Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Canadian Veterans Advocacy's response to Minister J Fantino letter - Throne Speech

Canadian Veterans Advocacy's response to Minister J Fantino letter - Throne Speech

Be advised that the CVA press release on the throne speech, Minster Fantino's response and tour response, all of which has been posted at the Ottawa Citizen

October 29th, 2013

Minister Fantino,

Thank you publicly responding to the Canadian Veterans Advocacy press release in reference to the Harper Government's Throne Speech; as always, we are interested in engaging in dialog at any level, including this forum.

….Lest we Forget as Remembrance Day approaches that 150 Canadians died in Afghanistan under the Harper Government's stewardship of the War in Afghanistan.

Minister Fantino, I am well aware of the Afghanistan War's roll of Honour's composition and I have served with more than one whose name adorns the Seventh Book of Remembrance on Parliament Hill.

Sergeant Marc Leger, Cpl Ainsworth Dyer, Pte Richard Green and Pte Nathan Smith, PPCLI, were slain by friendly fire in April of 2002. A year and a half later, The Royal Canadian Regiment would sustain the nation's first KIA fatalities when Sgt Robert Short and Cpl Jamie Beerenfenger's lightly armoured jeep struck an IED. Over the course the next two years, two soldiers, Cpl Jamie Murphy and Pte Braun Scott Woodfield, RCR, were killed before Jan 15, 2006, when diplomat Glyn Berry became Canada's first civilian fatality when a suicide bomber attacked his vehicle.

Lest we forget.

During this period of time, Minister Fantino, Prime Minister Paul Martin stewarded Canada's war effort, their sacrifice occurred on his, not Prime Minister Harper's watch. Prime Minister Steven Harper was sworn in on Feb 6th, 2006 and enacted the New Veterans Charter on April 1st.

Since then, 150 members of the Canadians Forces have died as a consequence of war, non-combat injuries, even suicide… on Mr Harper's watch.

I am also profoundly disappointed that I must define the difference between the INCOME LOSS REPLACEMENT provisions accorded to disabled veterans through SISIP and ELB with the PAIN and SUFFERING pensions of the Pension Act and now, the Chump Sum Award provided under the New Veterans Charter. Lest we forget 6500 disabled veterans, united under the leadership of Dennis Manuge, were successful in attaining a major victory on this very principle.

The court ruled definitively that the government cannot take into consideration PAIN and SUFFERING Pension Act provisions that were specifically designed to recognize the Sacred Obligation we, as a nation, have to Canada's sons and daughters who have borne the repercussions of war and peace.

So let us focus our reader's attention on the pain and suffering quotient without distraction and in simple terms. Let us compare in a manner that respects our fallen, that defines the obligation to Canada's most seriously wounded veterans of the Afghanistan War and most importantly, highlights the consequences of failing to embrace the obligation.

June 6th, 1944, 0715, Sergeant Juno Beach, leading his platoon across the beach, steps on an anti personnel mine that explosively amputated both legs above the knees and killed three of his best friends. He sustains other serious injuries, the loss of his sexual organs, severe internal blast injuries that would result in years of operations. He is partially deafened by the blast and as the medic valiantly saves his life, the images of the mangled, lifeless bodies of his friends and the ring-muted, horrible pleas of the wounded, perhaps himself before the morphine took effect, remains forever etched on his mind.

Despite the seriousness of his wounds, Sergeant Juno Beach survives and lives sixty years. Although he will not longer enjoy intimacy, his wife has borne him two children prior to the catastrophic event, He is provided a PAIN and SUFFERING pension through the Pension Act in recognition of the bitter fact that his life has been forever changed as a consequence of a parliamentary decision to send him to war. Canada, once compassionate, recognized that his wife was the primary caregiver and provided a small supplementary pension. When her husband precedes her, she is entitled to a percentage of his VAC pension and VIP services, indeed, the Sacred Obligation accorded to Sergeant Juno Beach extends beyond his death. His children are also recognized with small supplementary pensions until they finish school and individual support when they leave the home to seek a college or university education.

Sergeant Panjawaii Valley, married with two kids, is deployed to Afghanistan with the Royal Canadian Regiment Battlegroup during the summer of 2006. At the height of Operation Medusa, on the morning of November 27, Sgt Panjawaii Valley was struck down when a 122mm mortar round detonated amongst his platoon as they advanced to contact against a determined foe. Bereft of legs in an heartbeat, deafened, the images of the dead and dying, the blood, the smell, the horror,,,, The battlefield angels, medics, would save the good sergeant's life and after years of corrective surgery, infections, multiple periods of hospitalisation, prolonged times of severe depression, PTSD…

Sgt Panjawaii Valley lives sixty years, As a consequences of the Harper Governments failure to embrace its Sacred Obligation, he is denied the life time recognition pension for pain and suffering provided to Sgt Juno Beach. Instead, he is provided a Chump Sum Award that is obscene when compared to the collective Pension Act provisions for PAIN and SUFFERING Sgt Juno Beach received. His wife, who will be responsible for his primary care, for ensuring he is fed, bathed, dressed, that his meds are administered according, who trembles in fear with her children or alone when the night terrors strike and or when prolonged bouts abject depression smothers the spirit of the entire family.

She receives nothing. The Sacred Obligation has been abandoned, her enormous sacrifice ignored. Once her husband passes, there will be no pension, no VIP as was provided to Sgt Juno Beach's spouse. Unable to seek a career, unable to provide for retirement, she is condemned for a short life of poverty. The children suffer equally, there is no supplementary pension to ensure their sacrifice and the that the impact of having a seriously physically and mentally wounded father is honoured. Nor is their any educational support when they finish school,

The disparity is obscene and six seriously wounded Afghanistan War veterans are taking the federal government to court. The wounded seek only the same Sacred Obligation this nation, without hesitation, provided to me and all disabled veterans/families who were lucky enough, if such a grotesque term can be applied, to be injured before the Harper Government enacted the NVC, April 1st, 2006.

These are the consequences of the New Veterans Charter, our obligation, our most Sacred Obligation, Minister Fantino, is to respond in good faith and focus on the needs of the Sergeant Panjawaii Valley's and their families

VIP Grant. By chance I recently spoke with an elderly veteran who expended the grant prematurely and when asked to supplement, it was still inadequate to the cost of legitimate services within his community. Others have been denied. More veterans will come forward, I am sure, as the first grant expires and they realize that the VIP regional rating system that poses the foundation of the Grant provides insufficient funding and the services veterans once had are diminished as a consequence of cutting red tape. It is inevitable.

RETRO-ACTIVITY - Earnings Loss Benefit – War Pensioners Allowance - I would take this opportunity to ask you, Minister Fantino, when the disabled veterans covered under the ELB and WPA will be compensated for the Pain and Suffering claw back? II understand that there was need for legislative reform in order to include the WPA clients into the equation yet these requirements have been satisfied.

When will the government recompense disabled veterans the monies that were clawed back from them prior to the Manuge decision.

Will the Harper government stand by it promise? Will you provide disabled veterans who are n ELB and WPA the same standard of retro-activity as provided to the 6500 SISIP victims?

Or, once again, will Canadian disabled veterans be forced to turn to the courts to seek justice, to have the Sacred Obligation applied to them as it has been to our brothers and sisters affected by the SISIP injustice?

I would encourage you to take a leadership role on the retro-activity issue, Minister Fantino and act with all due haste by embracing the true spirit of Remembrance and making a definitive statement that the Sacred Obligation to these men and women will be honoured, that the retro-active standards a set by the Manuge legal decision will be applied and veterans continuing to be victimized by this unjust policy can expect a cheque in the mail by Christmas!
On closing, I would hope these words inspire you to fulfill your obligation as Minister of Veterans Affairs, to ensure that the looming Comprehensive Parliamentary Review includes the issue of the Lump Sum Award, that this ridiculous Conservative premise that the Harper Government has no legal Social Contract for the wounded does not artificially obstruct parliamentary procedure.


Michael L Blais CD
President and Founder, Canadians Veterans Advocacy
Niagara Falls Canada

Please DO NOT disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail or any information contained within it without authors permission. This email and any files transmitted with it may be confidential and are intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify sender.

Michael L Blais CD
Founder/President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ont, Cda.
L2E 7K6 // 905-357-3306 // Cell 905-359-9247

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New announcement: Armistice Day, now called Remembrance Day

Armistice Day, now called Remembrance Day, is a day recognized around the world as a moment when quarrels are dropped and when we stand together to remember those who gave their lives in the service of Canada.

No issue is more important, no cause more noble, than the act of remembrance itself. No politician, myself included, no stakeholder, no individual has a monopoly on Armistice Day. Nor can any of us stake a claim to shift the focus of Armistice Day in our favour, for doing so undermines the remembrance we should be directing to the fallen.

In placing a wreath on the National War Memorial on November 11th, I do so not on my own behalf. I do so on behalf of all Canadian Veterans, as the representative of Canada's Government and the department of Veterans Affairs. That is who I represent at that time on that day.

We all share a responsibility to remember the fallen. How we do so is entirely up to us. Whether illustrated by the individual on the street who pauses while others do not. Or by the Canadian Armed Forces member who reminds his fellow soldiers to pause while standing in danger in Afghanistan. Or by a Member of Parliament, or indeed a Veterans advocate, who puts down their pen to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in remembrance of the fallen. One act of remembrance leads to another, as the individual who pauses on the street will surely be joined by someone else. Our collective goal on Armistice Day should be to encourage remembrance in others and no better way to accomplish this noble goal than through leading by example.

Remembrance Day has but one purpose. And I intend to stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone who feels the same. I hope you will join me.

Lest we forget.

The Honourable Julian Fantino PC, MP
Minister of Veterans Affairs

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Ottawa Tory organizer Daniel Dickin blasts ‘extreme’ veterans’ advocacy group

Ottawa Tory organizer Daniel Dickin blasts 'extreme' veterans' advocacy group


A battle is under way on social media as angry former soldiers accused the president of the Ottawa South Conservative Association of branding one of the country's veterans' advocates as "extreme" and claiming he and his group are threatening Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The blog post by Conservative organizer Daniel Dickin has incensed some veterans, who point out that former soldier Mike Blais never threatened anyone.

Veterans say Dickin and other government officials have undertaken a smear campaign against those like Blais who criticize the Conservative government for failing to meet the needs of former soldiers.

In an online post on his blog, Dickin wrote that Blais published ideas for what veterans could do on Remembrance Day, including booing Harper, spitting on him and egging MPs' offices.

"Unfortunately, simply by threatening violence against elected officials (including the Prime Minister) and vandalism against public offices, this group has lost all credibility as a non-partisan, professional advocate on behalf of Canadian veterans," Dickin wrote under the title, 'Extreme veterans group threaten to assault Prime Minister.'

He wrote that Canadian Veterans Advocacy, or CVA, has "taken a turn for the extreme."

But in the original Oct. 18 post in question, Blais actually stated that CVA does not condone protest and the list of disruptive activities he wrote about were "things suggested or I have read, heard in my travels about what veterans might do on R(remembrance) Day."

"I spoke briefly to our liaison in the minister's office this morning, as considering the nature of the traffic here lately, I felt it was important to reiterate, as president of the CVA, that we will not be active on R(emembrance) Day," Blais noted in his post.

He wrote he would not stifle discussion by frustrated veterans on the group's social network. But Blais also added, "You may discuss this issue on a personal level — ie leave the CVA out of it — if you please."

Blais, who will be in Ottawa next week to meet with government officials, said in an interview he is concerned Dickin's comments are aimed at trying to discredit him and the CVA.

He said he has written a "friendly" letter to Dickin to point out what he wrote is not true. "You have to consider his motives," said Blais, noting Dickin's Conservative Party connection. "I'd like an apology from him but I doubt I'll get one."

But Dickin said he did not single out Blais and is not out to smear him. "At no time did I state that Mr. Blais was 'extreme,' but rather that the group's direction, for which Mr. Blais is at least partly responsible as the founder and President, had turned to extreme means of making their views known," Dickin wrote in an email to the Citizen.

Dickin stated that by listing the disruptive activities others were talking about, "Mr. Blais made it seem that these criminal activities were endorsed, credible forms of protest."

He said dozens of veterans agree with his view of CVA. "Unfortunately, they have recently turned to opposing everything the federal government does and using social media to organize negative, sometimes libellous, comments against Conservative MPs, ministers, and Senators," Dickin noted. "Unfortunately, rather than supporting their fellow veterans (including me), they've chosen to attack anyone who notices this trend."

Dickin said he is a full-time member of the Canadian Forces.

He stated in his email that as a result of his posting about CVA, he has been "viciously attacked through social media and anonymous emails."

Veterans advocate David MacLeod issued a statement Monday, noting Dickin's claims about Blais were malicious as well as inaccurate. He pointed out that in the original posting, Blais specifically stated he did not condone protest, was not taking part in any disruptive activities and wanted the CVA left out of any such debate.

"Mr. Dickin you and the Conservative Party of Canada, owe Mike Blais, at the very least, a very public apology," wrote MacLeod.

In early 2012, MacLeod and fellow veteran Jim Lowther received an apology from Conservative MP Rob Anders. Anders described both men, who volunteer their time helping homeless veterans, as "NDP hacks" and supporters of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

But the two were both card-carrying Conservatives. Lowther served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. MacLeod served in Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

Ottawa veterans advocate Sean Bruyea noted that Blais's group has recently been using the Access to Information law to obtain internal government records showing veterans are not being properly cared for. "It appears the Conservatives are up to their old tactics," said Bruyea, who himself faced a campaign orchestrated by Veterans Affairs staff after speaking out. "Mike Blais has always been completely lawful. He has never threatened anyone."

