Almost two years ago the Supreme Court of Canada drove a final nail into the coffin of an attempt by wounded veterans to hold the government to a “social covenant” which, they argued, had been established during the First World War.
The highest court in the land, Murray Brewster wrote (first link) “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.” It declined and, as usual, did not explain why.
There was, I am 100% certain, a huge sigh of relief in the senior ranks of the bureaucracy. It’s not that the senior bureaucrats dislike veterans ~ far from it, I think ~ their problem was (still is) that if the courts ever find that any group has a binding “social covenant,” in effect a political “contract” with any group, no matter how deserving, then hundreds, even thousands of groups will be lined up, all making the same, often heartbreaking, plea.
The heartbreaking part matters because now I read, it’s the estimable Murray Brewster, again, writing for CBC News, that Charles Scott, a former infantry soldier who served in both Bosnia and Afghanistan “fell through the cracks,” something that critics of the Trudeau government say happens far more often and far too often now that the government is “off the hook,” so to say. It’s a sad story; it’s a story that makes me angry and should make all Canadians angry at Justin Trudeau and at Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. Again, it’s not that the Trudeau regime dislikes veterans … it’s worse, they don’t care. They don’t care because there is no political advantage in caring. The veterans’ votes, they believe, are split. While Canada’s mismanagement the whole veterans’ benefits file started in 2005, when Paul Martin was the prime minister, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it worse by appointing the really creepy and personally cowardly Julian Fantino to run the department; it got worse when Prime Minister Trudeau appointed, first, the inept Kent Hehr and then the lazy recovering alcoholic Seamus O’Regan to the role. Mr MacAulay is a gem compared to those three bums. In 2015 there was, and a core still exists, a formal group of veterans who said, anyone but Harper. That worked to the Liberals‘ advantage; a lot of veterans are still anti-Conservative thanks to Julian Fantino. Then veterans’advocate and retired colonel Pat Stogran came out fo the NDP, and some veterans followed. The end result is that the veterans’ vote, never large since the Second World War generation has passed away, is now irrelevant and the Liberals, quite simply, don’t give a damn about them.
It’s too bad that Colonel (ret’d) Stogran didn’t stand for election for the NDP. The Conservatives tried to recover, when Erin O’Toole was, briefly (for about seven months in 2015), Veterans Affairs Minister, but the need to recover from the Great Recession and balance the budget was Stephen Harper’s top (only?) priority. Now, the Liberals don’t have to worry; they don’t have to give a damn … and they don’t.
A series of weak ministers and a stressed bureaucracy means that the very real problems faced by veterans, like Charles Scott are being ignored. They shouldn’t be. Canada should do better. The courts have spoken. There is no binding “social covenant,” but, surely, there is a moral one, isn’t there?