December 15th, 2017

PM should show leadership for injured veterans

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on December 6, 2017.

It is outrageous in the extreme that military men and women have been effectively told if you go to war and get permanently injured in battle fighting for your country you are on your own. That is basically what the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday in one big screw you to six former army reservists, including Medicine Hat’s Bradley Quast, who have fought for the past six years to overturn the Harper government’s New Veterans’ Charter.

The most controversial aspect of the Charter allowed the government to take away lifetime disability pensions from injured Afghanistan War and peacekeeping era veterans in favour of one-time, lump-sum payments which were substantially below what an employee in any civilian job would be awarded for a similar loss of function, or in cases of traumatic disability.

That the newly-elected Trudeau government did not immediately pull the plug on the case and fulfill its election promises to restore full, life-time pensions is the height of hypocrisy. Trudeau seems willing to apologize and pay out tens of millions in compensation for every perceived historical, social wrong Canada has ever done while perpetuating a new historical wrong on these men and women who served our country faithfully, and who have sacrificed the wholeness of their bodies for the sake of patriotism and duty.

The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the Canadian government, which sets military policy, declares war and determines how many soldiers and resources get put into the field, does not have any social covenant with the men and women who serve — in other words, the government has, according to this three-judge panel, no moral or constitutional responsibility to help its soldiers after their military service ends, or to see they are taken care of if permanently disabled as a result of their service once the lump-sum payment is made. Frankly, this is a load of horse turd, and directly contravenes the spirit of the law if not its letter.

Hopefully, the B.C. Court of Appeal will allow these veterans the opportunity to appeal to a higher court, the Supreme Court of Canada.

Or even better, if the Prime Minister of Canada would actually show some true moral leadership on this issue and bring in new policies, including lifetime pensions for those disabled in the line of duty, and do right by these six veterans, and, by extension, all veterans across this nation both now and in the years to come.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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