Bruyea also received an apology from the Conservative government and a financial settlement after sensitive personal and medical information was illegally shared by Veterans Affairs officials.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Friday, October 25, 2013

New announcement: CVA Situation Report – Operation Sacred Obligation Oct 21-Nov 10th 2013

CVA Situation Report – Operation Sacred Obligation Oct 21-Nov 10th 2013

Operation Sacred Obligation will commence on Oct 21 and extend until Nov 10th. At this time, the only day of the year, the CVA stands down from proactive operations to focus our collective respect upon the extraordinary sacrifice of our brothers and sisters in arms.

Be advised that Operation Sacred Obligation -OSO- is a multi-phased, multi-faceted campaign. OSO will conclude when the Harper Government embraces, not abandons, it Sacred Obligation to those who have suffered the consequences of War and Peace on Canada's behalf. To attain this objective, Phase-I will focus on pro actively promoting awareness of of the wounded plight to the Canadian Public and with their support, attain the support of all MPs-Senators.

Phase-I will be followed up by a robust campaign in the new year inclusive of a formal demonstration of support for the Sacred Obligation in front of the Supreme Court of Canada when the Equitas appeal is heard.

Operation Sacred Obligation – Phase I

Thank You for Your Service. Expressing our gratitude in a definitive manner to those serving, veterans and the nation's Memorial Cross recipients is a major component of this years Remembrance period campaign. I would encourage every CVA supporter to embrace this concept and go out of your way to speak to, shake their hands and thank them for their service.

|It is important that you say this.

Thank You for your Service!

It may seem trivial but I have seen the impact such words have borne upon our traditional WW2 and Korean veterans during memorials and imparting a deeper personal satisfaction, the expressions of serving members I have met in my travels. Embrace the spirit, step up and show your respect, shake the hand, look him or her right in the eye and say, Thank You For Your Service.

Black Ribbon Campaign. The objective is to demonstrate, as veterans and serving members, our profound respect for those who have been summoned to Niner Higher. Be advised that we are not in competition with the Legion poppy nor are we soliciting donations for the ribbons.
I would request that you do not use your poppy as the pin for the Black Ribbon. The object is to respectfully draw attention to the memory of the friends we have served with and the profound sadness we experience when we assemble to honour their sacrifice on November 11th.

The choice of pin you wear is yours but I would recommend that you choose one associated with the Regiment/unit of those you mourn. I will be using the RCR cypher this year, I will mourn the death of my friends Bobby Girouard, Afghanistan, Victor Wedel, Cold War… Sadly, our lists grow longer… but we will remember them.

The Black Ribbon will be worn on the left lapel beside the poppy if you are wearing it as a general sign of respect. The Black Ribbon will be worn over your medals/heart if you, as have I, personally shared in the tragic loss of a brother or sister in arms. Ribbons are available at any dollar store, just cut the ends diagonally, cross and pin. Make a bunch, get some of those free Canada pins from your MP and pass them out.


MPS - Individual Ops. OSO Phase I awareness campaign will focus primarily on Conservative MPs to accept and fulfill their Scared Obligation and convince Prime Minister Harper to accept, not deny, the Sacred Obligation successive parliaments since World War 1 so will fully embraced.

Lest we forget. 150 of Canada's sons and daughters have died under Mr Harper's watch since 2006.

Lest we forget. Over fifteen hundred casualties oft times catastrophic in nature, have occurred on Mr Harper's watch.

Lest we forget… that every War Time Prime Minister of Canada has, until now, willingly embraced the Sacred Obligation.

War Time Prime Minister Steven Harper does not believe his government has a Sacred Obligation to those who suffered the Consequences of War in Afghanistan under his watch. Furthermore, Mr Harper is defending in indefensible at the Supreme Court of Canada in order to deny the wounded of Afghanistan the same level of respect as accorded to those who defined this nation in war and peace.

We must restore the Sacred Obligation and our duty, as veterans and Canadians who are loyal to the spirit of this nation, is clear. We must convince all parliamentarians, particularly those with in the conservative party, to accept their personal Sacred Obligation and unite with Canada's wounded in spirit. Then, guided by this spirit, we must collectively convince Prime Minister Steven Harper to accept, not abandon, his Sacred Obligation to those that he has governed over during the most intensive period of combat this nation experienced since the Korea War.

MP-Senators – Group engagement. The CVA is encouraging veterans within their respective communities to join together for a couple of hours and visit your MP to discuss the Sacred Obligation. It is important that we seek and attain the support of all MPs, regardless of party, as we engage and adapt to the situation. God willing, we shall attain Mr Harper's support before the next election, if not, we must have the mechanisms in place to ensure our voices are and have been heard, that a new or minority based parliament is committed to our cause.

This journey we have embarked upon will not be over tomorrow. Nor will the pain of Canada's most seriously wounded cease by Remembrance Day.
But what you do today, tomorrow and every day until this government accepts its Sacred Obligation will certainly shorten the length of the despair for those who have been abandoned.

Operation Sacred Obligation – Phase I Recap.
1-Thank you for your service.
2- Black Ribbon Campaign.
2-Individual engagement - Contact your MP, speak to the Sacred Obligation we, as a nation proud and free, have to those who have provided our freedom.
3-Group engagement. Organize a small group of veterans/families and meet with your MP.

Operation Sacred Operation-Advocacy Ops. National Level.

The CVA team will be on the ground in Ottawa November 3 and health permitting, will be actively engaged through out the week in advocacy operations and national commemoration-memorial events. Our itinerary TBA, but at this moment we have confirmed meetings with Minister Fantino, Peter Stoffer and Jim Karygianiss. We also will be meeting Veterans Parliamentary for Veterans Affairs Parm Gill and members of the conservative committee.

We are requesting meetings with the leaders of all opposition parties to encourage them to engage the government in the House of Commons on every opportunity to accept their Sacred Obligation.

As per our self imposed SOPs, we will also be attending Question Period each day, rotating in the gallery as a guest of each party. We also attend VAC and DND committee meetings to speak with the MPs and observe their efforts on behalf of serving members and veterans.

CVA Operations Ottawa - The CVA will be organizing two events over the Remembrance Week in the nation's capital . On Nov 6th, we will be hosting an Equitas Awareness program at the Polish Combatants Hall from 1900 until 2100. Our objective is to provide an informative evening wherein the foundations of the Equitas Society's quest can be clearly defined and an opportunity for the government, should they respond, to speak in general terms as to the relevance of their positions. All parties will be provided a brief time to define their respective party's position on the Equitas lawsuit and the Sacred Obligation.

An open format will follow wherein veterans, representatives of the media and parliamentarians will be invited to ask questions and engage in open dialogue about the Sacred Obligation and how parliamentarians would respond to the needs identified by the OVO's report during the NVC parliamentary committee.

On Sunday, the 10th, the CVA and Eastview Legion we are extending an invitation to all veterans attending the Remembrance Day ceremonies on Monday to join with us in comradeship at the legion at 1400 hours.
There will be entertainment, food, refreshments of course and most importantly, a time to relax and have some fun with brothers and sisters in arms. We start at 1400, stay as long as you like, just take a taxi back to the motel if you get toasted. Parking is free.

