As we remember the contribution that hundreds of thousands of Canadians have made in our armed forces over many decades, it’s gratifying to see how many of us get the message.
Undoubtedly it has helped to have Canadians serving and sadly dying in Afghanistan over the past decade, but the sight of poppies on more and more lapels would suggest that most of us are ahead of the government when it comes to the treatment of veterans.
Again we have Murray Brewster of Canadian Press to thank for shining a light on shameful behaviour by Ottawa bean counters. The Last Post Fund is an agency that was established in 1909, the same year they played the first Grey Cup. Its purpose is to ensure that every former soldier gets a proper burial, even if they don’t have two obsolete pennies to rub together.
In recent years, Jean Chretien’s Liberals and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have both restricted access to the fund, to the point that since 2006, two thirds of the applications have been turned down. Brewster broke the story as Veterans Week began, and it should make all politicians uncomfortable.
It should have made the Prime Minister particularly uncomfortable as he was being driven around India and Pakistan in an armoured limousine, one of two vehicles that were shipped over from Ottawa at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was money that could more properly be used to bolster the Last Post Fund.
Harper’s trip was an important trade mission, in a part of the world where terrorists and assassins are not uncommon. The security for Canada’s Prime Minister is handled by the RCMP. The fact that the armoured limo story and the news about more nickel and diming of veterans came out at the same time could be described as an ‘unfortunate coincidence’. Either way Canada’s veterans deserve more respect, and all political parties can share the blame.
I’m Roger Currie
You can listen to Roger Currie’s commentary by clicking on the link below: