At a recent town hall meeting in Edmonton, a veteran asked the Prime Minister why the government was fighting veterans in court, despite promising not to do so during the election campaign. The Prime Minister told the former soldier, who lost his leg in Afghanistan, that veterans were asking for “more than we can give right now”.
Unsurprisingly, Canadians were shocked at the Prime Minister’s comments. During the 2015 election, the Liberals made many promises to veterans. One was a promise to re-establish life-long pensions for veterans. He promised that vets would not have to fight their own government for the support and compensation they earned. He promised that he would make it easier for veterans to access services. Now that he won, he is going back on his word. The Liberal government, like any government, has an obligation to care for our veterans.
The most disturbing thing is that the Prime Minister found a way to pay Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist, $10.5 million. But when a Canadian solider, who lost his leg in the course of duty, asks the Prime Minister and his Liberal government to fulfil their promises, Justin Trudeau coldly says that he won’t help. Justin Trudeau needs to make things right with veterans by following through on his commitments and he needs to apologize for the unacceptable comments he made in Edmonton.
Conservatives fully recognize the immense contributions of veterans to our freedom and security, and ensuring services and benefits is a priority for our party. During our time in office, our previous Conservative government increased veterans’ benefits by 35%. Our efforts included improving frontline services for veterans, providing funding for injured veterans’ vocational rehabilitation, education, and training, and increasing the quantity of case managers and new frontline staff to improve processing times.
More recently, Conservative MP John Brassard put a bill before Parliament that sought to have the principles of a Military Covenant placed in legislation for the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Government of Canada to follow. The Liberals voted against it, despite unanimous support for the bill from all opposition parties. The bill proposed to add three principles that the Minister would have to take into consideration in each decision:
1. Veterans, as well as their families and survivors, be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness;
2. Veterans and their duties are unique among Canadians. There is an obligation to care for veterans because of sacrifices made by them. The obligation extends to the experiences of their families;
3. The care, treatment and transition of Canadian Armed Forces in and to civil life are dealt with in a timely manner.
It was disheartening to see the Prime Minister and his Liberal government choose not to support this common-sense and fair legislation. He needs to do more for our veterans and it starts with an apology for his outrageous comments.