Remembrance Day Protest. The CVA policy is RESOLUTE!!!!! We do not engage in protest in any form on Remembrance Day. Nor do we advocate in a respectful manner until after the memorial ceremony has been conducted, wherein I do expect every loyal Canadian to speak to the plight of Canada's most seriously wounded veterans to anybody who is willing to listen. I understand that the situation this year is particularly elevated, I have been contacted by many encouraging me/us to engage Mr Harper and conservative MPs by turning our backs on the PM during the national ceremony amongst other…

Should you feel like participating in these endeavours, that is your personal perogative. I ask only that you respect the fallen and the families who will be present to publicly mourn their loss.

Pro Patria Semper Fidelis
Michael L Blais CD
President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
904 359 9247

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Canadians support vets, government does not

Canadians support vets, government does not

Sharon Desousa, The Windsor Star | Oct 25, 2013 | Last Updated: Oct 25, 2013 - 9:03 UTC

In a press release dated Sept. 26, 2013, by Julian Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, he states that "Our Government remains fully committed to providing veterans with the support they need to lead successful lives beyond their service to Canada in uniform." (

These words, however, are not reflected in the government's decision to close down nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada in February of next year. Two of those offices are located here in Ontario, one in Windsor and the other in Thunder Bay.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada represents workers at Veterans Affairs, who provide much-needed support to veterans. Yet, with the closure of these offices, veterans in the Windsor area will have to travel two hours away to the next closest office located in London, Ont.

Veterans in the Thunder Bay area will have to go even farther, nearly 10 hours away.

Our members who offer support in case management, family support, career transition services, rehabilitation and assistance in attaining disability and health benefits are heartbroken knowing that these veterans are being abandoned.

Through the government's 2012 budget, Veterans Affairs was forced to cut 784 jobs and its budget was slashed by 20 per cent. These drastic cuts are counter to the government's claims that veterans are receiving the support they deserve.

For many veterans who suffer from mental health issues or have disabilities, they require front-line services and case managers to assist them. A phone number or web page is not adequate in addressing their needs.

Furthermore, PSAC represents Service Canada workers who have stated time and time again that they do not have the necessary training or information to help veterans. Yet, the government continues to state that Service Canada is an adequate solution.

Veterans Affairs case managers used to be able to regularly visit veterans at their homes to better assess their health and well-being. This practice is no longer common place and veterans who cannot leave their homes or are too proud to disclose their true living situation can easily be left without the care they deserve.

On behalf of veterans living in the Windsor and Thunder Bay areas, I ask that the government reverses its decision to close these offices. Canadians support their veterans and the government should not be looking for cutbacks at the expense of our heroes.

Sharon Desousa

PSAC regional executive vice-president - Ontario, Toronto

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Canadian Veterans Advocacy: Subject

Closing Veterans Affairs offices unconscionable

Published on October 20, 2013

Of freedom, a Norwegian resistance fighter in occupied Norway in the 1940s wrote this: "In us is born the conviction/That freedom is life's first law."

In Canada, the legacy of freedom, built up by our military, guarantees that governments can make decisions for right or wrong reasons.

When the Harper government decided to close nine Veterans Affairs Canada offices by February 2014 at a measly saving of $6 million, it made the wrong decision. To include the very busy Sydney office was unconscionable. At the same time, in a bid to convince Americans of the benefits of the Keystone pipeline transporting Alberta oil to the States, the Conservatives propose to spend $24 million on advertising.

This paper has in the past year published letters and articles on the closing of the Sydney office and the offices in Charlottetown and Corner Brook. It's now estimated that as a result of the closure of the office here, the Halifax office, with a staff of 68, will pick up an additional 4,200 clients from Cape Breton, giving it approximately 22,000 clients in Nova Scotia and making it the third largest office in Canada. These statistics demonstrate that a disproportionate number of service personnel from the Maritimes have served our country with distinction but now need assistance of one kind or another. But will they be looked after?

Where are the protests about the closing of the Sydney office from the Tory elite in Cape Breton? Where are their letters, their articles? Did anyone hear them speak out? I heard only one prominent Tory say on radio that online services and a call centre provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs would take up the slack. The numbers, ages and competency of our most distinguished veterans suggest otherwise.

On Aug. 3, 2013, Stephen McNenly wrote an article in this paper emphasizing the human dimension of the government's decision, the effect of the changes on his uncle, a veteran, and the loss here of 13 permanent and four casual jobs. One casualty is his sister, Jennifer, a 17-year case worker. Ms. McNenly advocated for and provided excellent service to my 93-year-old brother. His macular degeneration precludes his using a computer. I doubt whether he would pick up a phone to talk to Halifax or travel there. Would case worker travel from Halifax to his home in Donkin be cheap? When would they get around to the visit? How can one stomach the government's disrespect of our veterans?

Here's the rub: It is political suicide for the Tory government to balance the budget on the back of our veterans just as it was a mistake to close our EI centre in Glace Bay. Yes, cut costs, but base them on sound evidence. At a provincial legion convention in this province in May, the deputy minister of the Department of Veterans Affairs offered no sympathy at all to delegates. In fact he questioned, in an arrogant way, the numbers of needy clients.

And we thought that the Conservative government and its underlings favoured our military. Apparently, that doesn't extend to our veterans. On Saturday, Nov. 9, in Sydney at 10 a.m., you can let them know how you feel. The Maritime mayors have already done so.

LeRoy Peach lives in Port Morien and may be reached at His column appears every two weeks in the Cape Breton Post.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New announcement: Veteran To Stephen Harper: Dump Fantino…And Don’t Come To Remembrance Day

Veteran To Stephen Harper: Dump Fantino…And Don't Come To Remembrance Day

October 17, 2013. 1:36 pm • Section: Defence Watch

This came in from David MacLeod:

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

According to Veteran Affairs Canada, Nov 11 is a date that serves as: "remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace." As a Veteran of peacekeeping, peacemaking, and war I am disinviting you Mr. Prime Minister, and your caucus, from Remembrance Day ceremonies across Canada. Your continued hostility towards Canada's Veterans makes you an unwelcome guest.

Mr. Harper you have led a cruel and deliberate campaign of harm against disabled veterans. Afghan War Veterans that fall under the New Veterans Charter are suing the government in an attempt to regain fair compensation and care. But your office prefers to waste tax dollars conducting legal delay tactics instead of respecting court decisions. These same tactics were used for seven years against Dennis Manuge while he combatted the unjust SISIP clawback. In the mean time, disabled Veterans are going bankrupt or will die in poverty. Continued delays damage both the Veteran and their young families

I encourage you to allow Veterans to exercise the rights we have defended for other Canadians.

Minister Julian Fantino, a combative ex-police officer who sees himself above Veterans, leads your information effort. The minister is working hard to address the "tangle of misinformation regarding how Canada treats" its Veterans. By the way, that very minister utters much of the tangled misinformation and continues to mislead Canadians.

Please replace Minister Fantino.

