Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

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Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by Trooper on Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:10 pm

Published December 11, 2017

Another allegation of insensitive comments from federal minister Kent Hehr has surfaced, this time from the wife of a disabled veteran.

Hehr, who is the former veterans affairs minister and the current minister of sport and persons with disabilities, has been under fire in recent weeks for statements he allegedly made to a group of thalidomide survivors in October.

On Monday, Kim Davis spoke to The Chronicle Herald about similarly inconsiderate comments she says he made to her in the summer of 2016 when he was in Dartmouth.

Davis said she was at an event for the opening of the Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic, which is funded by Veterans Affairs Canada, when she approached Hehr.

Davis, an outspoken activist for veterans, said she challenged Hehr about what the government was doing to look after the families of veterans who have to become full-time caregivers.

In Davis’ case, her husband, a Bosnian veteran, was suicidal and has such severe PTSD that she had to quit her job as a college instructor to care for him.

“I had to give up a career that I enjoyed that had a pension and benefits. Now when I reach age 65 I won’t even qualify for CPP as I haven’t been working,” she said.

Davis said when she explained her situation to Hehr, he responded by telling her Veterans Affairs Canada does not have an obligation to her, as it was her choice to marry her husband.

“I don’t become speechless very quickly but I was dumbfounded that he actually said that,” she said.

Davis said she then went on to tell Hehr that she didn’t think it was fair that, as per the Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act, if her husband committed suicide her children would have their education paid for but because she had to quit her job to care for him, they might not have the opportunity.

Hehr responded again by saying being with her husband was her choice, Davis alleges.

Davis’ description of the exchange was corroborated by Dawn Marie Collins, another spouse of a veteran, who was standing next to Davis at the time. Collins said she remembers the conversation and that she also felt belittled by Hehr at the event.

In an emailed statement, Hehr completely denied making those comments to Davis.

“At the office opening in June 2016, I noticed some members in the audience wanted to speak with me. I agreed to have a private meeting with them on the spot. I listened to their concerns, and we had a cordial meeting,” Hehr said.

Hehr said improving the lives of veterans and their families is a priority for the federal government, touting an increase to the caregiver recognition benefit to $1,000 month tax-free beginning in April 2018.

“As I have said, I am taking steps to better myself as a representative of the people of Calgary and of Canada. I will continue to advocate for all Canadians, including our most vulnerable.”

In response to The Chronicle Herald’s request, a staffer from Hehr’s office also sent a number of screenshots of Davis broadly venting and criticizing Hehr and VAC on a public Facebook group for Canadian veterans, as well as a screenshot of a comment on a post on Hehr’s official page.

The staffer said the screenshots weren’t to discredit Davis, but to show that she has been vocal about her concerns.

Following her encounter with Hehr, Davis said she was not at all surprised to hear that he had also made questionable comments to survivors of thalidomide, a drug once widely prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness until it was found to cause serious birth defects.

At a press conference in Ottawa last week, members of the Thalidomide Survivor Task Group accused Hehr of trivializing their struggles by telling them everyone has “a sob story” at a meeting back in October.

Hehr has apologized for the comments, which he said were misconstrued.

Davis said she just wants to make people aware that Hehr’s apparent lack of sensitivity is not a one-time thing.

“He doesn’t seem to care, he doesn’t seem to have any filters,” she said.

“It’s like he is given free range to say whatever he wants and doesn’t seem to have any backlash or recourse because of it.”
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Re: Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by JAFO on Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:16 pm

Does this guy even know that there is a "filter" between his brain and mouth?  Obviously NOT! LOL

I was wondering why there was a picture of Hehr in the Webster's dictionary to define arrogance. And before anyone says my dictionary is outdated and that his picture should be the definition of "stupidity" that one is a group photo of JT's Cabinet!!!
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Re: Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by Trooper on Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:42 pm

Hehr working on his ‘interactions’ after another complaint about rudeness

By Janice Dickson. --- Published on Dec 12, 2017

After another complaint about his behaviour, Minister for Sports and Persons with Disabilities Kent Hehr said today he is working on “improving his interactions.”

A wife of a disabled veteran told the Chronicle Herald that Hehr, the former minister for veterans affairs, made inappropriate comments in the summer of 2016.

