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Post by Edgefore on Sat 10 Nov 2018, 6:51 pm

Lowered expectations new norm for Canada’s veterans

Published:
November 10, 2018


By Sean Bruyea and Robert Smol

Sean Bruyea - Page 3 1112-remembrance-day-145-jpg

All week long, Canadians have been putting a loonie or two in the poppy donation box, reflecting a growing awareness that veterans, at the very least, need to be honoured, even if by small deeds such as pinning on a poppy.

Sadly, government seems bound by the same small-change-supporting big-promises philosophy. This thinly veiled hypocrisy will fuel veteran disaffection in the coming years.

We hear ad nauseam “debt of gratitude,” “eternal debt,” and “debts owed,” but the willingness to actually incur a debt to tangibly repay our modern veterans has been a bureaucratic and political hot potato for decades.

Tens of thousands of Canadians who lost limbs and severed souls after serving in the Persian Gulf War, Rwanda, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia and dozens of other so-called peacekeeping missions, suffered similarly or greater than many Second World War veterans.


While previous “war” veterans came home to universal re-establishment programs, no parades or universal programs awaited our Canadian Forces veterans. It wasn’t until the outcry and need became so acute, that in 2005 government acted by attempting to diminish its obligation to care for veterans.

So, with younger veterans asking for more help, they received less. Claiming it was acting on the vague recommendations of a government advisory group, Ottawa surreptitiously replaced lifetime pensions for pain and suffering with one-time lump sums paying a fraction of lifetime pensions. Accompanying the lump sum, government duplicated, in some cases, word-for-word, a military insurance policy for injured soldiers, claiming the program was completely new.

It was the lump sum for pain and suffering that became the flashpoint for seething veteran alienation and suffering. It sparked an attempted class-action lawsuit and the first nationwide protests since the First World War. But, it also led to the 2015 election being the first in more than seven decades that all parties had a veterans’ platform.


Apart from saving money in the long term, what might have been motivating government to diminish its duty of care to veterans? Behind the mask of cheesy accolades is the belief that a universal, ongoing commitment to care for veterans for life will encourage a culture of dependency. In its 2014 legal response to a veteran class action lawsuit, the government claimed that, in enacting the New Veterans Charter, they “made a deliberate policy choice to move from an approach which encouraged dependence and focused upon illness to a regime which was intended to foster independence and wellness.”

That’s a highly academic legal way of saying disabled veterans are at risk of becoming “welfare bums” and need to learn how to put in a hard day’s work and learn to earn a living on their own.

FYI to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: veterans know the meaning of hard work!

Sadly, the Liberal promise to “reinstate lifetime pensions” is a whitewash. Government is merely converting the lump sum into an annuity that pays out as long as the veteran lives but leaves nothing for surviving family members once the equivalent of the lump sum is collected.


The previous pension paid out during the life of the veteran and the full life of survivors. To offset any extra costs for the younger veterans living long lives under the new Liberal program, Ottawa quietly cancelled that benefit for most seriously disabled veterans.

Veterans know when they are not receiving the right help in the right way. No amount of government rhetoric can twist that reality. It is a tragic pattern — veterans overcome their deeply ingrained reluctance to criticize the democratic institutions for which they were willing to die. Government then implements changes through secretive deceptions and bureaucratic gimmicks, changes that pay less than the program veterans were complaining about.

“Thank you for your service” should never be reduced to a demeaning move-on-and-suck-it-up approach.

As Canadians, we may not glorify war like other nations, but we certainly have to stop allowing our government to humiliate those willing to die for our right to let others wear a uniform in our defence.


Sean Bruyea and Robert Smol are both retired
intelligence officers, freelance journalists and
frequent commentators on military and veteran
issues.





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Post by Powergunner on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 7:14 pm

Why 2 Canadian vets say ‘abysmal’ broken promises could see suicides top Afghan War deaths

By Amanda Connolly National Online Journalist Global News

November 11, 2018


Broken government promises to veterans could see the number of deaths by suicide match those of soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the next decade.

That was the argument made by two veterans who joined the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson for a Remembrance Day discussion of what they describe as the continued failures of Veterans Affairs to meet the needs of veterans and how that is directly hurting the people who have fought and died for Canadians.


“People are dying,” said retired Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, who lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan.

“Right now, I think it’s 71 veterans have committed suicide from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So we’re sitting here waiting for that number to reach the 159 soldiers who died in Afghanistan. It’s going to happen probably in the next five to 10 years and we need to get Veterans Affairs to understand that this is preventable and it’s up to them to do their job.”



Franklin, who has been calling for the government to simplify the process of obtaining veterans benefits over recent years, criticized the Liberals for playing what he called a “shell game” with their attempt to meet a campaign promise to reinstate lifelong pensions to veterans.

Those pensions were eliminated in 2006 in favour of a lump sum payment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised during the 2015 campaign to reinstate the lifelong pension.

But instead of reinstating the old pension, the Liberals announced late last autumn they offer essentially a bundled version of existing benefits and dole out an amount veterans say is worth roughly half to one-third of what the previous pension would have paid out over the course of their lifetime.



“That pension was not reinstated, said retired Cpt. Sean Bruyea, one of the country’s best-known veterans advocates.

“This is merely the lump sum that’s been made into an annuity over time.”

Bruyea called the Liberal record so far on helping veterans “abysmal” and said they have failed to make improvements to the wait times facing veterans who apply for benefits and have also failed to implement meaningful promises such as hiring more front-line workers to help process veteran claims.

“Veterans are becoming incredibly disillusioned and disaffected and being harmed by the wait for these programs,” he said.


“I would say this is a direct contribution to much of the despondency that contributes to people taking such desperate measures such as substance abuse and perhaps even suicide.”


And as the clock ticks down to the implementation of that new pension plan, Bruyea urged the government to reverse a course they say is heading “all downhill for veterans.”

This is the last Remembrance Day before veterans will be able to choose between the existing lump sum payment or the pension they say amounts to breaking that same payment up over the course of a lifetime.

The new pension plan is set to become available in April 2019.


