John Ivison, writing in the National Post, reports on a rumour (but one that I heard, from a source fairly close to the issue, a couple of days ago).
“Frustrated veterans took to Parliament Hill Thursday,” [November 9th] he reports, “saying the Liberals are on their last warning … [the veterans say that] … “They need to return to life-long pensions or their credibility with the veteran community will die,” said retired major Mark Campbell, who lost both legs in Afghanistan … [and, Mr Ivison goes on to explain that] … The words will have raised hairs on the back of Liberal necks … [because] … No group has the power to inflict damage on a sitting government in as devastating a fashion as irate veterans – as former Conservative minister Julian Fantino would testify. His career never recovered after he turned up late for a meeting with veterans and then stormed out when he was told he was talking “hogwash” … [and] … The Tories were never more derided than after the story broke that one double amputee said he was forced to prove to Veterans Affairs that his limbs hadn’t grown back.“
It was, of course a firm promise in 2015: “We will give veterans more compensation, more choice, and more support in planning their financial future … [the Liberal platform said, and, very explicitly] … We will re-establish lifelong pensions as an option for our injured veterans, and increase the value of the disability award. We will ensure that every injured veteran has access to financial advice and support so that they can determine the form of compensation that works best for them and their families.” Of course the Liberals never gave a damn about veterans, they were just shilling for votes with empty promises, and they shuffled that promise into the political never-never land, under the wheel chair of an inept minister whose only qualifications for a seat at the cabinet table are that he is a) another token ~ disabled and b) that rarest of creatures: a Liberal elected in Alberta.
But, says Mr Ivison, “In the last budget, the Liberals said they were developing these pensions and would announce details this calendar year … [but] … It seems the presence of veterans on the Hill was a reminder that they expect the promise to be honoured … [and] … It is understood that the promise soon will be – and it is expected to cost further billions, giving younger veterans like Mark Campbell the option of receiving tax-free monthly payments for the rest of his life, rather than a lump sum, capped at $360,000, that is on offer under the new veterans charter brought in with all-party parliamentary support in 2005.“
Now I objected to the New Veterans Charter when it was passed, with Conservative support by Paul Martin’s Liberal government. My objection was not to the provisions ~ the government, speaking for the nation, has a right and, indeed, a duty to make adequate provisions for veterans ~ provisions that are both appropriate and affordable. If military personnel then look at the benefits package and decide that it is inadequate they can retire and, similarly, young people need not join if they think that the people of Canada are niggardly with wounded soldiers. My objection was, and remains, simple: the New Veterans Charter is immoral. It was immoral when it was introduced and it remains immoral now because it changed the implicit terms of service of every man and woman who was serving the the CF the day it was passed into law and all those people should have, in 2005, been granted an option ~ as they and civil servants always have been when pension provisions are changed ~ to opt in or out of the new scheme. It was even worse because the Liberals introduced the New Veterans Charter when we had troops in combat ~ that compounded the immorality of the act.
In any event, John Ivison says that while “The plaintiffs can be forgiven for their anger at government duplicity in the case – Liberal MPs joined their colleagues from other parties in voting for a House of Commons motion affirming the government’s moral, social, legal and fiduciary obligation to veterans. Yet lawyers later disputed any “duty of care” principle, arguing the motion should not bind the federal government … [but] … The return to a life-long monthly pension plan will go a long way to restoring the social contract between Canada and the men and women it sends into harm’s way … [and] …The happy coincidence from the Liberal perspective is that the best part of $10 billion will likely buy them peace with a group that has brought previous governments to their knees.“
I have no doubt that if the Trudeau regime restores life long pensions they will be replacing an immoral Liberal act with one that is, simply, cynical. But cynical Liberal vote buying is somewhat, even markedly better than immoral laws, so … <shrug> …on balance it will be a good move, if the rumour is true.