Kim Davis quit her job as a college instructor to care for her husband, who served in Bosnia, was suicidal and suffered from severe PTSD. Davis told the Herald that when she talked to Hehr about her experiences, he told her Veterans Affairs Canada does not have an obligation to her — because it was her choice to marry her husband.

Just last week, Fiona Sampson, a thalidomide survivor, said that Hehr belittled thalidomide survivors at a meeting in October. Hehr said he offered the group an apology.

But when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Hehr today, he initially said Hehr also apologized to Davis — when, in fact, Hehr actually denied the allegation, according to reports.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that Hehr “in typical fashion is now denying any responsibility and is blaming the widow for his comments. Can the prime minister tell us who he believes, the veteran’s widow or this minister?”

Trudeau said that Hehr “takes these allegations seriously and has responded to them and apologized,” when asked the first time.

Later in question period, though, Scheer said: “Earlier in question period the prime minister claimed that his minister had actually apologized to a disabled veteran’s wife who was insulted by the minister. Now that turns out to simply not be true. The CBC is reporting that in fact he is attacking her for speaking out against him and has not apologized.”

“I want to give the prime minister an opportunity to correct the record. Will he admit that his minister has
not apologized and will he start showing Kim Davis the respect that she deserves?”

“The minister responded to those particular allegations,” Trudeau replied, “and he apologized for earlier ones.”

For his part, Hehr said that he is “working on meeting with as many Canadians as we can to improve their lives. I am also working on myself to improve interaction on a go forward basis.”

Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs said that Hehr’s staff tried to shame and discredit Davis when she spoke out by sending multiple screenshots of her personal Facebook posts for a veterans support group to the media.

“Instead of being compassionate, the minister launched a taxpayer-funded political attack on a veteran’s wife. Why did the minister order his staff to publicly humiliate Kim Davis instead of telling them to do their jobs and help veterans and their families? Why is the PM okay with it?”

Hehr said he met with Davis two years ago and thanked she and her husband for their service. He insisted that he remembers thanking Davis.
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Re: Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by Trooper on Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:39 pm

How many political lives does Kent Hehr have?

The Liberal cabinet minister’s empathy tank has run dry and he has become a liability, Tim Harper writes

By TIM HARPER --- National Affairs Columnist
Wed., Dec. 13, 2017

For weeks, the opposition Conservatives have been aiming high, trying to take down a sitting finance minister.

It won’t work. The Conservatives may be scoring points in the Commons, if not byelections, but Bill Morneau isn’t going anywhere.

While it is natural to go hunting for the big game, the Conservatives should aim a little lower because one has to wonder how many lives Kent Hehr could possibly have left.

The minister for sports and people with disabilities is becoming the Trudeau government’s chief victim-blamer.

We often call for more candour in politicians, but no one calls for less empathy.

Three times this month Hehr has been accused of insensitivity when dealing with those seeking action from his government, ranging from thalidomide victims to a woman whose war veteran husband is suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

This week Hehr faced allegations from a Nova Scotia woman who met with him in 2016.

He clearly has a history with Kim Davis. He blocked her from his official Facebook page and Davis is an activist who is not shy when it comes to holding politicians to account.

Davis said she pressed Hehr when he was minister of veterans affairs in 2016 about extending benefits to family members. She had to quit her job to look after her husband and she was worried about paying for her children’s education.

The alleged response from the minister without empathy? A lot of kids don’t have their education paid for, so why should hers?

When pressed about her husband’s condition, Davis said Hehr responded: “You married him. It’s your responsibility.’’

It is important to note Hehr denied the story, calling the meeting with Davis “cordial” even as his boss, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the Commons Tuesday to mistakenly tell opposition leader Andrew Scheer that Hehr had apologized.

Trudeau later corrected the record, but perhaps he was just losing track since Hehr had apologized for two previous transgressions.

He has been accused of telling thalidomide victims that “everyone has a sob story.’’

When Jennifer McCrea, a Calgary woman who is fighting on behalf of mothers who say they were denied benefits while on maternity leave asked why the government was fighting sick women, she said the minister replied it was a “loaded question,’’ adding: “Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking . . . When did you stop beating your wife?”

According to McCrea, Hehr managed to do all this in a two-minute meeting which indicates the minister starts in combat mode, he is not goaded into making inappropriate comments.

