The Supreme Court of Canada has, according to a CBC News report, refused “on Thursday to hear an appeal of … [a case brought by disgruntled wounded Afghan war veterans in which] … The high court was asked to consider hearing an appeal of a British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling last December which stated there was no obligation or “social covenant” in Canada to those who have served in the military.“
So, Justin Trudeau was right and veterans like Major Mark Campbell (no relation) who lost both legs in an enemy attack was “asking for more than we are able to give right now,” and “unlike aboriginal groups, there is no overarching legislation that puts a duty of care on the federal government when it comes to those who have served.” Of course the BC Court of Appeal was right to agree with the federal government that there is no “social covenant” to cover veterans. There was an implicit one in the 1920s and, again, in the late 1940s when veterans, themselves, and their families (and over 1,000,000 Canadians served in some capacity in 1939-45) voted for candidates who promised generous pension benefits. But some people think that everything is different now … the men like retired Major Campbell and retired infantry Corporal Brock Blaszczyk who lost one leg are ‘professional soldiers’ and, in the minds of some bureaucratic bean counters, they are more than adequately compensated for risk, and there are already generous support programmes for injured workers. This attitude began, I think, to take hold in the bureaucracy in the 1980s, after it became clear that Canada might do things a little more “robust” that old fashioned, Lester B Pearson inspired, baby-blue beret type peacekeeping. Some bureaucrats worried that a new generation of veterans would emerge who would have greater needs than before ~ because technologically advanced evacuation and treatment techniques mean that men who would have died in World War II or Korea would return home and require much different (and more costly) care. The ‘advantage’ would be that they would be fewer in number ~ not a potent political force as the veterans had been in 1921 and 1945 elections ~ and, being professional soldiers would not have the “undying gratitude” of the nation at their backs. Under those circumstances, Prime Minister Trudeau’s comments, made early this year to Mr Blaszczyk …
… make some sense. And it wasn’t just Liberal policy … the original fight began against the former Conservative Government on whose watch the New Veterans Charter came into force, in 2006 (although it was passed by Paul Martin’s Liberal government in 2005).
The bureaucrats and beancounters and their government lawyers probably shared a quiet, private ‘high five’ after the decision was announced. They were right and an immoral law is made legal and proper.