There has been no shortage of excuses and red herrings from government to avoid making substantive improvements in the lives of Canada’s veterans and their families. This inaction has catalyzed veterans’ communities to forge a near unanimous game plan. Government has merely chosen to play another sport.
Once upon a time, government had an easy game going. It could count on the deep rivalry between veterans’ organizations to divide and conquer. Groups were quite willing to side with government against other organizations as each lobbied for their special interests behind closed doors. In the end, government was free to do little in pushing through a 50-year agenda which essentially abandoned Canadian Forces (CF) veterans and their families.
Unsightly infighting was greatly aggravated by dozens of policies and programs which each created multiple classes and subclasses of veterans. The veterans ombudsman has identified 15 categories of veterans in the long-term care program alone. The much-revered military comradeship often drove veterans of one military campaign to disparage those from other campaigns. In this hostile environment, CF veterans remained further relegated to a policy backseat.
The passage of the New Veterans Charter (NVC) in 2005 promised to change this. Government explicitly guaranteed that the legislation was a “living charter” with regular reviews and improvements to follow.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on March 3, 2014
The following letter was recently sent to the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Economy, in reference to recent reports requiring Parliamentary staff to sign a lifetime gag order.
To the Committee on Internal Economy:
It is our understanding that the Conflict of Interest, Loyalty and Confidentiality Agreement will be reviewed by the Committee on Internal Economy.
We understand the need for confidentiality. Discussions, whether in business, the public sector or in politics, are often considered confidential. There is nothing wrong with the premise. Should you want to regard your need for confidentiality as unique, “… the unique nature of my employment and, in particular, the politically sensitive and partisan environment…”, that is your prerogative. We would point out that everyone considers their situation has ‘unique’ circumstances.
However the policy, as written, goes well beyond the need for confidentiality. It is designed to cover-up any misconducts, abuse of process or people, corruption and wrong-doing. There are three items of concern.
1. According to clause 8, this is a life time prohibition. Most agreements have a sunset clause. Even the most confidential government documents are often considered open after fifty years. Many businesses have a limit of time placed on them. It would appear that a time of five years, similar to the lobbying situation, would be deemed acceptable.
… Read the rest
Posted by Ian Bron on February 26, 2014
Military veteran Alfie Burt recently questioned Minister Julian Fantino’s insistence on closing nine Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offices, “What the frig is wrong with that guy?”
To be fair, the same question can easily be asked of various Ministers and the most senior VAC bureaucrats over the past eight years. However, closure of VAC offices has become another incendiary device condescendingly tossed into the national outrage as to how Canada’s veterans are mistreated by government.
At issue is Ottawa’s effort to balance the books irrespective of veteran outcry. Problematically, Veterans Affairs, unlike most other federal departments did not have a significant hiring surge when the Conservatives took power in 2006. In fact, VAC has not only experienced one of the largest employment cuts of any department but the assault on its frontline employees began in 2011, a year before the government-wide downsizing.
At its peak in 2009, VAC was authorized a mere 7% increase in employees from 2006 levels. Since that time, employee positions have been consistently cut. Today, the department has almost 10% less positions (3,370) than when Mr. Harper became Prime Minister. When the axe stops swinging in 2016, VAC will have lost more than a quarter of its work force or 1000 positions since the Conservatives took power, not including 800 further positions to be lost when Ste.… Read the rest
Posted by Sean Bruyea on February 6, 2014