Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Stigma Within Themselves

Yesterday, the Harper Party defeated an NDP motion to reverse the closure of Veterans Affairs Offices across the country. Julian Fantino has been the face of the government on this issue. But now it's clear that there are 145 other MPs -- including the prime minister -- who stand behind him. What Michael Harris writes of Fantino applies to all 146 of them:

The very important man seemed to have forgotten that at least one of the veterans he stood up at that meeting was fighting fascists before Julian got his first pair of shiny boots. The minister was not talking to a bunch of office go-fers, but the senior partners of the Conservative party’s core support.

The Harperites send others off to war. But they know nothing of it and the scars it leaves behind:

Harper marketed the Afghanistan War — then forgot about its veterans.

Eight suicides in their ranks in a matter of weeks says something is dreadfully wrong. Where are the 447 mental health workers promised a decade ago when the government was busy promoting the war?
What happens if a soldier doesn’t have his ten years in before he suffers a “catastrophic” injury? Why can’t a vet be found who agrees with the new Veterans Charter and its one-time-only payment, intended to get the gum of a ruined life off the shoe of government?

For former sergeant major Barry Westholm, the final straw came when Harper MP Cheryl Gallant opined that, for soldiers with PTSD, "the stigma was within themselves." Westhom resigned from the party. There will be more resignations.

Most certainly, there is a stigma. But it's not within the veterans. Behold the Harper government -- small minded and led by a very small man.


bcwaterboy said...

It's beginning to strike me as very odd Owen how harper and his clones don't hesitate to turn their backs on their supporters so abruptly. One would hope that the Veterans are the last straw, but there's still that 30 odd % who think the lavish trip to Isreal was a good thing at a time when we're being told to tighten our belts and live with less.

Ron S. said...

Of course. Only the gutless send others off to fight the battles the gutless start. Cowards all.

Owen Gray said...

It really is remarkable, waterboy, how a man who demands absolute loyalty turns on his own. From Garth Turner through to Nigel Wright, there is a long record of betrayal.

Unfortunately, some people are easy marks. And Harper knows how to spot them.

Owen Gray said...

Very few of them could make it through boot camp, Ron.

rumleyfips said...

A century ago a bunch of English elitists ( PM, cabinet,general staff ) idled in London clubs while the slaughter in the trenches went on. They considered the Tommies canon fodder, whose decimation was worth it to further their political, economic and social asperations.

Harper, Fantino and our little tin star generals act in a remarkably similar way.

Owen Gray said...

And history continues to repeat itself, rumley.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Harper would apparently turn his back on a group that probably mostly vote Conservative.

I have wondered how many of these veterans supported Harper when he called Layton "Taliban Jack" or Dion/Liberals "Taliban Lover" or something like that?

Is Harper pursuing a scorched earth policy or is he so confident that he does not need these peoples' votes in 2015 (because the new ridings guarantee his victory)?

Owen Gray said...

I've always thought the claim that Harper is a master strategist was self generated, Anon.

To my mind, he owes much of his success to good luck. And it may be that his luck is running out.

e.a.f. said...

Lets hope someone is recording the cons antics now to be used in the election, 2015.

the Veterans, like so many others have outlived their usefulness and can be tossed aside. What has been done to them, is awful. However, when Harper threw the First Nations children, under the bus, the Veterans ought to have asked themselves, will he do this to us also. If a politician is willing to throw away one group of rather "defenseless" people, they will do it to another group later.

However, it is to be hoped the veterans remember this when the next election comes along and go out and reminds voters of what happened to them.

ffd said...

I thought Harper "won" because of the spinelessness of Canadians, the tendency to collaborate with anyone in power, the mental laziness and complacency. Harper "won" by a tiny margin - about 6,000 votes. That tiny margin was probably the results of robocalls and other dirty tricks. Canadians should have been marching in the streets, outraged. Instead they didn't want to talk about it. I know because I tried to talk about it for two years. Many Canadians react so little that it is very hard to know what they care about. When rights are taken away, as when the pensionable age was raised to 67, maybe they don't care. When unemployment benefits are cut back bit by bit, do they care? They should but maybe they don't.

Others, like many of the veterans, vote for the Tories. I am sorry they are such fools but they will have to get on with the results of their choice. I am tired of right wing types who suddenly expect us all to turn into the socialists they so despise when they get into trouble.

Owen Gray said...

Certainly the men who tried to meet with Fantino won't take this lying down, e.a.f. The Harperites are used to having people bow before their will.

My guess is that Vets won't bow.

Owen Gray said...

There is always a tipping point, ffd. You're right. We should have reached that point a long time ago.

And it's the delay which I suspect has led Harper and Co. to do what they have done.

But this may be the tipping point.

Anonymous said...

Why would Harper care if he does lose votes?

The US, Mexico and Canada have been working on the NAU for years now. Big business has been pushing for the NAU, forever. Big business only wants one government to deal with, rather than three. Big business wants a huge cheap labor pool, which they will have when the three countries merge.

Harper doesn't care about votes because, if there is another election? Harper has already won it.

The 3 Amigo's are having another meeting this month.

Owen Gray said...

It's quite true that Harper assumes he'll win the next election, Anon. But he's not the first prime minister to make that assumption. Nor is he the first to be proved wrong.