Afghan veterans treated shamefully

The Telegram
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After reading an article in the Vancouver Sun a while back, I want to share my disbelief that I am represented by a federal government who would spend taxpayers’ dollars to have lawyers draft a defence of “no special obligation to those who’ve fought wars on behalf of Canada” and that “it’s unfair to bind the Harper government to promises made nearly a century ago by another prime minister.”

This is in response to a class-action lawsuit by Afghan veterans who claim a 2006 overhaul of benefits is discriminatory under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We entice brave young souls to join our Armed Forces, send them off to face unimaginable horrors and, when they return maimed physically and psychologically, our federal government attempts to claim no responsibility for their subsequent rehabilitation, welfare and support. I am dumbstruck that our government could make such a statement. This is the first time I have ever felt challenged to say I am proud to be a Canadian.

I suppose this is why so many people don’t vote. A majority government doesn’t give the federal Conservatives the right to try to hang a vulnerable segment of our population to whom we all owe a debt out to dry, all for the sake of the bottom line. Instead of worrying about political capital, I would suggest our prime minister worry about and invest in human capital.

If we cannot honour the words of  Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden, who on the eve of Vimy Ridge pledged to our troops, “The government and the country will consider it their first duty to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home, that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.”

How can we consider ourselves a First World country? How can we consider ourselves Canadian with any sense of pride?

Lawyers may tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper he has the unfettered discretion to change policy set by previous governments, but in this case, does he have the moral right to do so?

I would expect that the prime minister hopes and expects his words will be honoured by future administrations. However, if future governments treat his words with the same respect he is treating Prime Minister Borden’s, then perhaps the best he can hope for is to be remembered as the prime minister who sold out our troops and our veterans for the sake of a budgetary line item.

I am hoping that like-minded Canadians will take the opportunity to not only write the prime minister, but their MPs, and ask

them to reconsider this shameful position.

Kim Heyman

Beaumont, Alta.

Geographic location: Vimy Ridge, Flanders

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