As the Harperites have abandoned veterans, cut postal service to seniors and insisted that everyone must bow in awe of the deficit, the silence of the Tory backbench has been remarkable. Michael Harris writes:
Why don’t these ordinary Conservative MPs speak out against the injustice of the so-called “universality of service” rule that declares injured soldiers unfit for duty and therefore unfit to serve? Retired general Romeo Dallaire has.
And why don’t they say something about the built-in disincentives for injured soldiers who are afraid to come forward for help — especially those suffering from mental distress? Soldiers know that 90 per cent of those who go to military support units for treatment end up getting the boot.
The truth is that, politically, there is an advantage to be had by speaking up for veterans:
What makes the Silence of the Cons so remarkable is that they have absolutely nothing to lose by standing up for veterans. In fact, they have a great deal to gain — and to give.
Think about it. Say you’re a backbencher who is never going anywhere on the ladder of blind ambition — not to cabinet, not to a parliamentary secretary’s job (with an extra fifteen grand), not even to a committee chairmanship. The only place you’re going is back home to face your constituents. And they all just saw you vote down an NDP motion to keep the veteran centres open. They’ll remember that — they can count, and numbers are bullshit-proof.
But they have sat -- or stood -- like department store manikins, forgetting the people who sent them to Ottawa. They owe the prime minister nothing:
When will it sink in (as it did with Brent Rathgeber) that Stephen Harper has no goodies for these backbenchers, no respect, no coattails to ride — and compromised conservative credentials? The prime minister is a dictatorial cult figure who has adopted the same goals and the worst instincts of the people he once insisted were undermining democracy. At a social level, he is deconstructing Canada while delivering the nation’s treasure to corporations.
Either Stephen Harper has struck them dumb -- or they are just plain dumb.