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Post by Xforce2000 on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 8:45 pm

[quote="Edgefore"]
Lowered expectations new norm for Canada’s veterans

Published:
November 10, 2018


By Sean Bruyea and Robert Smol

Sean Bruyea - Page 3 1112-remembrance-day-145-jpg

All week long, Canadians have been putting a loonie or two in the poppy donation box, reflecting a growing awareness that veterans, at the very least, need to be honoured, even if by small deeds such as pinning on a poppy.

Sadly, government seems bound by the same small-change-supporting big-promises philosophy. This thinly veiled hypocrisy will fuel veteran disaffection in the coming years.

We hear ad nauseam “debt of gratitude,” “eternal debt,” and “debts owed,” but the willingness to actually incur a debt to tangibly repay our modern veterans has been a bureaucratic and political hot potato for decades.

Tens of thousands of Canadians who lost limbs and severed souls after serving in the Persian Gulf War, Rwanda, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia and dozens of other so-called peacekeeping missions, suffered similarly  or greater than many Second World War veterans.


While previous “war” veterans came home to universal re-establishment programs, no parades or universal programs awaited our Canadian Forces veterans. It wasn’t until the outcry and need became so acute, that in 2005 government acted by attempting to diminish its obligation to care for veterans.

So, with younger veterans asking for more help, they received less. Claiming it was acting on the vague recommendations of a government advisory group, Ottawa surreptitiously replaced lifetime pensions for pain and suffering with one-time lump sums paying a fraction of lifetime pensions. Accompanying the lump sum, government duplicated, in some cases, word-for-word, a military insurance policy for injured soldiers, claiming the program was completely new.

It was the lump sum for pain and suffering that became the flashpoint for seething veteran alienation and suffering. It sparked an attempted class-action lawsuit and the first nationwide protests since the First World War. But, it also led to the 2015 election being the first in more than seven decades that all parties had a veterans’ platform.


Apart from saving money in the long term, what might have been motivating government to diminish its duty of care to veterans?  Behind the mask of cheesy accolades is the belief that a universal, ongoing commitment to care for veterans for life will encourage a culture of dependency. In its 2014 legal response to a veteran class action lawsuit,  the government claimed that, in enacting the New Veterans Charter, they “made a deliberate policy choice to move from an approach which encouraged dependence and focused upon illness to a regime which was intended to foster independence and wellness.”

That’s a highly academic legal way of saying disabled veterans are at risk of becoming “welfare bums” and need to learn how to put in a hard day’s work and learn to earn a living on their own.

FYI to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:  veterans know the meaning of hard work!

Sadly, the Liberal promise to “reinstate lifetime pensions” is a whitewash. Government is merely converting the lump sum into an annuity that pays out as long as the veteran lives but leaves nothing for surviving family members once the equivalent of the lump sum is collected.


The previous pension paid out during the life of the veteran and the full life of survivors. To offset any extra costs for the younger veterans living long lives under the new Liberal program, Ottawa quietly cancelled that benefit for most seriously disabled veterans.

Veterans know when they are not receiving the right help in the right way. No amount of government rhetoric can twist that reality. It is a tragic pattern — veterans overcome their deeply ingrained reluctance to criticize the democratic institutions for which they were willing to die. Government then implements changes through secretive deceptions and bureaucratic gimmicks, changes that pay less than the program veterans were complaining about.

“Thank you for your service” should never be reduced to a demeaning move-on-and-suck-it-up approach.

As Canadians, we may not glorify war like other nations, but we certainly have to stop allowing our government to humiliate those willing to die for our right to let others wear a uniform in our defence.


Sean Bruyea and Robert Smol are both retired
intelligence officers, freelance journalists and
frequent commentators on military and veteran
issues.


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Post by Xforce2000 on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 8:49 pm

Powergunner wrote:
Why 2 Canadian vets say ‘abysmal’ broken promises could see suicides top Afghan War deaths

By Amanda Connolly  National Online Journalist Global News

November 11, 2018


Broken government promises to veterans could see the number of deaths by suicide match those of soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the next decade.

That was the argument made by two veterans who joined the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson for a Remembrance Day discussion of what they describe as the continued failures of Veterans Affairs to meet the needs of veterans and how that is directly hurting the people who have fought and died for Canadians.


“People are dying,” said retired Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, who lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan.

“Right now, I think it’s 71 veterans have committed suicide from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So we’re sitting here waiting for that number to reach the 159 soldiers who died in Afghanistan. It’s going to happen probably in the next five to 10 years and we need to get Veterans Affairs to understand that this is preventable and it’s up to them to do their job.”



Franklin, who has been calling for the government to simplify the process of obtaining veterans benefits over recent years, criticized the Liberals for playing what he called a “shell game” with their attempt to meet a campaign promise to reinstate lifelong pensions to veterans.

Those pensions were eliminated in 2006 in favour of a lump sum payment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised during the 2015 campaign to reinstate the lifelong pension.

But instead of reinstating the old pension, the Liberals announced late last autumn they offer essentially a bundled version of existing benefits and dole out an amount veterans say is worth roughly half to one-third of what the previous pension would have paid out over the course of their lifetime.



“That pension was not reinstated, said retired Cpt. Sean Bruyea, one of the country’s best-known veterans advocates.

“This is merely the lump sum that’s been made into an annuity over time.”

Bruyea called the Liberal record so far on helping veterans “abysmal” and said they have failed to make improvements to the wait times facing veterans who apply for benefits and have also failed to implement meaningful promises such as hiring more front-line workers to help process veteran claims.

“Veterans are becoming incredibly disillusioned and disaffected and being harmed by the wait for these programs,” he said.


“I would say this is a direct contribution to much of the despondency that contributes to people taking such desperate measures such as substance abuse and perhaps even suicide.”


And as the clock ticks down to the implementation of that new pension plan, Bruyea urged the government to reverse a course they say is heading “all downhill for veterans.”

This is the last Remembrance Day before veterans will be able to choose between the existing lump sum payment or the pension they say amounts to breaking that same payment up over the course of a lifetime.

The new pension plan is set to become available in April 2019.


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Post by Scorpion on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 9:05 am

Sean Bruyea - Page 3 FCXXTNFC4ZGEJERKZZUAINX7WE

Veterans' advocate fights back, appeals defamation case dismissed on basis of anti-SLAPP law

GLORIA GALLOWAY PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
OTTAWA
PUBLISHED: NOV 16, 2018

Veterans’ advocate Sean Bruyea is appealing the ruling of a small-claims court judge who dismissed his defamation suit against Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan saying the minister’s comments about Mr. Bruyea were a matter of public interest.

