On November 11, I led the Trail Pipe Band down the street with the veterans, the RCMP, the 44th Engineers Squadron 39CER, cadets and numerous young people in our many local organizations to and from the Cenotaph.
We were all there to remember those who served, and those who gave their lives, and those who returned to our community affected by the horrors of war.
This week, I and many others learned that the Harper government has reclaimed over a billion dollars from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pad their good news fiscal report, and to pay off the wealthiest 15 per cent of Canadians with a tax giveaway on income splitting.
My comrades in the Legion are constantly engaged in fund-raising exercises to support veterans of all ages; to build a fund to give support to those of meagre means, and especially our younger veterans who have returned from Afghanistan, and are challenged in their return to normal life with both physical and mental injuries.
I consider the action by the Harper Government to be one more slap in the face of all veterans.
As you are also aware, almost all of the local members of the 44th Engineers Squadron are not full-time soldiers.
They are members of the reserve forces, who take time to train, and be ready, should they get the call to serve our country. As you may be aware the soldier gunned down in Ottawa on October 22, was also a member of the reserves.
The Harper Government was publicly embarrassed by the compensation package that Corporal Cirillo’s family was entitled to; and made a ‘special’ case to award his family something more appropriate.
According to the press, the last three Veterans’ ombudsmen have asked for, and lobbied the minister to change the regulations so that there would be no difference between the survivor’s benefits for members of the regular forces, and members of the reserves serving our country. They have been ignored.
I am disgusted by the actions of this Conservative government, which uses the photo ops with our forces for their own shoddy political games; and deserts those same men and women when they need help the most.
I would ask your readers to write a letter directly to Prime Minister Harper and Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, or use this online link: http://www.legion.ca/call-for-action-on-the-new-veterans-charter/, to express your feelings about this.
I would also ask you to reconsider who you would support, if you were at all thinking of voting for the Conservative Party candidate, next year.
Lest we Forget,
J. Gordon Titsworth