It cannot be lost on Trudeau, the country’s feminist prime minister, that all three instances cited are cases of Hehr putting down women or being overly combative with them.

No prime minister relishes standing in the Commons defending ministers bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. No government will want these charges hanging over its head, certainly not in the political climate of late 2017.

Hehr has suggested some remarks have been misconstrued, but he has admitted to sometimes being brash and inappropriate and he has to work on getting better.

He admits he needs improvement in “personal interactions,’’ and is taking steps to better himself as a representative of Calgary and Canada.

A cabinet minister who says he needs to get better at dealing with people is problematic. Put him first in veterans affairs then move him to deal with people with disabilities, people who are all hurting, physically or mentally, and it becomes combustible.

The Conservatives have not been aggressive in going after Hehr — at least not by Morneau standards.

Trudeau gave Hehr a ringing endorsement Wednesday. Such endorsements are often not worth the bandwidth needed to publish it in Hansard. Wait a couple weeks.

Hehr’s lack of empathy brings to mind the shambolic tenure in veterans affairs of Julian Fantino in Stephen Harper’s government. The former top cop turned marijuana entrepreneur was another minister whose empathy tank had run dry.

He infamously dressed down elderly war veterans and walked away from the wife of a veteran who wanted to talk to him.

When Parliament rose for the Christmas break in 2014, Harper professed confidence in Fantino.

On Jan. 5, 2015 he quietly shuffled him to an associate minister’s job.

Hehr has already been shuffled to what was supposed to be a lower profile portfolio.

He is hosting his Christmas party in his Calgary riding Saturday. It might be the last time he hosts a festive event as a federal minister.

Tim Harper writes on national affairs., Twitter: @nutgraf1
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Re: Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by Trooper on Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:50 pm

Kent Hehr does not belong in cabinet

GARY MASON --- Dec 14, 2017

What is Kent Hehr still doing in the federal cabinet?

Mr. Hehr is the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities who has been making news recently, and not in a good way. He has been accused by a number of women of conducting himself inappropriately in meetings, mostly by making comments that were rude, condescending and grossly insensitive.

The minister has denied some of the allegations while apologizing for others. But you have to ask yourself why any of these women who came forward would lie about their interactions with him. As well, the complaints all have a similar feel.

This week, a woman from Nova Scotia disclosed details of a meeting she and her husband had with Mr. Hehr in 2016 when he was Veterans Affairs minister. (He was since demoted in a cabinet shuffle.) Kim Davis's husband Blair – a veteran of the Canadian peacekeeping mission in Bosnia – is suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. Struggling to cope financially, Ms. Davis was looking for some help from the government. She highlighted how difficult it was to save for their children's education. She was lobbying to have financial benefits given to the families of deceased military personnel extended to those dealing with severe injuries that prevent them from working.

She said the minister couldn't have been more disrespectful, saying at one point: "There's lots of kids out there that don't get [a] paid education, why should yours?" When she asked him how she was supposed to support her family and care for her husband, the minister is alleged to have said: "You married him. He's your responsibility." Mr. Hehr denies the allegation.

However, it comes on the heels of similar complaints. Members of a thalidomide survivor group looking for financial help recently accused the minister of making wholly inappropriate statements to them. At one point he's alleged to have said: "You don't have it so bad. Everyone in Canada has a sob story." When the group explained they needed help now as they had shortened lifespans, the minister is said to have blurted out: "So you probably have about 10 years left then now. That's good news for the Canadian government." Again, Mr. Hehr denied making some of the comments and apologized if others were "misinterpreted."

A woman in Calgary also recently complained about a meeting she had with Mr. Hehr in October, 2016. Jennifer McCrea is part of a group of mothers suing the federal government over benefits they allege were denied them while on maternity leave. When she asked him why Ottawa was fighting these women, he allegedly said: "That's like asking, 'When did you stop beating your wife?'"Ms. McCrea said her jaw dropped.

When this matter was raised in the House of Commons, Mr. Hehr read a statement saying he apologized, acknowledging that his comments to people can sometimes be "brash and sometimes even inappropriate."