In a factum filed recently with the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Mr. Bruyea says Mr. O’Regan is the powerful party in the dispute and has used his position to discredit a private citizen expressing his opinion on a new government policy.

Mr. Bruyea is claiming $25,000 for the damage he says Mr. O’Regan did to his reputation in a column the minister wrote last March in the Ottawa newspaper, the Hill Times, when the two men were expressing differing opinions about whether veterans will be better off under the Liberal government’s proposed new Pension for Life program.

“This isn’t about money,” Mr. Bruyea, a former military officer who was diagnosed with PTSD after taking part in the Gulf War of the 1990s, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “It’s about sending a strong message to government that they can’t treat veterans this way. And it’s also to inspire veterans that they don’t need to fear government, that they too can have accessible justice.”

Mr. Bruyea disparaged the federal government’s proposed lifetime pensions in a column in the Hill Times in February. He calculated that they will pay disabled veterans who apply for benefits after March of next year less than those who are already in the system – and much less than what is given to veterans, like him, who applied before 2006 and fall under the old Pension Act.

Even though Veterans Affairs bureaucrats told Mr. O’Regan’s office that Mr. Bruyea’s numbers were largely correct, the minister in a column in the Hill Times accused his critic of “stating mistruths,” making “numerous other errors” and writing to suit his “own agenda.”

Mr. Bruyea sued Mr. O’Regan for defamation and opted to press the matter in small-claims court so he could mount his own defence without the aid of a lawyer.

But government lawyers acting on behalf of Mr. O’Regan convinced Deputy Judge David Dwoskin to throw out the case on the basis of Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act, an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law, which was created to discourage the use of litigation to stifle debate in the public interest.

Judge Dwoskin ruled in August that, as minister, Mr. O’Regan had a duty to speak on public issues and had the right to respond to criticism.

But Mr. Bruyea says the government’s use of the anti-SLAPP law to halt his suit is a “novel and troubling application” of that legislation.

He has hired well-known human-rights lawyer Paul Champ to argue his appeal. The factum that Mr. Champ filed with the appeal court says in typical SLAPP suits the more powerful party is the plaintiff and is using the courts to gag an individual citizen who is expressing views about matters of public interest.

“This case turns that dynamic on its head,” the factum says, “as the more powerful party is clearly the defendant, a federal cabinet minister, and not the plaintiff, a disabled veteran and private citizen.”

Using anti-SLAPP legislation as a shield to hide behind "while defaming and libeling a government critic surely perverts and distorts a law meant to encourage debate on matters of public interest,” the factum says.

The minister’s office said it could not comment on the matter because it is before the courts. The government has 60 days to respond and the case could be heard in the spring.

Mr. Bruyea has received some support from the public and the veterans’ community for his decision to move forward with the suit. A GoFundMe campaign he created to help with his legal fees has raised more than $3,000.

It is the first time, he said, that a case has gone straight from small-claims court to the Ontario Court of Appeals, instead of a lower court, because that is where anti-SLAPP appeals must be heard.

“If this is allowed to stand,” Mr. Bruyea said, “then any big player, such as government or industry or a wealthy individual, can bully and intimidate someone by attacking their character and then escape accountability by applying this anti-SLAPP law.”


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Post by Edgefore on Tue 18 Dec 2018, 9:08 pm

Why a military suicide should have been prevented — and why it wasn't

Canadian Forces veteran speaks out against the 'pernicious disease' of military secrecy

Sean Bruyea · for CBC News · Posted: Dec 18, 2018

Sean Bruyea - Page 3 Sean-bruyea

The Canadian military should have prevented Cpl. Nolan Caribou's suicide. Here's why I think it didn't.
Caribou was just 26, graduating with a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Winnipeg in October 2017. A month later on a military training exercise, the reservist died by suicide.

However, it wasn't until the CBC obtained documents about the investigation into Caribou's death that the military publicly admitted that the death was considered a suicide. Furthermore, we learned of three internal investigations, one ongoing.


Sean Bruyea - Page 3 Nolan-caribou

Secrecy is crucial for military operations. But it is also a pernicious disease that has prevented meaningful social and cultural change in the Canadian Forces for years.

Politicians have repeatedly called for openness and transparency in our democratic government. However, Canadians in uniform (and their families), who risk their lives to defend that same system of government, have been repeatedly denied that same openness and transparency.


Secrecy serves to cushion any accountability.

- Sean Bruyea


Such secrecy serves to cushion those responsible from any accountability, while insulating the system from meaningful change.

A year prior to his death, Caribou reported he was being bullied and harassed. Officers not only did nothing, but it's alleged there were Fight Club-like rituals. Harassment of Caribou continued.

Retired colonel and lawyer Michel Drapeau has long railed against the military's inadequacies when it comes to properly investigating and prosecuting its own members.

We have come to understand that tightly knit groups like doctors, lawyers, priests and police should not investigate themselves. When they do, the pattern is all too familiar. Organizations offer platitudes about improvement while the reprehensible behaviour continues.

Granted, Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, responsible for the 10,000 soldiers under his command, rightly acknowledged that the harassment of Caribou and the inaction of the leaders "could have contributed" to his death. Had the leaders "taken more decisive action … it is possible there would have been a different outcome."


A CBC News investigation has uncovered new information about the death of a Canadian soldier who told officers he was being bullied and tormented. Tim Laidler, a retired corporal and the executive director of the Centre for Group Counselling and Trauma at the University of British Columbia, discusses the pressures and the environment that led up to Cpl. Nolan Caribou's suicide. 7:48
Such sincere words are familiar. As recently as 2014, top Gen. Tom Lawson reported to Parliament that a 2012 military survey "shows that harassment of all types … has substantially diminished over the past 15 years." One year later, in response to a blistering report, Lawson's replacement, Jonathon Vance, declared that sexual harassment "stops now."

Military culture has been resistant to change because changing any organization's culture can be one of the most difficult leadership challenges an organization can face. Culture is the DNA of an organization and is embedded in every aspect of what that organization does.


Consummate closed in-group


Changing culture is like knowing nothing about how a car works and having to repair it while driving alone at 100 km/h on the expressway without stopping. Obviously, to repair the car, the driver must pull over, stop, and then call an outside expert.