Your government argues that parliament, not the courts, is the appropriate place to address the situation. Yet, you have had a majority government for years and have done nothing but add a veneer of change. Furthermore, you feel that this government should not be bound by promises of previous governments because: "their argument could have a far broader impact than perhaps intended by the plaintiffs". Canada was built on promises; therefore, your argument makes Canada a lie. Tell me Mr. Prime Minster, if the government is not bound by previous promises then why should any soldier fight to defend a lie?

Through veiled words and actions you indicate that the economy is more important than the people who protect it. You knew we were getting into a hard fight in Afghanistan. I am sure the insurance-minded VAC and SISIP made it clear that disabled and wounded would be expensive. Bluntly sir, paying down the deficit on the backs of the disabled is repugnant.

If you cannot afford the Veterans you cannot afford the war.

Mr. Harper this letter is not a political attack. I am conservative by nature and, until recently, Conservative by ballot. Besides, you have bigger troubles than being disinvited to Remembrance Day; you have lost my confidence and vote.

Please demonstrate appropriate behaviour by taking a minute of silence at 11am on Nov 11 – in your office.



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Council urges CBRM residents to march for veterans

Council urges CBRM residents to march for veterans

Published on October 15, 2013

SYDNEY — Using its new video technology to get the message out to residents, Cape Breton regional councillors urged people of all ages to attend a march of concern for veterans who fear the closure of the local Veterans Affairs office will mean they won't receive the supports afforded to them.

Veterans have been told they will be able to access services through the Halifax Department of Veterans Affairs office, a toll-free telephone number, or via the Internet through the Veterans Affairs website, or by using an app designed for smartphones and tablets.

"Yes, I can turn my computer on and check my email and send email, but don't ask me to go on Facebook," said Ron Clarke, 73, a veteran from North Sydney who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said for most veterans don't have the skills or interest in using modern communication tools such as social media applications or an app on a smartphone to access vital services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A telephone line and an office that's a five-hour drive away isn't comparable to the convenient face-to-face service veterans can get now at the local office on George Street in Sydney, he said.

The CBRM council agreed.

It unanimously approved a resolution strongly condemning the federal government's decision to close the Sydney office. The resolution also called for residents to sign a petition at the civic centre opposing the February closure of the office.

The 10:30 a.m. march on Nov. 9 will take protesting veterans, politicians and the general public from Royal Canadian Legion branch 12 at the corner of George and Dorchester streets to the DVA office a short distance away.

"I would implore anyone that's listening to take one hour — it's a two-hour protest if you want to call it that — take one hour of your life. It's a very small amount of time a person can give to show the veterans that you care about them and you want this to be stopped," Dist. 5 Coun. Eldon MacDonald said.

Dist. 3 Coun. Mae Rowe said it's about showing respect to people who defended the country in past wars and conflicts.

"Now is our time to fight for them," she said of the veterans.

"They put their lives on the line for us for the freedom that we enjoy today, so that's the least that we can do.

"There's no excuse for not being there in my eyes. There's absolutely no excuse for not being at that event on Nov. 9."

She said it would also be heartening to see schoolchildren of all ages and various unions participate in the march as well.

At deputy mayor Kevin Saccary's suggestion, the resolution approved by CBRM council will be brought forward at the Atlantic Mayors' Congress meeting, which begins today in Membertou, and will also be forwarded to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the national body that lobbies Ottawa on issues affecting municipal units across the country.

Beside the Sydney office closure that will affect 13 employees, the other district offices slated to close include Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Corner Brook, N.L.; Thunder Bay and Windsor offices in Ontario; Brandon, Man.; Saskatoon, Sask.; and Prince George and Kelowna offices in British Columbia.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New announcement: RAW: Canadian veterans and PTSD (Dr Passey)

RAW: Canadian veterans and PTSD

Dr. Passey says more needs to be done to track vets with PTSD

CBC News Vancouver at 6 | Oct 16, 2013 | 3:39

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QPQ Mulcair on the closure of Veterans Affairs offices

QPQ Mulcair on the closure of Veterans Affairs offices

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: PRESS RELEASE: Canadian Veterans Adovocacy - Throne Speech, 2013

OTTAWA. Today saw yet another Conservative Government Throne Speech filled with headlines without substance for Canadian most seriously wounded veterans. The theme "Security and Prosperity in an Uncertain World" is particularly poignant as the nation prepares for Remembrance Week and on November 11th, to honour the sacrifice of the fallen.

Lest we Forget as Remembrance Day approaches, that 150 Canadians died in Afghanistan under the Harper Government's stewardship of the War in Afghanistan.

Lest we forget that over fifteen hundred valiant Canadians have returned to our communities bereft of limbs, catastrophically wounded of mind and soul as this nation once more was blooded providing security in an Uncertain World.

Lest we forget the Sacred Obligation this nation has to those who stood, and stand on guard for thee.

"Canada's most seriously wounded veterans, definitively identified by Veterans Ombudsman Parent as the primary victims of the New Veterans Charter, can only be dismayed at the Throne Speech's lack of focus on the Veterans portfolio," said Michael L Blais CD, President and founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy. "Once again, veterans who have sacrificed the greatest will be abandoned. Once again, the nation's most seriously wounded warriors will be forsaken simply because the Harper Government has refused to embrace it's Sacred Obligation."

Where is the increased support for Canada's most seriously wounded identified by Veterans Ombudsman Parent's report under the enhanced Charter?

How can this government claim they have provided dignified burials for impoverished veterans when they, during the last legislative review, retained the same restrictive financial criteria resulting in a 67 percent denial rate of applicants? How many have been denied since?

Red tape? Closing of nine VAC district offices across the land, mass layoffs of dedicated civil servants who spent their careers catering to the special needs of war and peace shattered veterans, contracting out services to Service Canada, already ravaged by budget related cutbacks and incapable of responding to the need? Asking WW2 and Korean veterans to go to the website is not the answer, asking PTSD afflicted veterans to use a phone app is not the answer. Comprehensive service is.

The traditions of this nation are to be cherished and the inclusion of all veterans, who served in all eras, on the National War Memorial is an admirable move forward. Yet we must be mindful at all times of the sacrifice that the National War Memorial represents, that there must be equality for all veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, the families and disabled veterans, an equality that does not exist as a direct consequence of the New Veterans Charter and the governments refusal to resolve the substantive issues.

One Veteran, One Standard

For additional information, contact...

Michael L Blais CD

Founder/President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ont, Cda.
L2E 7K6 // 905-357-3306 // Cell 905-359-9247

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New announcement: Veterans groups dismiss war memorial rededication as ‘fluff’

Veterans groups dismiss war memorial rededication as 'fluff'

By Robert Sibley, OTTAWA CITIZEN October 16, 2013 11:56 PM

"Fluff." That, in a word, pretty much sums up the response of veterans' groups to the Conservatives' throne speech announcement that the government intends to rededicate the National War Memorial to honour those who've fallen in the service of the country.

"It's important that veterans be recognized, yes, but the Conservatives are just wrapping themselves in the flag," said Michael Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy. "It's headlines without substance, to make themselves look good."