There is clearly a pattern here. And as I say, there is no reason to doubt the accounts of the women who have come forward. They want the public to be aware of the minister's conduct. If these were sexual-harassment complaints, it's unimaginable Mr. Hehr would be allowed to remain in his position. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already demonstrated he has zero tolerance for anyone even remotely associated with allegations of that sort. Which is why it's a mystery he is sticking by someone who has been accused of being demeaning, callous and shockingly rude to people who have come to him looking for assistance.

The fact that those levelling these charges against Mr. Hehr are all women should not be overlooked.

Mr. Hehr has become an embarrassment to the government, not to mention a political liability. He tarnishes the image of this administration with each passing day. There is no question Mr. Hehr has overcome enormous personal obstacles on his way to Ottawa, having been left a quadriplegic at the age of 21 as a result of a drive-by shooting. But however painful and compelling his story is, it shouldn't exempt him from treating others with the common decency they deserve. Nor should it afford him protections for poor behaviour not accorded other ministers.

The fact that he is the only minister from Conservative-dominated Calgary should also not enter into any calculation concerning his suitability for a seat at the cabinet table. It's time the Prime Minister dealt with this issue in the manner it should be. If he does, Mr. Hehr will no longer be in cabinet.
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Re: Veteran’s wife calls Veterans Affairs minister insenitive

Post by Trooper on Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:37 am

Kent Hehr's meanness conflicts with Sunny Ways

Lorne Gunter
December 16, 2017

Kent Hehr arrives at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on August 28, 2017 where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce changes to his cabinet.

In the fairy-tale land of Sunny Ways that is our current federal Liberal government, has Kent Hehr committed the first unpardonable offence: Meanness?

Hehr is the Calgary Liberal MP who also serves as minister of sport and persons with disabilities. In recent weeks, he has been the focus of several accusations about his rudeness and insensitivity towards victims’ organizations.

To be fair, Hehr has either apologized for or denied all the allegations (although it is not always easy to keep track of which he claims never happened and which ones he has said, “I’m sorry” for).

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons to tell Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer that Hehr had already apologized for an alleged incident involving a Nova Scotia veteran’s family.

As it turned out, this was instead one of the controversies Hehr denies and Trudeau later asked to have the official records of the Commons corrected. The allegations, denials and expressions of regret surrounding Hehr are so numerous and come so quickly, even the PM can’t keep up.

Until he, apparently, began beaking off at advocates for veterans and the disabled, Hehr had been seen by many as an inspiration.

Confined to a wheelchair since he was 21 (he is now 47), Hehr had been a talented junior and college hockey player in his hometown of Calgary. Then, late one night in October 1991, while driving home from a bar after hockey practice, Hehr and a buddy got into a shouting match with people in another car. One of the others drew out a gun and shot at the car Hehr was riding in.

Hehr was struck in the neck and rendered a quadriplegic. Despite that, he qualified for law school, became heavily involved in community and charitable organizations and served two terms in the Alberta legislature, where he became a well-known champion of LGBTQ rights.

Shortly after being elected to the House of Commons for the first time during the 2015 federal election, Hehr told a reporter he wished he’d gone home five minutes earlier on that fateful night. However, “I’m 100% happy. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way my life turned out.”

A former president of the Alberta branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Hehr then might seem like one of the last politicians who would, allegedly, tell thalidomide victims, “You don’t have it so bad. Everyone in Canada has a sob story.”

Or tell a woman whose veteran husband has chronic PTSD that he developed in Bosnia while peacekeeping on behalf of Canada and the UN in the 1990s, “You married him. He’s your responsibility.”

Or, allegedly, tell a group of Calgary moms who were asking him why they had been denied maternity-leave benefits that that was like asking him, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

Interestingly, the accusers in all three instances are women.

In recent months, Canadians have witnessed Liberal cabinet ministers with far greater problems than callousness.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has huge potential conflict-of-interest issues, and has perhaps committed egregious ethics violations by not putting his vast holdings into a blind trust and by failing to disclose his ownership of a villa in the south of France.

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef was discovered to have been admitted to Canada as a refugee under false pretenses. And, a year later, is still in cabinet, despite her passport still being wrong.

Morneau’s and Monsef’s transgressions are forgivable in Trutopia, where the highest priorities seem to be making everyone feel good, while thinking and saying (although not always doing) the fashionable thing.

But a minister (Hehr) who isn’t nice to victims’ groups cannot be long for his post.
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