July 16th, 2024

Take care of our veterans

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 19, 2017.

It is becoming clearer and clearer the Trudeau Liberal government is dragging its feet over restoration of lifetime pensions for Canadian veterans inflicted with lifetime injuries in the line of duty. While more than willing to throw away hundreds of millions of Canadian taxpayer money to the prime minister’s pet causes overseas so he can look good on the world stage, the Liberals have found it incredibly inconvenient to fulfill this election promise from 2015.

This represents a moral failure on two fronts for the Liberal government if they fail to follow through. First, the Liberals will have outright lied to veterans and the Canadian public when they promised to restore lifetime pensions. The current proposal the Liberals are mulling, according to multiple sources, is one where the lump-sum payments assigned through the guidelines of the New Veterans Charter would be kept unchanged; they would just be dolled out in monthly sums as opposed to one big lump sum. This is clearly not what the Liberals promised, or what Canadians understood in 2015, when the party said it would completely restore lifetime, fully-funded pensions for wounded veterans.

Secondly, the Liberals are thinking of continuing the former Conservative government’s legal fight against a group of wounded Afghanistan soldiers who are suing the government for paying them less than they would have received if injured in a workplace accident at Walmart, for example, because they were reservists and not full-time soldiers at the time of their injuries. One of those soldiers involved in that lawsuit is former Medicine Hat resident Cpl. Bradley Darren Quast, who went to court because he was assessed in 2012 under the New Veterans Charter $42,000 for the permanent impairment of his leg, an injury sustained in an IED attack in Afghanistan.

The reservists argue in their suit the Canadian government has a constitutional responsibility to look after the severely wounded veterans it ordered off to war in the first place. It’s an argument the former Harper government rejected, to the widespread condemnation of Canadians. The Liberals seem poised to take over where Conservatives left off, denying any moral or legal responsibility to take care of wounded soldiers in the wars they declare.

There is no ambiguity here. If a soldier is wounded in the line of duty to this country so severely he or she is disabled for life, the country has a moral obligation to ensure that soldier is taken care of for the rest of his or her life. Yes, there is a price tag attached to that. But one would hazard to guess the total payout over those soldiers’ lifetimes, in an era of smaller scale wars, wouldn’t amount to the cost of three F-18 Superhornet jetfighters. We managed for Second World War and Korean War veterans to do the right thing for over 70 years, and there were many more of them.

Any dollars and cents argument the Liberals can make on this way issue will never add up, and to attempt to make such arguments is an insult to our veterans. What’s the loss of your leg worth to you spread over a lifetime? It’s only $42,000 if you asked the Conservatives back in 2013/2014. Let’s see of the Liberals are half as smart, and a quarter as smugly self-righteous, as they think they are. This issue can correctly be termed a test of moral character for this still young Liberal government; one which two Canadian governments before it have already failed.

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

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