Remember those who gave their lives
Remembrance Day, November 11, 2005 is approaching in this the “Year of the Veteran”
Sixty years have flashed by since the end of W.W.2 and now, the survivors will gather to remember fallen comrades whose bones lie in foreign fields throughout the world.
Along with those who were engaged in that insanity will be our politicians who will perform the roles expected of them; placing wreaths and honouring those who died that those to follow would live in freedom. The surviving veterans, all now aged, will be recalling those days of comradeship and dependency where survival rested on those friends with whom they fought.
Canada provided support and assistance to all surviving veterans of all the wars in which it has been engaged. That was so until 1995 when our P.M., Paul Martin, then the finance minister, excluded all Allied veterans from the veterans’ programs if they had not been domiciled in Canada when they enlisted. This imposed distinction excludes many veterans who fought alongside their Canadian born comrades under the flag that was Canada’s, The British Ensign. These veterans, Canadian citizens for many years longer than they had lived in the countries of their births have, by this single act by Martin, been reduced to third class citizens.
Following W.W.2. most of our parliamentarians were ex servicemen and included all veterans in the benefits umbrella Canada offered to those who had elected to make Canada their permanent home as well as survivors of Canada’s armed forces. There was no distinction made that would ignore any veteran’s needs.
In a recent appeal to the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, sent via our M.P., David Tilson, the growing needs of these ancient warriors stated and it was requested that a policy review be considered. The minister, she herself an immigrant responded later that there was to be no policy review and confirmed that the status of non Canadian born veterans was to remain which leaves them to wonder if and when they will ever be embraced as Canadians and treated as are their brothersin arms, the Canadian born veteran.
The Honourable Minister’s letter read, in part: “The new Veterans’ Charter has been specifically designed to meet the needs of those modern-day veterans and their families, who served or continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. Prior to this legislation being approved the array of benefits available to this specific group of veterans was not as comprehensive or coordinated as they should have been to address the new and emerging needs of Canada’s Forces members which, I believe, are uniquely different to the needs of traditional wartime veterans.”
Madam Minister does not appear to understand that a wound received in combat is equally as debilitating in 2005 as it was in1944, and age is the respecter of no one it overtakes us all.
The old Allied veterans now require assistance to remain independent in their homes until such time as Lights Out sounds. That consists of help with snow clearance, house work and gardening, not a heavy drain on the $42 billon dollar surplus Canada enjoys, especially when one considers the $298 million set aside in the 2005 budget to “facilitate newcomer integration into the economy and society over the next five years” How conveniently short are the memories of our elected representatives!
Remember, these are the men and women who sacrificed their youths and gave their formative years to the eradication of the Nazi and Japanese threats to the civilized world. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was intended to ensure equality and fairness for all Canadians, but it appears this Liberal government is selective in its interpretation and remains committed to the exclusion of all Allied veterans.
Ken Hayward Town of Mono