On Wednesday, toward the end of his hour-long throne speech, Gov. Gen. David Johnston announced that as part of events next year commemorating the centennial of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, the government was "rededicating the National War Memorial to the memory of all men and women who fought for our country."

The government also intends to mark the end of Canada's decade-long mission in Afghanistan by honouring those in uniform who "made the ultimate sacrifice combating the spread of terrorism," as well as promote "the proud history of our Canadian Armed Forces by restoring military traditions."

Gordon Jenkins, president of the NATO Veterans Organization of Canada, said it's fine to honour the dead of past wars, but it's the still-living veterans who need the government's attention. "What are they doing for the living? We're not getting anything for veterans (in the throne speech) except lip service."

He and Blais observed that the government boasts of its dedication to Canadian military history and its willingness to spend hundreds of thousands to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. But, they said, such actions haven't translated into serving veterans well.

"They're going to spend millions on remembering (the First World War)," said Jenkins. "These are the dead, and let's give them respect, but is this what Veterans Affairs is now? The war memorial doesn't need rededicating. We need something substantive."

Such criticism echoes a recent report from Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, who chastised the Tory government for shortfalls in the level of financial support given to veterans, particularly those severely wounded or disabled. "It is simply not acceptable to let veterans who have sacrificed the most for their country ... live their lives with unmet financial needs," the ombudsman said in a study that compared the old system of compensating veterans under the Pension Act with the inadequacies of the new Veterans Charter, legislation backed by the Conservative government when enacted in 2006.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino defended the department's record.

"Our Government has made enormous and substantial investments to support Canada's Veterans, including nearly five billion in additional funds towards assistance and services for Veterans and their families," said Joshua Zanin in an email. "As committed in the Speech From the Throne, we will continue to act further to support vulnerable and homeless Veterans and to ensure the successful transition of Veterans into civilian life after their service in uniform."

Veterans were upset earlier this summer after federal lawyers urged a B.C. judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by injured Afghan veterans, claiming the government has no extraordinary social obligation toward veterans, and owes them nothing more than what they received under the Veterans Charter.

Add this attitude to defence funding issues — including, for example, delays in a $10-million program to replace the aging Lee Enfield rifles used by the Arctic Rangers — and critics like Jenkins and Blais say it's hard to take seriously the government's claim of commitment to the military and its veterans.

"Commemoration is fine," said Blais. "We have an obligation to the fallen. But we also have an obligation to those who are suffering today.

"We've got a government that likes to fly the flag, but look what they are actually doing. It's all fluff. It's not in response to the real needs of veterans."">
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New announcement: Can We Trust a Veterans Affairs Minister That Doesn't Even Know Who a Veteran Is

Can We Trust a Veterans Affairs Minister That Doesn't Even Know Who a Veteran Is?

Posted: 10/16/2013 2:43 pm

Newly-minted Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino hasn't exactly been winning friends recently. Nor his influence on veterans been inspirational, except in the way that an emetic inspires. It appears the Honourable Minister is in over his head with his portfolio... or perhaps gagging on it... as mere months after his appointment -- and before he has even taken his seat -- veterans are demanding his resignation. Fantino has been handling the issues at Veterans Affairs with all the grace of a newborn moose on ice skates.

First up: the Government's appeal of the Lump-Sum Lawsuit.

This is hardly Fantino's fault -- the case, legal arguments, and probably the decisions to appeal, preceded his appointment. But he's the guy charged with defending to Canadians the decision to waste even more of our money fighting our veterans in court. Trying to explain away the inexplicable position of his government, Fantino maintains the party line that veterans' issues should be settled in the Commons while simultaneously arguing that the Harper Government isn't bound be decisions of previous ones. The Legion calls the government's position 'reprehensible', taxpayers are backing the veterans, and Fantino is now the focus of the anger.

Next issue: the closures of VAC offices.

This also predates Fantino's appointment. The Harper Government has decided to trim its spending by closing Veterans Affairs offices in such remote locations as Corner Brook (NL), Charlottetown, Sydney (NS), Saskatoon and Windsor, Ontario. This decision has veterans and civil servants united to save their local office, where a veteran can go and receive help in person. Instead, the federal government -- in the person of Julian Fantino -- is promoting the new Veterans Affairs smart-phone app.

The impact on veterans is easily predictable.

But what really has veterans riled are Fantino's comments on Vancouver's CKNW radio earlier this month.

In an interview with Bill Good, the Honourable Minister demonstrated some fundamental ignorance of his stakeholders:

"I spent 40 years in law enforcement. I too have served. I've been at the trenches and heard the guns go off. I guess I can also put myself and other colleagues, firefighters, and police officers who put themselves in harms way every day in the same category."

If you'd been listening attentively, you might have heard the vast cry of obscenities as people nationwide discovered that the Minister Responsible doesn't understand what makes a veteran a veteran.

That is not to take away from the dedication and sacrifices of civilian police, firefighters, or other first responders. All Canadians, including veterans, recognize the amazing - sometimes heroic - contributions made by these fine individuals as they protect and save people and communities. They do fantastic work and should be commended for it. But that's not the point. The point is that they are not veterans.

Minister Fantino obviously was a dedicated career police officer. I'm sure he did witness some horrible things. And if he says he heard gunfire, who am I to say otherwise? (Although I suspect he was being metaphorical in at least one claim. The last time I checked, police didn't engage in trench warfare, not even with very bad gang situations.) But the fact is, the Honourable Minister is not a veteran, does not qualify as a veteran, and, no matter how big his sacrifices, could never be considered a veteran, because of one simple fact:

Julian Fantino did not agree to be ordered to die.

It is that fact which separates civilian services from military and paramilitary organizations like the Canadian Forces and RCMP. It is known as 'unlimited liability' and means that, as a serving member, you agree to follow orders even if that order is to die. As in: Go throw yourself on that grenade! Refusal to do so can, and likely will, result in jail time. Civilian services are not under such constraints. That is what makes them not-veterans.

Which isn't to say that a first-responder wouldn't make such a sacrifice. We see them do risky, death-defying things all the time, sometimes even sacrificing their lives for others. But the point is that they are not required by law to do so. They might be asked to, they might volunteer to, they might feel compelled by circumstance, but they are not under threat of prison for refusing. The Forces and RCMP are.

That is what makes them veterans, and Minister Fantino, not...

Unless they are planning on seriously revising VAC to include anyone who sacrifices and endures hardship for the public good. If that is the new definition, then VAC better hire more staff, because there's a whole lot of civilians who are injured and killed while executing their jobs. Not just first responders: doctors and nurses attacked by patients or contracting illnesses they are treating; game wardens accidentally shot during hunting season; snow removal drivers killed in accidents... how many does Fantino intend to include in this new definition?

Obviously, the Minister didn't intend that every person who dies or is injured in service to the public is a veteran. But what he did was imply that injury or death is required for one to be considered a veteran. That may be a convenient definition for a government intent on saving money on the back of our veterans, but it's a silly notion for nation that requires a military. By the Fantino definition, someone might serve 20 years in the Forces, receive many medals, but, because they escaped injury, they are not a veteran. He can't have meant that, can he?

