Unless they want to add complete hypocrisy to their many other shortcomings, members of the Harper base have much to consider these days, not least of which is their leader's contemptuous treatment of military veterans. The group Harper has been quite fond of using for propaganda purposes knows only too well how shabbily they have been treated upon their return from risky, some would say foolhardy, engagements abroad. Finally, if the veterans have their way, a day of reckoning is at hand.
Two veterans with combined service of 52 years, Tom Beaver and Ron Clarke, write that the upcoming election is the perfect opportunity for those who claim to support our vets to make their outrage felt. And they have much reason to feel outrage.
[We] did not come home to peace but to another battle, this time with Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.The veterans discovered they were dealing with a new enemy well-versed in a different kind of warfare:
Their shameful record of failure to properly support veterans in the last decade is well-documented.
Within weeks of entering office the Conservatives brought into law a bill which stripped from disabled soldiers the right to a lifetime pension. This was replaced by a woefully inadequate one-time lump-sum payment.
When veterans sought justice in the courts, the Conservatives spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to oppose us — saying there was no special obligation by government to its military personnel.
Despite documented evidence of increasingly longer waiting times, the Conservatives proceeded to kill 900 jobs, slash budgets and close nine veterans offices. Meanwhile, Veterans Affairs managers collected more than $500,000 in reward money for cutting costs.
More of us took our own lives than were killed in the entire Afghanistan War. The number of soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder has more than doubled. Yet getting timely help is very tough.
When veterans protested the cutbacks and the loss of meaningful pensions, the government tried to smear the courageous soldiers who were standing up. The government was caught circulating private medical records to politicians to discredit the veterans involved.Both Beaver and Clarke, however, are hopeful that redress is near:
Between 2006 and 2014, the Conservative government clawed-back more than $1 billion from money budgeted to take care of returning veterans.
The most recent poll by Insights West shows a startling 73 per cent of Canadians are dissatisfied with how the Conservative government has treated veterans. More surprising is that 64 per cent of Conservative voters in the 2011 election are dissatisfied, with 25 per cent of Conservative voters very dissatisfied.There are many reasons to get behind this movement. The gross mistreatment of veterans is one of them.
One-third of Conservative voters go one step further and say the lack of support of veterans is a “reason to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives” in this year’s federal election.
It is very encouraging that the poll shows so much support for better treatment for veterans, but there is only one survey that really counts for Canada’s veterans and that’s on Oct. 19.
On that day our organization, Canadian Veterans — Anyone But Conservative — Campaign 2015, is asking Canadians to support fair treatment and respect for veterans by voting for the candidate in your riding who has the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate.
For the sake of our country and our veterans, please join us and let’s work together to defeat Stephen Harper and his Conservative government.
UPDATE: Read veteran Harry Smith's thoughts on the Harper regime's mistreatment of veterans here.