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.