Who knows what he meant. In a few sentences, the Minister muddied the waters so much that only one thing was clear: Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, doesn't know who a veteran is.

Which prompted Canada's veterans to call for his resignation.

In case you are still confused (many are, now), here is how you become a veteran: You enlist in the Forces or RCMP; sometimes other groups like the Merchant Marines, or perhaps more in the future. Upon enlisting, you take an oath of service. That oath means you agree to go where you are sent and do as you are told, even if that means dying. Failure to comply means dismissal, disgrace, and probably prison -- not too long ago, it could mean execution. Your sacrifice begins immediately: you give up your free will to your country.

You are now a veteran: if you get run over on your way home from taking the oath and are incapacitated for life, your benefits will come from Veterans Affairs. Even if you did not get the opportunity to do anything, you still made the commitment. They also Serve who only stand and wait, Minister Fantino. A veteran is one who took an oath to die if ordered or be severely punished for refusing.

There's another way of putting this. This definition is used by many veterans:

A veteran - whether regular or reserve, active or retired - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank cheque made payable to "the Government of Canada," for an amount of "Up to and including his life."

In fact, that definition is even used by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman:

We ask of everyone who puts on the uniform in defence of our country to be ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice. In recognition of that bond, they write a blank cheque to the people of Canada up to and including their lives.

But perhaps the Minister wishes to change that perception. After all, it's cheaper to focus only on the injuries -- which the veterans themselves must prove -- than to honour the sacred covenant. We citizens of Canada agreed to look after those who served us. They sign that blank cheque to us; we agree to provide for them, with the same conditions. This is something else Julian Fantino doesn't understand. In the same interview, he stated, "I don't have a blank cheque, and neither do Canadians, to do everything that people want."

Sorry Minister, it doesn't work that way. Unlimited liability means unlimited responsibility. If Canada can't provide for its veterans, then we are not entitled to create any. In which case, your Government shouldn't be boarding up Veterans Affairs offices -- it should shut down recruiting stations.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New announcement: New Veterans Affairs minister: same old crisis of insensitivity

New Veterans Affairs minister: same old crisis of insensitivity

New Veterans Affairs minister: same old crisis of insensitivity

By SEAN BRUYEA | Published: Monday, 10/14/2013 12:00 am EDT

OTTAWA—Veterans aren't happy and recently-appointed Veterans Affair Minister Julian Fantino is only fanning the fire with the usual parroting of bureaucratic misinformation. How do veterans and other Canadians hold a minister and his bureaucracy accountable for spreading half-truths and misleading claims?
The first step to accountability is to uncover the truth.

The situation in the veteran community is so dire that Fantino wrote an op-ed for theNational Post and also sent it out on the internet addressed to "Dear Veteran." His open letter claims there is a "tangle of misinformation regarding how Canada treats" its veterans. His first assertion is that "a majority of Canada's veterans receive the support and care they need."

The truth is Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) provides programs to a mere 17 per cent of Canada's serving and retired military members. It would be impossible for Fantino to know whether the remaining 83 per cent of veterans are indeed having their needs met since no effort is made by his department to track the "needs" of this population.

The primary focus of the minister's op-ed is the legislation for Canadian Forces members and veterans known as the "New Veterans Charter." He rightly points out that Parliament was unanimous in endorsing "wholesale change to veterans' support and services" for post-World War II Canadian Forces veterans. What he leaves out is that Parliament never scrutinized the legislation in a House committee and not a single word of debate was permitted amongst MPs.

Bureaucracy and successive ministers promised Canadians that the legislation was open to regular changes, claiming the new program was a "living Charter."
Since that time, Fantino's government has wrongly taken credit for the $4.7-billion, which has been cumulatively added to the department's budget since 2006. What the minister does not explain is that almost 50 per cent of those funds were cost of living increases hard-wired into Parliamentary law. A substantial part of the remaining $4.7-billion was allocated as early as 2005 as part of the legislation which replaced lifetime disability pensions for lifelong injuries with one-time lump sums. The bureaucrats anticipated the increased upfront cost of the lump sum program would eventually save the department money in what one callous bureaucrat of the time proclaimed would be a "wellness dividend."

In a not so veiled attack on the lifelong pension, the minister claims that the lump sum program does not "simply throw money at a problem or a person." This is a rather rich claim since the lump sum is seen by rehabilitation and medical as well as veteran policy experts as doing exactly that: throwing money in the short term at a veteran and leaving most recipients without anything to show for their lifelong injuries in the years that follow.

The minister is quick to laud the recent veterans ombudsman report which notes that unfair comparisons are made between the lump sum and lifelong disability pensions without considering the "overall suite of monetary and non-monetary benefits provided under the New Veterans Charter." The minister claims this "cherry picking" is not objective. What the minister omits and the veterans ombudsman overlooked is that a recent uncontested Federal Court ruling concludes that compensation for pain and suffering must be considered completely separate from other economic financial benefits.

Because of this ruling it is both legal and correct to compare these two programs directly. Even the ombudsman notes that "there are undeniable differences between the value" of the two programs. Even with all programs taken into account, the Veterans Ombudsman concludes that the "overall value"
of the New Veterans Charter programs is below the benefits paid under the lifelong disability program.

The minister asserts that his department implemented "over 160 recommendations that were determined after wide consultation." However, repeated efforts over the past two years by organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion and other veterans' groups to obtain a detailed accounting of the ethereal changes resulting from the implemented recommendations have yet to materialize from Fantino's department.

In his final words, the minister concludes that an upcoming review of the New Veterans Charter in Parliament will work towards "appropriate change" to address the "needs" of veterans and their families. However, the previous review proposed 16 areas of change, each necessitating a handful of specific remedies. The result was that the bureaucracy ignored all but four specific remedies.

As for attempts to placate the overwhelming cries to reinstate the lifelong pension: the department implemented a choice to receive the lump sum all at once or the same lump sum paid over any chosen period. It is not surprising that less than five per cent of recipients of the lump sum chose to take it over
time and none were given the choice between a lifelong pension and a one-time lump sum payment.

The minister's cherry picking of facts has served to only further inflame a veteran and family population far too bruised by bureaucratic insensitivity and empty political rhetoric. It is the veterans and their families who must define what is "appropriate change" and what they "need." It is nothing less than
condescending paternalism for a department, 99 per cent of which has never served in the military, to tell a veteran what he or she "needs."

The Department's Values and Ethics states that "we are accountable and responsible for our actions and accept the consequences for our decisions." Are these words just another half-truth?

Sean Bruyea is vice-president of Canadians for Accountability and he is also a veteran.

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New announcement: Corporal leaving military after PTSD walk disagreement

Corporal leaving military after PTSD walk disagreement

CTV Montreal
Published Sunday, October 13, 2013 6:52PM EDT

CHECK the Video:

A Canadian soldier is leaving the military after being denied time off work to raise money for a military charity.

Cpl. Kate MacEachern raised $20,000 for the charity Soldier On last year by walking more than 500 kilometres in her Long Way Home trek, but when she asked for time off to walk even farther this year, her bosses said no.

