorial Cup was proposed by Captain James T. Sutherland during World War I, who wanted to create a trophy as a memorial to remember the OHA's players who died during the war. When the trophy was created, it was dedicated in honour of the soldiers who died fighting for Canada in the war. It was rededicated during the 2010 tournament to honour all soldiers who died fighting for Canada in any conflict.
The Province's headline punch of   VET   brought me up to attention thinking that Health Minister Terry Lake was about to have the riot act read out to him in regards to the firings of the health researchers in 2012.   Terry Lake, if you are unaware, is a certified Veterinarian, a 'Vet' without front line duties. 

2014  The Province:
Wounded war vets need special rights in the same way as aboriginals

Veterans deserve special treatment under the constitution in the same way aboriginals are guaranteed unique rights, a lawyer for six soldiers injured in Afghanistan has told British Columbia's top court.

The federal government is obligated to make good on nearly century-old promises to care for the only citizens it orders into possible death while fighting to make "our country possible," Don Sorochan told a trio of judges as he disputed that aboriginals are the only extraordinary case.

"The politicians acknowledge this. They stand by the cenotaphs," Sorochan said Thursday in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

"And yet we have an argument raised here ... that veterans are only entitled to whatever benefits the Parliament of the day may deem to be necessary. ........"
  - Tamsyn Burgmann - Canadian Press

Of Copies of Resolution Presented to the Premier and Members of the Executive by a Large Gathering of War Veterans, Patriotic and other Associations at the Parliament Buildings, April 10th, 1918.

Premier's Office,
11th April, 1918.
John Oliver,

Inasmuch as the delegates of the returned soldiers who went to Ottawa recently to confer with Sir Robert Borden and his colleagues in matters of vital importance in this crucial time of the Empire's history have come a way from that conference in several instances disappointed men.

Their disappointment will be shared by many and the feeling is widespread that promises made to the ear are being broken to the hope. It was known to the Government that the returned men had considered questions with regard to "enemy aliens," with respect to the conscription of men of alien races, and other matters of equal importance. The Government recognized the fact that the War Veterans were men who would debate these questions with tact, judgment, and experience, and, more than that, their sufferings and their sacrifices would give them a status for the expression of opinion which could not be ignored, but deserved and demanded consideration, and the Government, as was to be expected, very rightly asked the War Veterans to bring the result of their deliberations before them.

This has been done, and the result has been that for the present, at any rate, the War Veterans must bear the disappointment that "the Government is unable to accept their proposals."

There is not a returned man who is not alive to the difficulties and clangers of the complicated questions which now confront the Governments in all parts of the Empire.  However, it was decided at a meeting of all returned men, held in this city on April 6th, that a public demonstration is necessary, and that all bodies interested in the enemy alien question should be asked to take part in the demonstration, and also to adopt the resolution as set forth. .....................

 Is the government paying bonuses to VAC officials to cut services?

Fri, Dec 5: There was a contentious point raised in Question Period Friday as opposition MPs claimed the government has been paying Veterans Affairs Canada officials to cut jobs and services.

December 9, 2014
Pete McMartin: Disabled veterans’ rights a matter of law, or justice?

The federal government risks political backlash by treating injured vets like liabilities>

...... “When members of the Canadian Forces put on the uniform of their country,” the suit’s statement of claim argued, “they make an extraordinary personal commitment to place the welfare of others ahead of their personal interests, to serve Canada before self and to put themselves at risk, as required, in the interests of the nation. A veteran, whether regular or reserve, active or retired, is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank cheque made payable to ‘the Government of Canada,’ for an mount of ‘up to and including their life.’ This commitment to make the ultimate sacrifice reflects their honour in the service of their country.”

As proof of an existing covenant, the statement of claim cited a 1917 speech by Prime Minister Robert Borden during the First World War: “The government and the country will consider it their first duty,” Borden said, “to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.” .......


But here is the thing:

It’s a shame this case had to go to court in the first place. There are things worth keeping in the New Veterans Charter, but appraising the trauma of disabled veterans as you might an insurance claim — in which payouts are prorated according to the severity of a veteran’s wounds, as if losing a leg was akin to fender bender — is not one of them. Veterans are not liabilities on an actuarial table. The government should either have upped the amount of the lump sum payments substantially, as other countries have, or scrapped them altogether in favour of lifetime pensions.

The judgment in the BC Court of Appeal isn’t expected until some time in the new year.
If the government does win its case in court, I’d suggest it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

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