Toronto – June 3, 2014 – Yet again, Conservative boss Stephen Harper and his Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino have shown their contempt for the men and women who have served our country in military service.
Earlier this year, the Conservative government closed eight veterans affairs offices across the country. In response, veterans arranged a meeting with Fantino to explain how these closures would negatively impact veterans. How did Fantino treat these concerned veterans? He showed up 70 minutes late and then rudely and callously dismissed their concerns. Instead of apologizing for the way the veterans were treated by his Minister of Defence, Harper then insulted the veterans even further by playing down their concerns.
In March of this year, Harper proclaimed a National Day of Honour for veterans of the war in Afghanistan, which took place on May 9. While it appeared like a nice gesture, families of Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan soon learned they were expected to attend the event on their own dime. Realizing this would be a political embarrassment for the government, Harper then backtracked. Harper also invited Canadians to celebrate the Day of Honour at their local Legion halls, yet failed to consult with the Legion about the event. In the end, it was obvious that the event was more about garnering publicity for Stephen Harper than actually honouring veterans.
Harper’s treatment of Canada’s veterans gets shoddier with each week that passes. Recently, Fantino refused to meet with the wife of a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Claude Rainville has PTSD as a result of serving in the Canadian military in Afghanistan and is now in need of constant 24 hour care.
Fantino’s refusal to meet with Jennifer Migneault, Mr. Rainville’s wife, came on the heels of a revelation that the government is spending more money on advertising services for Canadian veterans than it is on providing actual services for veterans to transition back to civilian life. The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending an additional $4 million on advertising, including television spots throughout the NHL playoffs, but is only increasing spending on transitional services for veterans by an astonishing $11,000 in this year’s budget.
For Conservative boss Harper, the priority for Veterans Affairs is clearly to help make his government look good rather than helping our veterans.