So will Canada's top soldier Walter Natynczyk, be the next to feel the wrath of Steve?
Canada's top soldier, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, says concerns raised by the veterans ombudsman are "absolutely correct issues" and the controversial New Veterans Charter "doesn't work for everyone." At a news conference Friday, Natynczyk, the chief of the defence staff, was asked if veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran, whose term is not being renewed, has been doing a good job. "He has certainly voiced with clarity what the issues are," said Natynczyk, who held the news conference with his Dutch counterpart, Gen. Peter Van Uhm, who has been on an official visit to Canada.But as Gerald Caplin points out, Stevie simply chose the wrong person to do the job. He chose a man who actually stood up for the troops and didn't hide behind them.
It's a seeming paradox that one of the genuine contributions of the Harper government to the commonwealth was the creation of the latest of these public advocates, an independent Veterans' Ombudsman. But its purpose, we can now see, was to stand up for the Harper government against our war veterans. But in retired colonel named Pat Stogran, the government seemed to have selected the wrong man for the job. Stogran apparently shared the plausible assumption that the Harper government cared about the welfare of our troops not only in the field but when they returned home bearing the deep scars of their military experiences.And if you want to know what Harper's real priorities were, when it comes to Vets, according to Strogam: "“I was told by a senior Treasury Board analyst, who shall remain nameless, that it is in the government's best interest to have soldiers killed overseas rather than wounded because the liability is shorter term.”
This was an easy mistake to make. After all, anyone who had opposed the Harper government's war policies in Afghanistan were given the Joe McCarthy treatment, smeared as something close to traitors betraying the brave boys and girls who were putting themselves in harm's way in a distant land. As the Prime Minister repeatedly observed in a nice Orwellian twist, it was those who wanted to bring our young women and men home who were actually responsible for the danger they faced in the field.
Short term liabilities. I wonder if that's in the army manual. "At all times a soldier must try to die in battle because we simply can't afford to look after you if you don't. We do promise a parade if you will do this simple chore."
More than 1 in 5 Canadians soldiers are known to leave Afghanistan with psychiatric problems, though experts are certain this considerably lowballs the real figure, given what soldiers face there. A significant number return home deeply traumatized. As Pat Stogran discovered, to his horror, some of them become spouse abusers, drunk drivers, druggies, homeless, uncontrollably violent, attempted suicides and drunken thugs. Those who have endured multiple deployments become the walking wounded. Their families are often shattered, with all members facing their own psychological or physical nightmares.Whether you support the war or not, no Canadian should support this. These poor men and women are as much victims as those who lost their lives. The difference is, they are still being victimized.
I posted a partial list yesterday, of those who learned the hard day, what happens when they cross Stevie. Chantel Hebert mentioned some I had forgotten about:
Marc Mayrand: Canada's chief electoral officer has been locked in a legal battle with the Conservative Party over campaign spending.
Konrad von Finckenstein: There is speculation that the CRTC chair is in the government's crosshairs after refusing to fast-track Quebecor’s application for a top-category broadcasting licence for Sun TV’s planned Fox News clone.
Remy Beauregard: The former president of Rights and Democracy died this year after a stormy meeting with the Montreal rights agency's board, which is led by Conservative appointees.
Last winter’s prorogation backlash was unexpectedly strong. Over the summer, the level of engagement of Canada’s civil society on the census issue has been unprecedented, with otherwise Conservative-friendly constituencies among the vocal critics of the decision to abolish the long form. This week, the circle widened again to include more otherwise natural allies of the Conservatives like the veterans and the country’s police associations.Have they all been hypnotized or has Stevie demanded they all have lobotomies? I'm with the lobotomy thing because they are all acting so weird.
But there is still at least one significant constituency on which Harper’s approach to dissent apparently continues to work wonders. Apparently deaf to any voice other than their master’s, Harper’s MPs and senators have so far been content to dance to whatever tune the prime minister has taken a fancy to. On his watch, the cat seems to have gotten the tongue of even the most independently minded men and women who make up the cabinet and caucus.
An unidentified source sent me this from their last caucus meeting. Of course they may not have simply wished to be "unidentified", but maybe just don't remember their own name.