Monday, November 8, 2010

Rememberance Week

 Of course the weekend's veterans protests were planned well in advance for Remembrance week giving the Tories ample time to prepare a response that wouldn't alienate the majority of Canadians. So with time on their side they responded well in advance so as to tamp down criticism of their treatment and the compensating of injured veterans. A bunch of promises have been made about flexibility and different types of payouts and that all will be made right so far as the compensation goes, but the lump sums will continue the office of Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn has made clear.

 For those who don't have an understanding of what happens with lump sum payments and why this kind of compensation for injuries suffered on the battlefield is massively unfair to veterans, it's as simple as the money just generally runs out and depending on the individual, sometimes quite rapidly. There are other factors in the equation like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), depression, alcoholism, drug use and the inability to re-adjust to civilian life. As the man who has become the face of veterans fight for fairer treatment, Sean Bruyea says,  “We’re a country that’s based on fairness and equality. We’ve sent soldiers to fight for those values, to die for those values, why are we not treating all soldiers fairly and equally? Why are we not providing for all of them?”

That's a damned good question and it needs answering but how many have even heard the question let alone understood it? It's a terrible thing that we can send our armed forces into a war on the other side of the planet for reasons that are still unclear, with no description of what the success of the mission would look like and hardly anyone ever gives it a moments thought back here at home. But then to not take care of them when they return is unconscionable.

To top off remembrance week, the government announced a plan just today that will likely see Canada keep one thousand troops in Afghanistan past the July 2011 pull out date for training purposes. Maybe we can teach them how to pass the buck more effectively or how to hand over detainees to the NDS and never question what happens afterwards.

Here's some Rememberance Day music:



For me the day is as important a one as there is on the calendar. It should serve as a reminder that war in general and WW I in particular was a meat grinder, a maw that chewed up and spat out the lives of an entire generation of young men. In the end it was for nothing like all wars, and the treaty signed to bring about its' end served as a catalyst for the next worldwide conflagration.

The Mushy Middle

On Friday Gerald Caplan eviscerated Michael Ignatieff over his incomprehensible stands on Bill C-300, that called for accountability and transparency to the activities of Canadian mining companies operating around the world, and Bill C-393 an initiative to provide inexpensive AIDS drugs to poor countries in Africa. Both were the kind of bills that traditional Liberals have supported in the past and would no doubt be proud to stand up for now but not our Iggy.

 Mr. Ignatieff you should know can be dissuaded from most any principled stance on any issue by either, a) furious lobbying in the part of any corporate interest group or, b) a healthy dose of demagoguery and fear-mongering by PM Harper. That's it! That's all it takes and it's a sad commentary on the kind of leader the Liberals installed to lead their party in place of a man who may not have been telegenic but Stephane Dion at least stood for something.

Iggy abandoned bill C-300 not even showing up to vote while claiming it was a great bill and that somehow the bill and its defeat were some kind of victory. Well, if that represents victory to Mr. Ignatieff, I am in sincere dread of the next election. As for Bill C-393 it was originally introduced by the Liberals back in 2004 with much flourish and optimism. It was put in place to help Africa better and more affordably cope with the scourge of AIDS which has ravaged the continent by providing inexpensive AIDS drugs to poor countries. The bill was supported by UNICEF, Médecins sans frontières, Dignitas, AIDS-Free World, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, as well as international experts and tens of thousands of Canadians.

All this is of no matter to the leader of the opposition. There was intense lobbying! He would have had to take a stand and explain himself! Caplan suspects that Iggy feared it might have cost him some much needed votes in Quebec. Perhaps, but not nearly as many as not standing up for anything is going to cost him. Who is going to get fired up and knock on doors for a man whose embrace of wishy-washy politics is an embarrassment and not easily explained.