On Saturday, November 6, 2010, military and RCMP veterans will hold a protest outside the Nanaimo constituency office of Conservative backbencher James Lunney over the Tory government’s treatment of veterans. The group will rally at 6894 Island Highway North (beside Canadian Tire) at 11 am and concerned citizens are invited to join in.
This protest is over a Conservative Party policy of paying veterans lump sums for injuries suffered in the War in Afghanistan. Previously war casualties had received lifetime pensions but in 2006 the Conservatives brought in the lump sums to save money due to the rising cost of the war. The Tories have also implemented a clawback on the pensions of older veterans, heaped taxes on payouts to widows, and continued the policy of reducing veteran’s pensions as soon as they reach the age of 65. The Conservatives have also tried to sweep physical and psychological issues related to Agent Orange under the carpet.
All of this is rather ironic considering that Stephen Harper and his flag-waving Conservative Party of Canada are strident warmongers willing to send young Canadians to their deaths in a foreign war to curry favor with the US government. Tens of billions of dollars of Canadian tax money is being wasted to clean up a mess created in the 1980s by the American CIA and exacerbated by wrong-headed Canadian and American foreign policies in the Middle East.
Of course, the protest this Saturday isn’t about ending the war. It’s about receiving proper compensation for fighting it. At last report Canada will withdraw our soldiers from Afghanistan in 2011 despite heavy pressure from NATO and the Americans to reverse the decision. That will put Canada in a position to slash our military budget and spend the money on things which matter a lot more to Canadians. Additional savings could be found by cancelling orders for new fleets of aircraft and other expensive toys for the general staff. These are things for James Lunney to consider.