Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stockwell Day Exploits Veterans for Political Gain

Stockwell Day has proven time and again that he is not in politics for us. He is only it for himself.

But perhaps one of his worst acts (and that's saying something considering his record), was when he exploited Canada's veterans for political gain.

Not the first or last to do it, but the way it was done raised the ire of these brave men and women who deserve better.

You might wonder why I would bring this up now, but considering the fact that the Conservatives are mining Michael Ignatieff's writings and videos from decades ago, I thought I'd do a little prospecting myself.

These stories reveal a pattern, and took place not while Day was a private citizen, but when he was an elected official.

McDonough has company on home turf
November 11, 2000
Globe and Mail

Halifax — Stockwell Day and Alexa McDonough spent an awkward Remembrance Day together on Saturday, after the Canadian Alliance leader invited himself into the NDP leader's home turf for the elaborate memorial ceremony in this historic port city.

Ms. McDonough has laid a wreath in the Halifax ceremonies before, and so organizers were pleased to have her again this year. But the participation of a second political leader was unprecedented, and for many in the audience of about 2000, also unwelcome.

"He's just looking for votes. I think it's wrong," said Jerry Blumenthal, a local councillor.

"I'm not impressed with Stockwell," added 78-year-old Percy Lambert, a veteran of the Second World War.

While some of the ceremony participants said they didn't mind Mr. Day joining in, and Ms. McDonough said she had no problem with it, many others in the audience or who laid wreaths said Mr. Day was "opportunistic" and "inappropriate."

Ms. McDonough said she would not campaign today out of respect for the veterans, but she did attend several military events anyway, and spoke out about the need for the Liberals to better recognize and compensate aboriginal veterans.

Behind the scenes, NDP staff were seething at having their leader share a stage with a rival. However, throughout the ceremony, Mr. Day was hidden by the war memorial, and the cameras could only get a clear shot of Ms. McDonough.

Halifax regularly has one of the biggest Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada. With its history of shipping soldiers off to war from the port, and with the Department of National Defence one of the largest employers in the province of Nova Scotia, the day is widely observed here.

"It through a loop into us when we first heard they were both coming," said master of ceremonies Tom Waters, a navy commander. Mr. Day's staff called to ask if he could attend the ceremony three days in advance, Commander Waters said.

"He just said he wanted to be in a service, a Remembrance Day service.... It was a request that he made."

Organizers told Mr. Day's camp that they would accommodate him, but warned him to keep his political agenda out of sight.

And yet:

Legion not impressed with Stockwell Day
November 14, 2000
CBC News

Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day received a luke warm welcome at a Dartmouth legion Saturday.

Legion members say they were upset reporters and television cameras followed Day as he mingled with veterans.

Day later apologized to the legion, insisting he didn't know the media would accompany him.
New Democrat officials were also upset by Day's last minute decision to lay a wreath at the same memorial as party leader Alexa McDonough.

The party claimed Day was attempting to steal the spotlight from McDonough in her home town.

All five federalist party leaders laid wreaths at Remembrance Day ceremonies honouring Canada's fallen war heroes Saturday.

Dirty politics. Ms McDonough showed class while Day revealed he had none. No wonder his own party gave him the boot.

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