When the Liberals swept to power in Canada’s 2015 federal election, a lot of people were excited.
Not least among them were Canada’s veterans.
Justin Trudeau went out of his way–or so it seemed–to court veterans with promises to improve service delivery and reinstate a lifelong disability pension.
The promises followed years of political disagreements between veterans and the Conservative governments of Stephen Harper, which abolished the disability pension in 2006 with support from all federal parties and replaced it with rehabilitation programs and financial compensation for injured soldiers.
How’s the new relationship working out so far?
Probably best not to ask any veterans, who have watched three Veterans Affairs Ministers–Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Judy Wilson-Raybould (very, very briefly)–come and go since that election.
The post is now held–part-time–by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
And that’s just the optics.
“It’s like the veterans are the last priority in this story,” Afghan war veteran Aaron Bedard told CBC News when asked about the cabinet machinations.
“We don’t have a minister of Veterans Affairs anymore,” says Bedard, who led an unsuccessful legal battle against the government to reinstate the old disability pension.
“Our key concern is there’s been a betrayal of the commitment that the prime minister made in the election of 2015,” Brian Forbes, chair of the National Council of Veterans Associations, told CBC News.
To be fair, if the Liberals have seen their Veterans Affairs minister come and go, so did the Conservatives, who had three in less than three years leading up to the 2015 election.
If your counting, that makes seven in the last decade.
“It just makes it difficult to get work done,” Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada, told the CBC.
Like a lot of other veterans, he is not happy about the current state of affairs.Listen