Yet the military is a consummate closed in-group, resisting outside advice.

To join, all previous associations and attachments must be either diminished in importance or be completely renounced.

To do this, the military has a little-discussed but potent tool: indoctrination. Military indoctrination is the most powerful, legally sanctioned means of manipulating a human being.

The result: much that makes us an individual is replaced by all things military.


The greatest insult to a military member is to be referred to as a civilian.

- Sean Bruyea


Civilian friendships and birth family members are supplanted by comradery and the military family. Previous civilian achievements mean nothing.

In fact, the greatest insult to a military member is to be referred to as a civilian.

When members are harassed or bullied, to whom can they turn?

While the military professes it takes care of its own, stories abound of harassed and bullied members coming forward for help only to be further harmed by the organization they deeply trust.

This retraumatization was heartbreakingly alive and well in Nolan Caribou's attempts to seek help from military leaders.


There is a fine line between rights of passage and harassment.

- Sean Bruyea


There is a fine line between rites of passage and harassment in the military. Bullying and intimidation are considered necessary to tear soldiers down and build them up again in the military's image.

When the organization matters far more than the individual, the individual has little left of themselves to resist such abuse.

Not only was such a toxic culture unable to stop the abuse of Cpl. Nolan Caribou, sadly, I fear that repeats of his tragedy will likely continue for decades to come.




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Post by Hammercore on Wed 02 Jan 2019, 12:56 pm

Veterans Affairs skipped normal consultations to introduce new Pensions for Life for disabled vets

GLORIA GALLOWAY > PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2, 2019



Sean Bruyea - Page 3 PEZDXVHEENCMTIJB6UGH7XNND4


Veterans Affairs is being accused of avoiding consultations with veterans after introducing details of its Pensions for Life program.

The new pension plan, which will take effect in April, 2019, will save the government money, at least in the short term, and reduce the compensation awarded to many disabled soldiers. During the first four years of the plan, Ottawa will pay about $1.8-billion less, in total, to disabled vets than it would have under programs enacted during the Harper government. And critics say it has gone to some lengths to prevent veterans from having input.

“It’s a systemic attack upon veterans’ rights to be denied the chance to participate in the very democracy that they were willing to die to defend,” says Sean Bruyea, a veterans-rights advocate who is suing Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan for defamation as a result of comments the minister made in response to Mr. Bruyea’s criticism of the plan.

After taking office in 2015, the Liberal government created advisory groups of veterans to offer comment about new policies and laws affecting Canadians who have served in the military.

The government says a number of suggestions from the advisory groups were incorporated into Pensions For Life, but it did not ask the groups for feedback before announcing it in the days after Parliament broke for Christmas in 2017.

The legislation to enact the program was rolled into an omnibus budget bill in 2018. There was no discussion about it on the floor of the House of Commons, and very little at Commons committees.

Although there was an opening for public consultation in the spring of 2018 when the government announced its intention to publish regulations to put Pensions for Life into effect, there was no additional opportunity for comment after the regulations were released in September. At that point, veterans and other Canadians could see the details of what was actually being proposed.

That differs from the way the government normally does things, said Mr. Bruyea, a disabled vet who collects benefits under the Pension Act, the plan that predates the Harper government changes, and will not be affected by the new pension program.

For instance, public comment was allowed for 60 days after new regulations were introduced around air passenger protection, the legalization of cannabis, the disposal of hazardous waste, and the law governing electroplating and reverse etching.

The New Veterans Charter, which came into effect under the Conservatives in 2006, allowed a comment period after the proposed regulations were made public and before they were approved by cabinet.

When asked why there was no opportunity for public input after the regulations were published to enact the Pensions For Life, the Veterans Affairs department told The Globe and Mail that there is no requirement to publish regulations for consultation before they are approved.

“Cabinet may exempt regulatory proposals from pre-publication on a case-by-case basis, and the specific rationale for exempting pre-publication is protected under cabinet confidence,” the department said in an e-mail.

The department also pointed out that Mr. O’Regan has been travelling the country to explain the Pensions For Life to veterans and their families, “to get their feedback, [and to] ensure their voices are heard and their questions answered ...”

The new pension plan is designed to replace the compensation plan in the New Veterans Charter that is based largely on a lump-sum payment.

In response to questions provided recently by The Globe, Veterans Affairs Canada rejected the suggestion that the new pensions will result in a cost savings. But the department also did not dispute that it will spend less money over the first four years.

Although the new pensions were meant to provide more equal levels of compensation, many individual retired members of the military who apply for benefits on or after April 1 will receive less than they would have if they had applied before that date. And they will receive much less than they would have under the old Pension Act − owing to the fact that the new program has eliminated some benefits and merged the rest into one monthly pension payment.

The Veterans Affairs website highlights the example of a 25-year-old veteran named Lauren D. who is 100-per-cent disabled with amputations above the elbow and above the knee, and who also suffers from Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If Lauren lives to the age of 75, Veterans Affairs said in a recent e-mail that she would receive $690,000 in basic pain and suffering compensation through the new Pensions For Life plan, which is well more than the disability award of $360,000 that she would get under the current system.

Mr. Bruyea, on the other hand, says Lauren would get $1,590,000 over the course of her lifetime through the Pensions For Life Plan, but $2,500,328 if she applied for benefits before April 1. That is a difference of $910,328, created principally by the elimination of a career-impact allowance, which is one of the benefits that currently exists but will not under the Pensions for Life plan.

And the disparity is even greater between the new Pensions for Life and the old Pension Act, which would have paid her a total of $3,168,966. Veterans have been demanding the reinstatement of lifetime pensions that existed under the Pension Act.

“This is not what the Liberal government promised, it’s not what veterans were expecting,” Mr. Bruyea said, “and we are going to create a whole new generation of marginalized former soldiers.”



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Post by Masefield on Wed 02 Jan 2019, 2:51 pm

Hammercore wrote:
Veterans Affairs skipped normal consultations to introduce new Pensions for Life for disabled vets

GLORIA GALLOWAY > PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2, 2019



Sean Bruyea - Page 3 PEZDXVHEENCMTIJB6UGH7XNND4


Veterans Affairs is being accused of avoiding consultations with veterans after introducing details of its Pensions for Life program.

