The Harperites are always hell bent on going to war -- as long as someone else is willing to fight it. They are hoping to win the next election on the meme that they protect Canadians. But they don't do the protecting. Canada's veterans are tasked with that job. And Harper's treatment of veterans is appalling. Tasha Kheiriddin writes:
While terrorism is good business for the Tories, they continue to fail the people who fought it on the frontlines — Canada’s veterans.
Just last week, the case of former master corporal Paul Franklin, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, made news again for all the wrong reasons. Franklin’s defenders, including comedian Rick Mercer, tore Veterans Affairs Canada to shreds in early 2015 for demanding that the former soldier prove every year that his legs were still missing, to qualify for a government-funded wheelchair.
So Pierre Lemieux, parliamentary secretary to the Veterans Affairs minister, announced on February 27 a mindbogglingly insensitive change in policy: Franklin and similarly disabled vets will instead have to provide proof every three years that they are still disabled — that their missing limbs have not miraculously grown back. If they don’t, the federal government could, for example, repossess their wheelchairs — as it has done to Franklin twice in the past.
Governments take on the characteristics of their leaders. And so, the Harper government is Stephen Harper personified -- paranoid and devoid of people skills:
Also in the past week, the public learned that the Tories had shelved a survey of veterans’ satisfaction with government services. Last conducted in 2010, VAC’s “national client survey” found that while veterans of older conflicts were generally satisfied with the department’s performance, vets who served in more recent conflicts such as Afghanistan were not. Satisfaction levels among those modern-day veterans had dropped from 80 per cent in 2007 to 68 per cent in 2010.
The survey was scheduled to be repeated in 2012-13. That never happened. The government decided to skip it — an irresponsible decision for several reasons. When a study shows a marked decline in satisfaction, it’s a good idea to conduct a follow-up to find out if what you’re looking at is a blip or a trend. And the Conservatives have profoundly changed the way services are delivered to vets by closing offices and moving to a Service Canada and online access model; one would assume Ottawa would want to know how that’s working out.
But Mr. Harper doesn't want to know how things are working out. He only wants to know whether or not he'll win the upcoming election. Charles Dickens would recognize him immediately, just as he recognized an earlier character:
But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
For Stephen Harper and Ebeneezer Scrooge, money counts. People don't.