All posts in category C4A Editorial

Big gap between Liberal rhetoric and action on veterans issues

By Sean Bruyea

Veterans and Canadians better stop holding their breath. Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr is way behind schedule and doesn’t have the oomph to fulfill his mandate letter. Ultimately, Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal government will be charged and condemned for this bungling of veterans’ issues.

When broken down, Minister Hehr’s mandate letter listed 23 or so priority promises. Of those, one year into the mandate, only two have been fully implemented and another partially.

Injured veterans are in the process of receiving income-loss payments increased from 75 to 90 per cent of military salary. Also, the annual cap at two per cent has been removed, allowing the annual income to keep pace with the consumer price index. As for the partially fulfilled promises: the first of nine Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) district offices has opened with a lengthy timetable for the remaining eight.

There is little excuse for delay for most other promises. It costs little to “end the time limit for surviving spouses to apply for vocational rehabilitation and assistance services.” Some cost more but are straightforward such as “increase the veteran survivor’s pension from 50 to 70 per cent.” Considering just more than 53,000 “survivors” currently collect pensions and approximately 3,000 sadly pass away each year, time is of the essence.… Read the rest

Birkenfeld believes there’s at least $1-billion in federal unpaid taxes in Canada

By Allan Cutler

For the past four years, I have been attempting to get Bradley Birkenfeld to come to Canada and assist the Canadian government by testifying and providing valuable documentation regarding the illegal off-shore industry. Birkenfeld believes that there is at least $1-billion in federal unpaid taxes in Canada.

Birkenfeld was an American banker working in Switzerland. As a whistleblower, he exposed the largest and longest running tax fraud by Americans using off-shore accounts. The unprecedented results were shocking and ultimately he received an award of $104-million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since more than $5-billion of unpaid taxes were recovered. In keeping with the fine traditions of the U.S.A., the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecuted him (and only him) for the exact revelations that had resulted in this award. The absolutely false argument made by the DOJ was that he withheld a client name from them. In any event, he received a criminal record and a 31-month jail term for the historic and courageous actions.

The story does not end there. Birkenfeld has been instrumental in the massive fraud investigation against the Swiss Banks and the further release of names of tax evaders by Swiss authorities. To this day, Birkenfeld continues to fight this corruption and has helped a number of foreign governments to recover what is rightly owed them.… Read the rest

Why Canada needs to pry open the doors of the legion’s headquarters

Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Sean Bruyea

The national leadership of the Royal Canadian Legion faces a crisis in confidence with its membership along with Canada’s veterans. All Canadians should be concerned with this, given the legion’s responsibility for the poppy symbol and the millions donated as a result.

The legion once actively and assertively advocated for the rights of veterans and their families. The community work performed by many local branches is highly commendable. Provincial Commands, without consideration of personal reward or enrichment, have frequently launched innovations to assist veterans such as homeless-shelter programs.

In contrast, paid senior leadership at national headquarters, known as Dominion Command and located in a suburb of Ottawa, is at risk of being perceived as out of touch with not just veterans but legion membership. Much of the blame for plummeting membership can be placed directly on the leadership’s shoulders.

Why should veterans care about how the legion manages its affairs? After all, of the legion’s about 254,000 paid members on June 1, 62,000 are listed as “ordinary” members. This category includes those who served in Canada’s military but also retired and serving members of the RCMP, civilian police forces, armed forces of all 28 NATO nations, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard.… Read the rest