The new pension plan, which will take effect in April, 2019, will save the government money, at least in the short term, and reduce the compensation awarded to many disabled soldiers. During the first four years of the plan, Ottawa will pay about $1.8-billion less, in total, to disabled vets than it would have under programs enacted during the Harper government. And critics say it has gone to some lengths to prevent veterans from having input.

“It’s a systemic attack upon veterans’ rights to be denied the chance to participate in the very democracy that they were willing to die to defend,” says Sean Bruyea, a veterans-rights advocate who is suing Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan for defamation as a result of comments the minister made in response to Mr. Bruyea’s criticism of the plan.

After taking office in 2015, the Liberal government created advisory groups of veterans to offer comment about new policies and laws affecting Canadians who have served in the military.

The government says a number of suggestions from the advisory groups were incorporated into Pensions For Life, but it did not ask the groups for feedback before announcing it in the days after Parliament broke for Christmas in 2017.

The legislation to enact the program was rolled into an omnibus budget bill in 2018. There was no discussion about it on the floor of the House of Commons, and very little at Commons committees.

Although there was an opening for public consultation in the spring of 2018 when the government announced its intention to publish regulations to put Pensions for Life into effect, there was no additional opportunity for comment after the regulations were released in September. At that point, veterans and other Canadians could see the details of what was actually being proposed.

That differs from the way the government normally does things, said Mr. Bruyea, a disabled vet who collects benefits under the Pension Act, the plan that predates the Harper government changes, and will not be affected by the new pension program.

For instance, public comment was allowed for 60 days after new regulations were introduced around air passenger protection, the legalization of cannabis, the disposal of hazardous waste, and the law governing electroplating and reverse etching.

The New Veterans Charter, which came into effect under the Conservatives in 2006, allowed a comment period after the proposed regulations were made public and before they were approved by cabinet.

When asked why there was no opportunity for public input after the regulations were published to enact the Pensions For Life, the Veterans Affairs department told The Globe and Mail that there is no requirement to publish regulations for consultation before they are approved.

“Cabinet may exempt regulatory proposals from pre-publication on a case-by-case basis, and the specific rationale for exempting pre-publication is protected under cabinet confidence,” the department said in an e-mail.

The department also pointed out that Mr. O’Regan has been travelling the country to explain the Pensions For Life to veterans and their families, “to get their feedback, [and to] ensure their voices are heard and their questions answered ...”

The new pension plan is designed to replace the compensation plan in the New Veterans Charter that is based largely on a lump-sum payment.

In response to questions provided recently by The Globe, Veterans Affairs Canada rejected the suggestion that the new pensions will result in a cost savings. But the department also did not dispute that it will spend less money over the first four years.

Although the new pensions were meant to provide more equal levels of compensation, many individual retired members of the military who apply for benefits on or after April 1 will receive less than they would have if they had applied before that date. And they will receive much less than they would have under the old Pension Act − owing to the fact that the new program has eliminated some benefits and merged the rest into one monthly pension payment.

The Veterans Affairs website highlights the example of a 25-year-old veteran named Lauren D. who is 100-per-cent disabled with amputations above the elbow and above the knee, and who also suffers from Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If Lauren lives to the age of 75, Veterans Affairs said in a recent e-mail that she would receive $690,000 in basic pain and suffering compensation through the new Pensions For Life plan, which is well more than the disability award of $360,000 that she would get under the current system.

Mr. Bruyea, on the other hand, says Lauren would get $1,590,000 over the course of her lifetime through the Pensions For Life Plan, but $2,500,328 if she applied for benefits before April 1. That is a difference of $910,328, created principally by the elimination of a career-impact allowance, which is one of the benefits that currently exists but will not under the Pensions for Life plan.

And the disparity is even greater between the new Pensions for Life and the old Pension Act, which would have paid her a total of $3,168,966. Veterans have been demanding the reinstatement of lifetime pensions that existed under the Pension Act.

“This is not what the Liberal government promised, it’s not what veterans were expecting,” Mr. Bruyea said, “and we are going to create a whole new generation of marginalized former soldiers.”




I agree benefits will be less after April 1, 2019.

They are eliminating 6 benefits.

As of April 1, 2019, the Department will automatically move Veterans in receipt of Career Impact Allowance (CIA) over to the Additional Pain & Suffering Compensation (APSC)—they will move over at the same Grade Level (1, 2 or 3) and will be paid the corresponding, non-taxable APSC monthly amount (not the taxable CIA monthly amount). No re-assessment of the Veteran's extent of impairment is required.

Veterans applying now, and up until March 31, 2019, for the Career Impact Allowance (CIA) will have their applications processed under current criteria for the CIA. Veterans who are approved for CIA will have their CIA grade level protected under the Additional Pain and Suffering Compensation (APSC).

Veterans who have an application pending on the coming into force date (April 1, 2019) and who are approved for CIA will have their CIA grade level protected under the APSC. This means, if you are approved for CIA and assessed at Grade Level 2, you will receive your CIA payments for the period prior to April 1, 2019, and you will be paid APSC at the same grade level with an effective date of April 1, 2019.

In any event Career Impact Allowance will no longer exist after April 1 if not applied for prior to April 1.

Regarding the CIA Supplement the following is written;

No Veteran in receipt of the CIA Supplement will receive less than the amount(s) of Earnings Loss Benefit, Retirement Income Security Benefit, and Career Impact Allowance Supplement they were eligible for prior to the implementation of the Income Replacement Benefit. These amounts will be protected on coming into force and will be indexed.

The CIA Supplement as it stands is a payable Monthly benefit by itself, after April 1 the CIA Supplement will be eliminated. Eliminating this also proves the PFL is worse than pre April 1 NVC.

As Mr. Bruyea so rightfully points out the PFL is worse than the NVC.

The NVC is worse than the Pension act.

I think Veterans Affairs is making things worse for Veterans as we move forward over the years for our benefits. VAC doesn't seem to think so with all the hype, town halls as they praised the PFL.

Thank you Mr. Bruyea for setting the record straight!
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Post by Trooper on Wed 02 Jan 2019, 7:50 pm

Masefield wrote:
Hammercore wrote:
Veterans Affairs skipped normal consultations to introduce new Pensions for Life for disabled vets

GLORIA GALLOWAY > PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2, 2019



Sean Bruyea - Page 3 PEZDXVHEENCMTIJB6UGH7XNND4


Veterans Affairs is being accused of avoiding consultations with veterans after introducing details of its Pensions for Life program.

