All posts tagged

Fantino: cloudy priorities in sunny Cyprus

Sean Bruyea

On March 12, the flag lowered in Kabul, Canada’s most costly mission since WWII. Not a single Conservative MP attended. The next day, while eastern Canada recovered from a snowstorm, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Julian Fantino flew to a sunny Mediterranean destination.

It has been 50 years since the UN mission in Cyprus began. In an email, VAC indicated Minister Fantino will be accompanied by “a staff member, 5 Veterans from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA), 5 Veterans from the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping (CAVUNP) and two program officials.”

Retired Captain Perry Gray was contingent commander in Cyprus from 1996-1998. He is Chief Editor of, an internet community of 100,000 subscribers. “Why are they going to Cyprus? It is unresolved, a black mark. Nicosia is the only remaining divided capital of Europe,” explains Mr. Gray adding, “we were never consulted on this trip.”

It appears that only CPVA and CAVUNP were asked to nominate individuals. CAVUNP had approximately 375 members in Jan 2013 and CPVA is considerably smaller. However, both would not respond to repeated email questions about the trip or their membership numbers which include more than just peacekeeping veterans.… Read the rest

Mock Consultation: Subjecting Veterans to an Ugly Political Game

Sean Bruyea

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

Just One More Reason for a Commission of Inquiry into Veterans’ Issues

The article below was first published in Ottawa’s Hill Times on January 23, 2012

For Canada’s injured military, veterans and their families, there are few government agencies so singularly reviled as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. The federal quasi-judicial body which hears reviews and appeals from injured soldiers and veterans applying for disability benefits has stolidly played a leading role in cultivating such scorn.

For almost a century, Canada’s injured soldiers have been awarded benefits for disability and living assistance. From their inception, awards and benefits have not always been justly granted to those who have sacrificed in our nation’s name.  This is where the VRAB or the “Board” comes in. Serving members, veterans, RCMP and their survivors (collectively called “applicants”) seek recourse through VRAB when the Department of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has failed these applicants in need.

The board has existed in various incarnations over the past century with its latest version morphing in 1995. In all of its incarnations, it has attracted much vitriol from the military, veteran and family community. In fact, Canada’s most prominent veterans’ organization, the Royal Canadian Legion, grew rapidly and came together largely as a result of leading the public outcry widely condemning VRAB’s predecessor in the 1920s.… Read the rest