Recent Veterans Affairs funding debacle shines a light of truth

$1.3 billion dollars of returned veteran funds highlight Harper government incompetence

To the Expositor:

The November 19 release of 1.13 billion dollars of unspent monies returned to the treasury by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Minister of Veterans Affairs suddenly let the public, as well as our veterans, see that once again the Harper government has duped us. Naturally veterans vented their anger, because there are so many veterans and their families suffering and in need within this country, while VAC Minister Fantino and the Harper government has been sitting on this money as if it did not exist!

Further, this is not the first time this has happened. In September 2007, after announcing a $20,000 token payout for veterans who were suffering diseases caused by Agent Orange, it took over 10 years to make those payouts, then VAC tried to close the books with millions left unspent and veterans still trying to appeal the criteria used, of which we have a major case of veteran Jim McDonald trying to appeal, right here on Manitoulin Island.

Because Minister Fantino has had so many controversial issues when dealing with veterans, and because of his condescending and argumentative attitude, the War Pensioners of Canada, along with other veterans organizations, have asked for him to be replaced, the bottom line being that he obviously needs a few lessons diplomacy, but regardless of the unspent monies, he is not the man for that job.

An example of his manipulation of words after the release of the 1.13 billion, as reported in the Toronto Star, Minister Fantino stated: “It’s totally false in the context that its been portrayed…We are in no way shape or form disadvantaging veterans who does need our help.”

My reply to those comments is ‘tell it to the Marines Minister’ because we have three major cases of disadvantaged veterans on Manitoulin Island, several others in Sudbury, including triple-amputee veteran Bill Kerr, all of whom need additional help for themselves and their families. In Edmonton, there is double-amputee, Major Mark Campbell whom, along with other disabled veterans, has filed a class action lawsuit. This action comes on the heels of the successful lawsuit by Veteran Dennis Manuge, who sued the government and SISIP insurance to stop claw backs on monies paid to disabled veterans. The bottom line being that this government is not treating our veterans in a fair and just manner.

After the release of the $1.13 billion, look at the mad scramble for a CYA damage control meeting, where the outcome was: “Oh throw two million dollars back into the pot to cover PTSD and mental health issues over the next five years and that should quiet thing down.” Then only a few days later, it’s like; “Oh, on second thought, that two million dollars is taken a little out of context, it’s not over five years, it’s over the next 50 years.”

What better demonstrates the lack of forethought of that press release which got veterans hopes up followed by the flip-flopping of information and lack of concern for veterans’ feelings? The incompetence of the minister’s office and the political maneuvering by the Harper government leaves much to be desired because it appears they no longer know what the truth is anymore.

Submitted by,
Colin Pick, president/CEO
War Pensioners of Canada