Cornwall ON – That was a brutal press conference yesterday as out-going Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran spoke out to support the men and woman who have served in our armed forces and those police officers who have also served abroad.
It makes you wonder just how bad the situation is, when a former senior military officer who spent years dealing with military red tape throws up his hands in disgust. Stogran has highlighted some of the serious issues that he encountered when dealing with the department that is charged with helping the men and women who served this country.
Canadians should be shocked and angered at the comments made by Stogran and others at that press conference. He has a point about the difficulty of getting answers from the department. I suggest media types track down former ministers and staff and see if Stogran’s view of the department is accurate. Has he ruffled a few feathers? I am sure his blunt talking style has not earned him any friends in the department. Yet the very qualities that made Stogran a top soldier are the ones needed to make sure our vets get the help they need when they need it. Forcing them to go to court to get benefits is unacceptable. In uniform, Stogran represented the best Canada could offer, as a commander it was his job to look out for his troops. As Ombudsman he has continued that role and defended the interests of the men and women who have given so much serving our country. Shaking up that department is exactly what it needs.
The Veteran’s Charter was passed by Parliament during the Liberal tenure and proclaimed by the Harper government. Certainly on the political side, I believe that everyone and that includes all parties, felt they were acting in the best interests of our veterans. If it is flawed and it appears that some parts of it might be, then changes should be made. Any government regardless of its political stripe should be supported by all parties in the House should it decide to review the Charter and financial compensation packages our country offers our vets and their widows. This is too important an issue to let it degenerate into the usual political name calling we see day after day in the House of Commons.
This is an opportunity for the leaders of the opposition parties and the Prime Minister to work together in a constructive manner. Stogran’s comments should be followed up on, there should be a review. Whether such a review could be conducted by a standing committee or by some other means, perhaps a joint committee of the Senate and House, as that would help to remove the partisanship we usually see at committees. Our politicians need to step up and serve the best interests of the men and women who when called upon stepped up to serve Canada time and time again. It’s the least we can do for them, anything less is unacceptable.
Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.
Keith – Can you see this PM working together with anyone in a constructive manner?