As we celebrate our good fortune today, we would do well to remember this country's veterans. Stephen Harper rode to power espousing a new militarism. But, Jeffrey Simpson writes, Harper and Co only love the military in theory. They don't put their money where their mouths are:
Capital spending on military equipment has declined four years in a row and remains on a downward trend. As a share of the defence budget, capital spending has dropped to the lowest level since 1977-78.
These arresting facts, and others, were recently unveiled in a paper by David Perry, senior security and defence analyst for the Ottawa-based Conference of Defence Associations Institute. He notes that the defence budget became the sitting duck for the government’s deficit-reduction strategy. Defence cuts accounted for a quarter of the overall drop in government spending in the 2014 budget.
And those who have returned from battle have been forgotten. Anne Bergeron-Oliver reports that there has been a spike in homeless veterans:
The number of homeless people identified by Veterans Affairs Canada has skyrocketed over the last five years, jumping from just 35 in 2009-2010 to 236 last year.
But the true figure could be much higher. Experts suggest there could be thousands of veterans living on the streets yet to be located by government and volunteer organizations. A City of Toronto report released last year revealed that 16 per cent of the 447 people sleeping on Toronto’s streets identified themselves as veterans.
“It’s quite shocking,” said NDP Veterans critic Peter Stoffer. “How many more have not been identified?.
Sometimes a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words. Julian Fantino provided that picture as he hustled away, in order to avoid a confrontation with Jenny Migneault, whose husband suffers from PTSD:
“Mr. Fantino, I’m just a vet’s spouse,” she shouted at the minister. “You’re forgetting us, once more. We’re nothing to you.”
But, then, what would you expect from a cabal of armchair warriors? We must do more for our veterans -- starting today.