harper's support for veterans: wear a poppy. do nothing else.

The Harper Government says that supporting US Iraq War resisters dishonours Canadian veterans. But most war resisters are veterans, and we call on the government to recognize and respect their basic human rights.

So how does the Harper Government support veterans? By wearing poppies on their lapels! What, isn't that enough? They also cheer when a family is torn apart and forced out of Canada. Because cruelty to an Iraq War veteran who now supports peace equals support for the Canadian forces. No?

These Canadian veterans feel they deserve more. From The National Post, Canada's most conservative newspaper:
Disabled veterans, widows slam Harper government ahead of Remembrance Day

Disabled veterans and military widows are unleashing a broadside of frustration against the Harper government just before Remembrance Day, saying they’re feeling abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

They have gathered on Parliament Hill to paint a stark picture of bureaucratic indifference and red tape that flies in the face of reassurances from the government, which says the care of military families is a top priority.

Few of the government’s touted programs meant to help combat veterans find civilian jobs actually help the disabled, complained retired master corporal Dave Desjardins, who is paralyzed from the waist down.

Desjardins said he was proud to serve his country.

“What I’m not proud of, however, is how our government officials and senior military leadership can look directly into the camera (and) speak to the Canadian public about honouring our veterans at this time of year with implied conviction when they’ve clearly turned their back on us and continue to demonstrate (that) on a daily basis,” said Desjardins.

He challenged Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney to look him in the eye “and tell me you really care.”

The government recently threw its weight behind a so-called “helmets-to-hardhats” program, which aids ex-soldiers get into the construction industry — a wonderful resource for someone without physical limitations, said Desjardins.

A number of officials “in expensive suits” are on the record as saying there are a number of opportunities for disabled veterans, but Desjardins said many of the head hunters discriminate in favour of officers, leaving non-commissioned members out in the cold.

“I’m here to ask those suits one simple question: Show me. Show me where those opportunities and jobs are — and I’m not just asking for myself, I'm also asking for the hundreds of other disabled veterans across Canada.”

Tracy Kerr, wife of a triple amputee who fought in Afghanistan, said she and her family have battled for years to get basic needs, such as a lift to get her husband in and out of the bathtub.

“I’ve travelled seven hours to speak to the public about how we’re struggling,” said Kerr, from Sudbury, Ont., her eyes filling with tears as she spoke.

“I just want a quality of life, happiness for my family and when we make requests for his needs, to get them.”

Jackie Girouard, whose husband was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar in 2006, said the families of many soldiers are denied access to the veterans independence program, which helps with yard work and light housekeeping.

She said policies which set time limits on accepting assistance, such as two years for education and job retraining, are insensitive and unrealistic.

“I was with my husband for 31 years, and I make no apologies for how long it took to me to get this far without my husband,” she said.

“They could’ve said to me: ’Jackie, take your time and when you’re ready come see us and we’ll work together to help you achieve you and your family’s goals.’ Those words alone would have demonstrated to me that you care. Those words would have demonstrated to me that you understood and it was not just about money or policies.”

Ex-soldiers say much of the dissatisfaction can be traced back to the 2006 New Veterans Charter, which overhauled the way ex-soldiers are compensated.

For many of the wounded, the government has moved away from a pension-for-life system into a workers compensation-style lump-sum payment, a process that is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit.
Same paper, September 23:
Tories spent more than $750,000 in court battle against veterans’ pension claim

OTTAWA — The Harper government spent $750,462 in legal fees fighting veterans over the clawback of military pensions, documents tabled in Parliament show.

Federal Liberals have been demanding to see a breakdown of Ottawa’s legal costs in the class-action lawsuit launched by veterans advocate Dennis Manuge, of Halifax.

The response was tabled in Parliament last week, but Justice Minister Rob Nicholson refused to release an itemized count, invoking solicitor-client privilege.

Instead, he released a global amount for the lawsuit, which has been dragging its way through the courts since March 2007.

Liberal veterans critic Sean Casey described the legal bill as an “obscene waste of taxpayers’ money.”

In abandoning the legal fight, the government appointed Stephen Toope, the president of the University of British Columbia, to lead negotiations with Manuge’s legal team to arrive at a settlement, including retroactive payments.

The settlement could run as high as $600-million, depending upon how many years back the federal compensation plan will go, say internal government estimates.

Casey said that given the amount of money at stake, he could see the government fighting it tooth and nail — if it had a strong case.

“They had a weak case from the get-go and it was absolutely irresponsible. The responsible thing for them to do was not to force litigation, but to sit down when this problem reared its ugly head and come to a negotiated settlement.”

In siding with veterans last May, Judge Robert Barnes “unreservedly” rejected the government’s arguments.

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