UNDER MISCELLANEOUS: Talking of mild weather and veterans’ rights

Sentinel columnist Allan Hewitson talks about the area's mild weather and the ongoing troubles with Canada's veterans.

All across Canada and the United States recently, bad weather  has been the story of the day.

Ice storms, heavy snow dumps, blowing snow banks, freezing wind chill numbers, blizzards, floods, closed schools, frozen pipes, heating-related fires, power and natural gas failures, cancelled flights, shut-down public transit, burst water mains and hundreds of weather men and women standing outside in the lousy weather reporting the bad news.

However, I really haven’t heard much about the big weather news for people like Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert, where – to be honest – I can not remember it green at the end of January since I came here in 1980.

I can remember, because it was exceptional, one non-white Christmas and one non-white Boxing Day, when I weeded my vegetable garden.

No snow is a big story that seems to pretty well remain uncovered in Kitimat. I have no doubt Kitimat people are as amazed as I am and are talking about it amongst themselves, but somewhat behind their hands, not wanting to jinx it or to possibly dare Mother Nature to remember again, we’re still here, and generally able to take care of it ourselves, if she does bring back snow and cold.

So, far be it from me to jinx it either, but it sure is fine by me.

It’s cold in Ottawa too and Parliament is back in action (or is Parliament inaction is back?)

Cold, yes, but is there a way to check the temperature deep in Veterans Affairs Minister, Julian Fontano’s heart?

Or the uncaring and flippant attitude of the Prime Minister to veterans’ problems, despite the eye-opening eight veteran suicides, servicemen who survived overseas action at physical and mental costs to themselves, but were unable to find sufficient support and assistance from the federal government department charged with looking after their interests.

If the Minister is disinclined to listen fairly to the real concerns of the people he represents (under self-imposed pressure to follow government economic objectives that impact these constituents) he should think hard about whether he is in the right job.

A Minister’s salary, however makes a big difference on how an MP acts and with his personal intransigent history, few would expect Fantino to be moved, or the PM either.

I’ve said it before and I say it again, the “I apologise (for what I said or did) and  now let’s move on” strategy is insulting and hypocritical in parliamentarians. People at that level must be held accountable for their actions and words.

Incidentally, Newfoundlander Paul Davis, a spokesman for veterans, is also a Legion member and a Canadian senior.

In the face of refusal to change the decision to close offices, he has vowed to campaign against the Conservatives in the next election.

Few seniors today do not have someone who served or gave his life for Canada in numerous wars and actions, so if they agree with the veterans point of view, well, that’s a lot of people (and votes.)

At least one veterans group had promised to campaign against the Harper Conservatives because of a stand taken by federal lawyers, who argue the country holds no extraordinary social obligation to ex-soldiers.

Continued on page 5

The lawyers, fighting a class-action lawsuit in B.C. asked a judge to dismiss the court action filed by injured Afghan veterans, saying Ottawa owes them nothing more than what they have already received under its controversial New Veterans Charter.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, speaking at a Parliament Hill news conference said that  since the First World War, the federal government had recognized it had a “sacred obligation” to veterans — and that notion was abandoned with the adoption of the veterans charter by the Conservatives.

Blaid said the veterans asked  the government to stand down on this ridiculous position and to accept the obligation that successive generations of Parliament have wilfully embraced.

Veterans of Afghanistan deserve the same commitment as those who fought in the world wars, he insisted.

The lawyers, fighting a class-action lawsuit in B.C. asked a judge to dismiss the court action filed by injured Afghan veterans, saying Ottawa owes them nothing more than what they have already received under its controversial New Veterans Charter.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, speaking at a Parliament Hill news conference said that  since the First World War, the federal government had recognized it had a “sacred obligation” to veterans — and that notion was abandoned with the adoption of the veterans charter by the Conservatives.

Blais said the veterans asked  the government to stand down on this ridiculous position and to accept the obligation that successive generations of Parliament have wilfully embraced.

Veterans of Afghanistan deserve the same commitment as those who fought in the world wars, he insisted.

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