Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Targeting General Leslie

Andrew Cohen acknowledges at the beginning of his latest column that he is a friend of retired general Andrew Leslie:

(A note: I have known Leslie, his wife and children for 10 years. We’re friends).

That said, he then reviews the facts:

As part of their severance, those who serve 20 years or more are offered a last move, at government expense, after they retire. Soldiers are asked to live in many places; the policy recognizes that the house you occupy at the end of your career may not be where you want to remain.

Leslie served 35 years at home and abroad and moved 18 times. When he left the military in 2011, he wanted to simplify things. He moved from a bigger house to a small one, in the same neighbourhood. The move cost some $72,000, of which the real estate fees could have come to perhaps $60,000. The rest went to packing and moving.

If Leslie -- like retired General Lewis Mackenzie -- had sided with the Harperites, there would have been no problem. However,

Andy Leslie is a Liberal. His father was a Liberal. His service notwithstanding, that displeases the government. Tell us, Minister Nicholson, would you have ordered an inquiry if Leslie had been running as a Conservative? Would your question have been as sharp, your anger as hot?

Could it be that Leslie’s expenses would never have found their way into the media at all? And could it be that the Conservatives wanted Leslie to join them, when they learned that he was going to the Liberals? Let us see this for what it is: a drive-by smear.

This is the party which spread rumours by phone that Irwin Cotler was retiring -- two years before he did retire. This is the party which aired commercials of puffins pooping on Stephane Dion's shoulder. This is the party which proclaimed that Micheal Ignatieff had returned to Canada -- but "not for you."

We know how Mr. Harper and his acolytes play the game. Cohen correctly concludes:

As we disparage a decorated general, seeing scandal that isn’t there, consider the greater affront of a government that tolerates a minister, Julian Fantino, who insults veterans as he cuts their services. Now there’s gratitude.

Then ask yourself why Andrew Leslie and other good people would even contemplate entering our soiled, sorry public life.

Under Stephen Harper, public life in Canada has become a boil -- an infection, not a vocation.


Anonymous said...

$72K sounds outrageous for a move across town until one realizes that the cost includes real estate and legal fees. Therefore, the problem seems to be with the policy. The costs to taxpayers of this policy were flagged by the AG back in 2006. If Leslie had been a Conservative or had supported this government, I doubt this would have become an issue.

However, I do not think the military should be paying for real estate fees at retirement time. Many people are forced to relocate where the jobs are without the above benefits when they retire.

Personally, I have no problems with these benefits for a long serving (20 years), active, military personnel forced to relocate, but even then it should be capped at a certain amount.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that the amount should be capped, Anon. But, as subsequent stories have proved, there are many others who have availed themselves of the benefit.

Leslie was singled out because, in the government's eyes, he belongs to the wrong party.

Lorne said...

Clearly, Owen, General Leslie has become part of that ever-growing fraternity known as the Harper Enemies List. He should feel proud.

Owen Gray said...

I'm reminded of what Paul Newman said when he discovered that he was on Richard Nixon's enemies list, Lorne.

"I consider it," he said, "one of my greatest achievements."

e.a.f. said...

it was some what entertaining for the cons to bring up General leslie's retirement relocation allowance. It was like, so was he the first one to ever receive the money? Oh, no he wasn't. You mean all those other people received it also and all on the cons watch. O.K. the cons just don't like General Leslie and want to cause problems for Trudeau, the younger. those idiots have over done this one a bit too often., Most Canadians are on to the cons and the games they play. this one might just come back to bite them in the ass.

I don't have a problem for military people being given one last move, to where they want to live. They all spent the previous so many years moving where they didn't always want to be. Just consider it part of the severance package. whatever these military people received they worked for it, unlike so many con m.p.s and senators on the gravy train.

Owen Gray said...

The Harperites love to wave the flag, e.a.f. But they treat veterans with contempt.

General Leslie is just the latest example of their contempt.