The new pension plan, which will take effect in April, 2019, will save the government money, at least in the short term, and reduce the compensation awarded to many disabled soldiers. During the first four years of the plan, Ottawa will pay about $1.8-billion less, in total, to disabled vets than it would have under programs enacted during the Harper government. And critics say it has gone to some lengths to prevent veterans from having input.

“It’s a systemic attack upon veterans’ rights to be denied the chance to participate in the very democracy that they were willing to die to defend,” says Sean Bruyea, a veterans-rights advocate who is suing Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan for defamation as a result of comments the minister made in response to Mr. Bruyea’s criticism of the plan.

After taking office in 2015, the Liberal government created advisory groups of veterans to offer comment about new policies and laws affecting Canadians who have served in the military.

The government says a number of suggestions from the advisory groups were incorporated into Pensions For Life, but it did not ask the groups for feedback before announcing it in the days after Parliament broke for Christmas in 2017.

The legislation to enact the program was rolled into an omnibus budget bill in 2018. There was no discussion about it on the floor of the House of Commons, and very little at Commons committees.

Although there was an opening for public consultation in the spring of 2018 when the government announced its intention to publish regulations to put Pensions for Life into effect, there was no additional opportunity for comment after the regulations were released in September. At that point, veterans and other Canadians could see the details of what was actually being proposed.

That differs from the way the government normally does things, said Mr. Bruyea, a disabled vet who collects benefits under the Pension Act, the plan that predates the Harper government changes, and will not be affected by the new pension program.

For instance, public comment was allowed for 60 days after new regulations were introduced around air passenger protection, the legalization of cannabis, the disposal of hazardous waste, and the law governing electroplating and reverse etching.

The New Veterans Charter, which came into effect under the Conservatives in 2006, allowed a comment period after the proposed regulations were made public and before they were approved by cabinet.

When asked why there was no opportunity for public input after the regulations were published to enact the Pensions For Life, the Veterans Affairs department told The Globe and Mail that there is no requirement to publish regulations for consultation before they are approved.

“Cabinet may exempt regulatory proposals from pre-publication on a case-by-case basis, and the specific rationale for exempting pre-publication is protected under cabinet confidence,” the department said in an e-mail.

The department also pointed out that Mr. O’Regan has been travelling the country to explain the Pensions For Life to veterans and their families, “to get their feedback, [and to] ensure their voices are heard and their questions answered ...”

The new pension plan is designed to replace the compensation plan in the New Veterans Charter that is based largely on a lump-sum payment.

In response to questions provided recently by The Globe, Veterans Affairs Canada rejected the suggestion that the new pensions will result in a cost savings. But the department also did not dispute that it will spend less money over the first four years.

Although the new pensions were meant to provide more equal levels of compensation, many individual retired members of the military who apply for benefits on or after April 1 will receive less than they would have if they had applied before that date. And they will receive much less than they would have under the old Pension Act − owing to the fact that the new program has eliminated some benefits and merged the rest into one monthly pension payment.

The Veterans Affairs website highlights the example of a 25-year-old veteran named Lauren D. who is 100-per-cent disabled with amputations above the elbow and above the knee, and who also suffers from Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If Lauren lives to the age of 75, Veterans Affairs said in a recent e-mail that she would receive $690,000 in basic pain and suffering compensation through the new Pensions For Life plan, which is well more than the disability award of $360,000 that she would get under the current system.

Mr. Bruyea, on the other hand, says Lauren would get $1,590,000 over the course of her lifetime through the Pensions For Life Plan, but $2,500,328 if she applied for benefits before April 1. That is a difference of $910,328, created principally by the elimination of a career-impact allowance, which is one of the benefits that currently exists but will not under the Pensions for Life plan.

And the disparity is even greater between the new Pensions for Life and the old Pension Act, which would have paid her a total of $3,168,966. Veterans have been demanding the reinstatement of lifetime pensions that existed under the Pension Act.

“This is not what the Liberal government promised, it’s not what veterans were expecting,” Mr. Bruyea said, “and we are going to create a whole new generation of marginalized former soldiers.”




I agree benefits will be less after April 1, 2019.

They are eliminating 6 benefits.

As of April 1, 2019, the Department will automatically move Veterans in receipt of Career Impact Allowance (CIA) over to the Additional Pain & Suffering Compensation (APSC)—they will move over at the same Grade Level (1, 2 or 3) and will be paid the corresponding, non-taxable APSC monthly amount (not the taxable CIA monthly amount). No re-assessment of the Veteran's extent of impairment is required.

Veterans applying now, and up until March 31, 2019, for the Career Impact Allowance (CIA) will have their applications processed under current criteria for the CIA. Veterans who are approved for CIA will have their CIA grade level protected under the Additional Pain and Suffering Compensation (APSC).

Veterans who have an application pending on the coming into force date (April 1, 2019) and who are approved for CIA will have their CIA grade level protected under the APSC. This means, if you are approved for CIA and assessed at Grade Level 2, you will receive your CIA payments for the period prior to April 1, 2019, and you will be paid APSC at the same grade level with an effective date of April 1, 2019.

In any event Career Impact Allowance will no longer exist after April 1 if not applied for prior to April 1.

Regarding the CIA Supplement the following is written;

No Veteran in receipt of the CIA Supplement will receive less than the amount(s) of Earnings Loss Benefit, Retirement Income Security Benefit, and Career Impact Allowance Supplement they were eligible for prior to the implementation of the Income Replacement Benefit. These amounts will be protected on coming into force and will be indexed.

The CIA Supplement as it stands is a payable Monthly benefit by itself, after April 1 the CIA Supplement will be eliminated. Eliminating this also proves the PFL is worse than pre April 1 NVC.

As Mr. Bruyea so rightfully points out the PFL is worse than the NVC.

The NVC is worse than the Pension act.

I think Veterans Affairs is making things worse for Veterans as we move forward over the years for our benefits. VAC doesn't seem to think so with all the hype, town halls as they praised the PFL.

Thank you Mr. Bruyea for setting the record straight!  

Great points made by Sean.

