26 April 2005
The Royal Canadian Legion
The Royal Canadian Legion is a self-funded, apolitical, non-partisan organization of 400,000 members from coast to coast in Canada that has two major priorities, the care of our veterans and the perpetuation of Remembrance.
The latest movement by the government of the day to introduce legislation to the benefit of those who have served in the military forces of this nation is in danger of being lost because of the political uncertainty that surrounds us all. And it is a shame.
The Legion also regrets that calls have been made by some veterans and disgruntled citizens for veterans on parade at the upcoming 11 November Remembrance Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to turn their backs on the Governor General when she takes the dais for the Royal Salute on her arrival and when she lays her wreath. Such action would be a disgrace and an offence to Her Majesty as well as to the memory of our fallen veterans.
It means our veterans will suffer, as has been the case for years in this country as many can tell you. But let me first clarify the point of what constitutes a veteran in our eyes. And I do not mean war veteran as defined by those who took part in World War I, World War II or the Korean War.
As far as we in the Legion are concerned today it means anyone who has volunteered for military service and has been sworn in as a service person. It simply means one who is willing to go where the government decides he or she is most needed.
Make all the arguments you wish about training, postings or whatever, but don’t try to tell a mother or a father these days about who is entitled to what designation if their son or daughter has been to the Gulf, Pakistan, the Middle East, numerous African nations and places around the world of which many of our citizens have not heard. They have all earned the title they so richly deserve. But what do they get in return ?
In the past few years successive governments of Canada have tried to keep up with the changing requirements brought on by military service under the current legislation. The result has been a lack of availability of certain services because the rules in place are not in line with what is happening or what is required.
They do not take into account the differences that have come into being since the last war veteran served in Korea. But there are numerous differences as we have brought forward to the government’s attention many times over the past years.
We, along with other veterans organizations, responsible government agencies and many other Canadians have worked long and hard to bring change to bear on this situation. And now that we are within arm’s reach of having legislation put in place to protect those who protect us politics rears its ugly head again and threatens to kill all of the work and sacrifice made to ensure our greatest Canadians get what they deserve.
If there is one ounce of decency in the combination of parties and people we call Parliament they all owe it to our veterans, old and new, to make every effort to pass the legislation now in play as proposed by Veterans Affairs Canada. To do less would be to indicate to every Canadian veteran that their sacrifices for this nation were a waste of time and personal energy.
Regardless of what has happened and what may happen in the government of the day, one major issue stands out. Our veterans are not being treated with the respect and honour they deserve, especially from the political parties of this nation that would see them once again denied benefits for the sake of the few who would rather access a position of power than pay appropriate tribute to those who ensure their right to so do.
The proper tribute - the placement of the New Veterans Charter into the laws of this land now. Those in power and those who can wield the balance of power have the opportunity to do just that. And they must, or prove that they have already forgotten our men and women who give so much for so little other than the title “Canadian veteran”
For further information please contact Bruce Poulin at Dominion Command, The Royal Canadian Legion, at (613) 591-3335 ext. 241 or by cell at (613) 292-8760.
BACK TO INDEX OF HEADLINES