All posts tagged Stephen Harper

Harper’s Man Friday

Ian Bron and Allan Cutler

Last week, the government announced that Stephen Harper had appointed a new Integrity Commissioner, Joe Friday, who has been with the office since 2008 and was the last Commissioner’s Deputy. This was not a surprise to us, but it is a disappointment. It is also a slap in the face of conscientious public servants looking for a safe place to report misconduct. They, as well as the Canadian public have a right to expect an aggressive, thorough, and competent Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (OPSIC).

Friday served under both previous Commissioners, Christiane Ouimet and Mario Dion. Ouimet’s tenure was an unmitigated disaster. Just three and a half years into her tenure, she resigned in the face of a damning report from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that concluded she had been engaging in the very kinds of acts she was supposed to be preventing – harassment and reprisals against staff believed to be speaking out about abuse and mismanagement in her office. She left with her pension intact and a $500,000 lump sum. When called before Committee in 2010, Friday denied seeing anything wrong: “Madame Ouimet was carrying that out in her role as commissioner, which would be appropriate.… Read the rest

Prime Minister Harper: Thank you for Julian Fantino

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

Gosh, the Veterans Affairs portfolio has been difficult hasn’t it? I don’t think you have received enough credit however for appointing Julian Fantino as the Department’s Minster. He has been a blessing in disguise to Canada’s disabled veterans and their families.

Canadians, particularly veterans, may be widely repulsed by the constant shenanigans of Minister Fantino. I suspect that being the veteran and military champion you claim to be, you had a hidden plan to bring substantive change to that poorly managed department. Our senior public servants and their policies are largely integrity, compassion, transparency and innovation challenged.  Those at Veterans Affairs (VAC) are arguably the worst of the lot.

Back to Minister Fantino. Many believe you appointed the highly controversial ex-police chief because he could somehow command order amongst those ungratefully vocal veterans who dared exercise the very rights for which they sacrificed in uniform. You know, I am referring to those pesky fundamental freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and the press.

Just as Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn noted following the widespread breaches in my privacy in 2010, VAC all alone in Charlottetown needed a change in culture. Rightly bringing the department back to Ottawa would be a rather large budget line.… Read the rest

Parliament throws veterans under the bus, yet again

Veterans pictured last week protesting on Parliament Hill

Sean Bruyea

Veterans have every reason to be disillusioned with Ottawa once again. But this time, the disappointment could become the nail in Minister Julian Fantino’s Veterans Affairs coffin.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee released its much anticipated report reviewing the New Veterans Charter (NVC). The legislation required a “comprehensive review” to begin last November in spite of Minister Fantino’s claim that he called for the review to be comprehensive. The Minister did however call committee to focus on the “most seriously injured, support for families and delivery of program by Veterans Affairs Canada [VAC]”.

The report’s 14 limited recommendations received unanimous and glowing accolades from all parties.

Let’s dig a little deeper. The most positive recommendation proposed a detailed procedure for injured leaving the military, transferring to VAC and receiving care in their communities. Ensuring that veterans in isolated and rural areas receive adequate care, a longstanding problem, was not addressed.

Most of the remaining thirteen recommendations range from poorly defined to bizarre.

The NVC results in serious inequities, providing less to reserve force veterans than those in the regular military. The report recommended that reserve force veterans “be entitled to the same benefits” as regular force veterans.… Read the rest