Right you are Masefield, and if I may add the Income Replacement Benefit which also comes into affect on April 1. The Income Replacement Benefit will be a disappointment I believe for those reaching 65. Only those without CF Pensions I believe will have a shot at qualifying for some amount from the Income Replacement Benefit. But the way VAC talks about this whole PFL they would make believe the Liberals are making things much better than the previous system.

As far as Veterans being able OR allowed to participate in the Veterans file it will only happen for PR purposes. The Veterans file is being run by the bureaucrats who will not allow anything being sent out for implementation that comes from outside of their circle. So the Minister says they listen to Veterans, and groups but it does not go beyond listening. They hold town halls, and summits just to polish their PR image. The outcome of the 6 advisory groups created was proof that these groups were created also to polish their PR image. The government is not going to act on anything that comes out from any source outside of the VAC bureaucratic circle.

As it stands now disabled Veterans on the old pension act are being taken care of well, and have that lifelong financial security. Those on the NVC are way worse off than their peers of the old Pension act. Now we are going to have the PFL which is going to put disabled Veterans worse off than the NVC.

And to top this all off, we have yet to see a Minister of Veterans Affairs since 2006 able to grasp the concept of this reality.

And further to this, the government has just been glorified with the supreme courts announcement from the Equitas law suit that the government is under no legal obligation to disabled Veterans.

At this point in the game the only thing disabled Veterans can do is to vote for who they think will be better for them come election time. Nothing really to choose from a Veterans point of view, but it still gives us that choice.
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Post by Victor on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 7:39 am


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Post by bogger on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 11:26 am


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Post by Vizzer1 on Wed 20 Feb 2019, 10:20 am

O’Regan asks court to throw out Bruyea’s suit, says he caused no harm to veteran’s reputation

GLORIA GALLOWAY PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
OTTAWA
PUBLISHED Feb 19, 2019

Seamus O’Regan, the former minister of veterans affairs, says a defamation suit launched against him by a veterans’ advocate should be thrown out because his statements were merely part of a political debate and the advocate’s reputation was not threatened.

In filing a response to the lawsuit commenced against him by Sean Bruyea, Mr. O’Regan, who is now Indigenous Services Minister, asks the Ontario Court of Appeal to agree with a lower-court ruling that the public interest served by the “measured and reasonable response” by the minister to a column written by Mr. Bruyea outweighs any harm Mr. Bruyea claims to have suffered.

“The central question is whether the meaning conveyed [by Mr. O’Regan’s written words] threatened the plaintiff’s actual reputation,” says the document, which was filed with the court this week. “The law of defamation is not meant to stifle public interest debate to compensate for any perceived slight.”

Mr. Bruyea is claiming $25,000 for the damage he says Mr. O’Regan did to his reputation in a column the then-Veteran Affairs minister wrote last March in the Ottawa newspaper, The Hill Times.

Mr. Bruyea had disparaged the federal government’s proposed lifetime pensions for disabled Armed Forces personnel in his own column in The Hill Times in February. He calculated that they will pay veterans who apply for benefits after March, 2019, less than those who are already in the system – and much less than what is given to veterans, like him, who applied before 2006 and fall under the old Pension Act.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer will assess the claims in a report to be released on Thursday.

Even though Veterans Affairs bureaucrats told Mr. O’Regan’s office that Mr. Bruyea’s numbers were largely correct, the minister responded in his column by accusing his critic of “stating mistruths,” making “numerous other errors” and writing to suit his “own agenda.”

Mr. Bruyea then sued Mr. O'Regan for defamation in small claims court.

But government lawyers acting on behalf of Mr. O’Regan convinced Deputy Justice David Dwoskin to throw out the case on the basis of Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act, an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law, which was created to discourage the use of litigation to stifle debate in the public interest.

Mr. Bruyea says the government’s use of the anti-SLAPP law to halt his suit is a “novel and troubling application” of that legislation. He has hired well-known human-rights lawyer Paul Champ to argue his appeal, which is scheduled to be heard on June 13.

The factum that Mr. Champ filed with the appeal court says that, in typical SLAPP suits, the more powerful party is the plaintiff and is using the courts to gag an individual citizen who is expressing views about matters of public interest.

In his response to the appeal, Mr. O’Regan says anti-SLAPP laws recognize the value of broad participation in public affairs. They also “encourage expression on matters of public interest by balancing the public interest in vindicating wrongful reputational harm with the public interest in protecting freedom of expression,” Mr. O’Regan’s statement says.

It goes on to say that Mr. Bruyea has provided no evidence that his reputation has been harmed and that, ultimately, what divided the veterans’ advocate and the minister “was not objectively verifiable scientific fact but opinion.”

Even so, says Mr. O’Regan’s statement, his opinion was “reasonably founded” and then goes on to cite some of the same e-mails sent to his office by officials in the Veterans Affairs department that say Mr. Bruyea’s numbers are mostly correct.

It also says there is nothing to suggest that his statements about Mr. Bruyea were motivated by malice.

“The Minister had a duty to speak broadly on issues of public concern to the electorate, and provide information with respect to programs administered by his department,” the statement says. “The Minister should be able to respond to criticism about the program he was responsible for without being made liable to defamation.”


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Post by Lincoln on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 8:27 am

Ottawa spent $60,000 to fight $25,000 defamation case against O’Regan, and will spend more before case is decided

GLORIA GALLOWAY PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
PUBLISHED March 3, 2019

The federal Liberal government spent $60,000 to defend a cabinet minister against a $25,000 defamation case launched against him by a disabled veterans’ rights activist, and it is expected to spend much more before the matter is resolved.

Sean Bruyea obtained Justice Department documents under Canada’s Access to Information (ATIP) law that show the government spent $59,039.85 in legal fees to defend former veterans affairs minister Seamus O’Regan, who is now the Minister of Indigenous Services, in a suit Mr. Bruyea filed in small-claims court.

“I was shocked,” Mr. Bruyea said. “They are willing to spend more than twice the amount in the small-claims court action than what it would have cost to settle.”

Mr. Bruyea said the amount disclosed in the heavily redacted documents was likely what the government spent between the time the suit against Mr. O’Regean was filed last May and Sept. 18, when the access request was made.

But it is impossible to know for sure because all of the dates have been removed from the documents, except for the year 2018, and an ATIP analyst at the Justice Department said in a letter to Mr. Bruyea last week that the date range is protected information.

A spokeswoman for Mr. O’Regan said the government cannot comment on the matter because the case is still before the courts.

The dispute goes back to a year ago when Mr. O’Regan was still in charge of the veterans portfolio.

Mr. Bruyea is claiming compensation for the damage he says Mr. O’Regan did to his reputation in a column the minister wrote last March in the Ottawa newspaper The Hill Times.

Mr. Bruyea had disparaged the federal government’s proposed lifetime pensions for disabled Armed Forces personnel in his own column in The Hill Times in February. He calculated that the pensions will pay some veterans who apply for benefits after March, 2019, less than those who are already in the system − and much less than what is given to veterans, such as him, who applied before 2006 and fall under the old Pension Act.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer said in a recent report that the federal government saved tens of billions of dollars over the lifetimes of disabled veterans by replacing the Pension Act with the New Veterans Charter in 2006. And, he said, some of the most disabled veterans will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of the changes introduced by Mr. O’Regan under the new Pensions for Life, which takes effect in April.

Even though staff in Mr. O’Regan’s department told his office last winter that Mr. Bruyea’s numbers were largely correct, the minister responded in his column by accusing his critic of "stating mistruths," making "numerous other errors" and writing to suit his "own agenda." Mr. Bruyea then sued Mr. O'Regan for defamation.

But government lawyers acting on behalf of Mr. O’Regan persuaded Deputy Justice David Dwoskin to throw out the small-claims case on the basis of Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act, a law that was created to discourage the use of litigation to stifle debate in the public interest.

Mr. Bruyea has now turned to the Ontario Court of Appeal and a hearing is scheduled to take place in Toronto on June 13.

The government, on behalf of Mr. O’Regan, filed a response last month asking the appellate court to agree with the lower-court ruling that the public interest served by the “measured and reasonable response” by the minister to Mr. Bruyea outweighs any harm Mr. Bruyea claims to have suffered.

The decision to fight the case will clearly cost more money, Mr. Bruyea said.

“Considering that they had to go through our appeal documents, as well as produce a 40-page response to that, I can comfortably say that that number is more than double [the $59,039.85 already spent] right now,” he said. “And that, by the time that they have to go to Toronto to defend the appeal in June, that it will be well over $200,000 in cost – so 10 times the amount it would cost them to settle.”





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Post by Lincoln on Wed 13 Mar 2019, 8:28 am

Canada needs a public inquiry into its treatment of veterans

The revolving door at Veterans Affairs is making Canada's relationship with veterans even worse


Sean Bruyea · for CBC News · Posted: Mar 13, 2019

Sean Bruyea - Page 3 Trevor-sanderson-and-dick-groot-camp-at-the-veterans-memorial-building
Veterans and their families need to tell the story of how they have been repeatedly stigmatized, marginalized, betrayed, and abandoned by the government system they were willing to die defending. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)



Lawrence MacAulay is Canada's new veterans affairs minister. Don't bother learning the name.

He is the fifth veterans affairs minister of this Liberal government, and the 18th from the time of the Chretien government. Whereas the defence and finance files, for example, have been steered by just one minister each since the Trudeau Liberals formed government, Veterans Affairs has been practically a revolving door.

Both Conservative and Liberal governments have had bad relationships with Canada's veterans. The lack of stability on the portfolio is undoubtedly part of the problem. How can anyone make headway on the problems that continue to plague veterans — on pensions, resources and supports — if the minister in charge keeps changing?

But there are things that a motivated government can do to fix this.

More money and more employees will help. But we are dealing with a public service that is often lethargic, cautious, insensitive and self-serving. Veterans Affairs at the senior levels can manifest the worst inclinations of that bureaucratic mentality. And it certainly doesn't help that the office is isolated in Charlottetown, where vainglorious initiatives can blossom outside the eye of national watchdogs.

Indeed, Veterans Affairs is the only federal department with its head office located outside Ottawa. That matters. The file will always been considered "second tier" as long as it is out of sight, quite literally, from the decision-makers in Ottawa.


Big-picture changes

But fundamental change will require more than a change of address. Parliament can be empowered to think and act big: we did it after World War II, when Canada developed arguably the world's best veteran re-establishment and rehabilitation program. However, politicians will need a huge stamp of public approval to affect a sea of change in bureaucratic and political culture.

A fulsome public inquiry into Canada's treatment of veterans could provide that approval. An inquiry offers national healing; we would hear tragic stories of family disintegration, lost souls, and suicide, as well as accounts of hope and success. Above all, veterans and their families need to tell the story of how they have been repeatedly stigmatized, marginalized, betrayed, and abandoned by the government system they were willing to die defending.

If this sounds familiar, it is. Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1991 to 1996 and later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, engaged government as well as Canadians nationwide. They chronicled the stories, promises, problems and policy changes in a comprehensive, methodological way, as well as provided blueprints for change going forward.

Though their ordeals are by no means the same, both Indigenous Canadians and veterans share in the experience of suffering at the hands of the governments. Both were placed in vulnerable positions, then promised help and sanctuary in exchange for immense sacrifices. Instead, they were betrayed.



Sean Bruyea - Page 3 Lawrence-macaulay
Lawrence MacAulay speaks to reporters shortly after being sworn in as the new minister for veterans affairs. (CBC)



Veterans need to feel they belong to the nation and communities for which they sacrificed. Yet less than 60 per cent of veterans feel a strong sense of community belonging.

As with most truth and reconciliation processes, participants can heal by telling their stories. And government might be better compelled to act on their promises if ministers directly engage with veterans in a comprehensive manner.

An independent commission with a broad mandate would also generate a degree of publicity that the odd press conference or special event could not, which is important to giving the portfolio the attention and resources it deserves. And to make sure recommendations are implemented as promised, the government might want to consider installing a permanent and independent veterans' ombudsman — someone who reports to Parliament, not to the particular minister in charge (which is especially important when the minister keeps changing).

It makes smart political sense to do all of this. Veteran disaffection isn't getting any better, and governments follow poor bureaucratic instincts and initiatives at their own peril. By doing things differently, we can meaningfully welcome home our veterans with more than just empty government rhetoric.


Disclosure: The author is currently involved in a defamation lawsuit against former Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan.






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