The walk aims to raise money to help vets, particularly those stricken with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"When I asked permission this year, I had a feeling that I wasn't actually going to get it. I already knew that if it came back as a no, I was ending my career," said MacEachern, who was passing through Montreal Sunday.

Last year, MacEachern walked from CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, where she is posted, to her hometown of Antigonish, N.S. She received accolades from her superiors and even Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

"I have not ever felt so strongly or been so devoted to something in my entire life," an emotional MacEachern said.

According to CFB Gagetown internal memos, MacEachern's superiors said there would be no one to replace her during the 45 days she requested off to complete this year's 1,600 kilometre walk from Gagetown to Ottawa. This time, the walk will benefit Military Minds, an organization that helps soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Officially, MacEachern is only allotted 25 vacation days annually.

MacKay says he only learned about MacEachern's situation Friday and has asked for more details.

NDP defence critic Jack Harris says the time to act is now and that a compromise should be reached for a woman who has received "very shabby treatment."

MacEachern, a single mother of a nine-year-old boy, will start marching from CFB Gagetown on Sept. 3.

"At the end of the day you need to stand up for what you believe in no matter what the cost," MacEachern said.

MacEachern has been in the military for seven years, and will be ending her career next month.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

New announcement: War veteran died before getting the medal he desperately coveted

War veteran died before getting the medal he desperately coveted

ByMark McNeil

When his country called in the Second World War, Ed Wood answered in spades.

He flew 16 harrowing missions in big Lancasters as part of Bomber Command before being shot down over Stuttgart, Germany in July 1944 and parachuting to safety from 20,000 feet.

But 70 years later when the veteran called on his country, no one responded.

And Wednesday, Wood died at St. Peter's Hospital without the special service medal bar he so desperately wanted to recognize the dangerous sacrifice he made as a young man.

"I'm 90 years old and I still didn't get it," were the last words he said, his daughter Deb Wood recalled.

In the summer of 2012, the Conservative federal government announced it was finally going to recognize Canadian airmen who flew with Bomber Command.

A special bar was created to be worn on the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

At the end of the war, special medals were awarded for other campaigns, such as Dieppe and Hong Kong, but not to flyers who flew dangerous Bomber Command missions.

More than 10,000 Canadian airmen were killed while serving in the controversial Bomber Command campaign that is estimated to have killed as many as 600,000 Germans, many of whom were civilians.

The special medal issue was something air force veterans vehemently complained about for decades before the announcement by then Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney last summer that "With the production of this bar, our government is honouring those Canadians who fought for peace, freedom and democracy through their service in Bomber Command operations over Europe."

But the medals — in some cases at least — have been slow to be issued. That's a big concern because veterans of the campaign still living are into their 90s. A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino could not explain the delay and issued the statement:

"Second World War Veteran Ed Wood served his country with honour and distinction, alongside thousands of Canadians in Bomber Command. Nearly 1,000 bars have been issued, and Veterans Affairs will continue to issue them as quickly as possible."

Deb Wood said she applied twice, once before the program formally started. She stepped up her campaign through the summer of 2013, knowing her dad was becoming more frail. She said Veterans Affairs promised it would be delivered in July.

But no medal arrived.

Last week, knowing her father was reaching the end, she contacted NDP Hamilton Mountain MP Chris Charlton to lobby on the family's behalf, but to no avail. Charlton said the department should have "moved heaven and earth" for someone who fought so hard for his country.

Deb Wood said, "When I called I was given different numbers and different people and all would say is that it is in the mail," "I was told the elderly would be the first to get them." Families of veterans are also eligible to apply.

Wood believes the medals were being held back so they could be handed out at high impact ceremonies such as Remembrance Day. She says other Bomber Command vets she knows haven't received their medals either.

But she did see on television a ceremony in Toronto in August where several vets were presented with the bars.

Wood, who worked as an accountant in his civilian life, was very active with the Canadian Warplane Heritage.

Over the last several months, he was obsessed about receiving the medal before he died. She says his doctor told her the faint hope of receiving the medal probably extended his life by several days, maybe weeks.

"I believe that is what he was hanging on for. It's all he kept asking for."

Wood's funeral will be held at Bayview Gardens Funeral Home on Rymal Road on Saturday.

905-526-4687 | @Markatthespec

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New announcement: Minister and Ombudsman on Roy Green Show Saturday October 12 3:00pm

Minister and Ombudsman on Roy Green Show Saturday October 12 3:00pm

Hi All

I was just speaking with Roy Green and he indicated that the Minister and the Ombudsman will be speaking on the Roy Green Show on Saturday October 12 at 3:00pm.

There should be opportunity to rebut what will likely be the usual bureaucratic parroting.... and perhaps a nugget or two of insensitivity such as comparing military service in a combat zone to the work of community policing or firefighting or paramedics.

Catch the program on any of the Corus Network stations such as:

Please distribute widely.

All the best for Thanksgiving everyone.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

New announcement: Psychiatrist testifies he was not allowed to talk to veteran suffering PTSD

Psychiatrist testifies he was not allowed to talk to veteran suffering PTSD


PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, Oct. 09 2013, 9:37 PM EDT

Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 09 2013, 9:42 PM EDT

The psychiatrist and former soldier who was treating Greg Matters for post-traumatic stress disorder asked RCMP if he could speak to the former peacekeeper as he was surrounded by heavily armed police officers at his rural British Columbia farm, a coroner's inquest into his death heard Wednesday.

Dr. Greg Passey said he received a call the evening of Sept. 10, 2012, from an officer who said Matters was inside a cabin and threatening to shoot members of the emergency response team who had formed a perimeter outside.

The officers were there to arrest Matters for assaulting his brother during an altercation about 40 hours prior.

"I said something to the effect that you don't want him backed into a corner where he does not feel he has any options. If you push him into that situation, he will defend himself. I was fairly certain of that," Passey testified.

They discussed potential strategies to defuse the situation unfolding on the property where Matters lived with his mother near Prince George, B.C.

"All the while I was expecting to be able to talk to him."

That didn't happen.

The officer ended the call, suggesting that a surrender had been negotiated. He heard nothing until the next day, when he saw on the news that Matters, 40, a 15-year soldier who had served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, had been fatally shot by RCMP.

"It is my true opinion and conviction that had I been able to speak to Greg that night, I could have talked him out," Passey said.

Several family members fled the inquest room in tears as a forensic pathologist demonstrated where two bullets entered Matters's back, exiting through his chest. A third bullet remained in his body, jurors were told.

Passey, the head of the B.C. Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Vancouver, which treats soldiers and police, past and present, explained how Matters developed PTSD.

He was assaulted twice by members of his unit in 1995, Passey said. Matters filed a complaint but he was the one charged, and he believed that was because another soldier involved in the beating was of a higher rank.

Later, he had several run-ins with RCMP, in New Brunswick where he was based and later in Prince George. On one occasion, officers from the Prince George detachment came into his home at gunpoint, at night, to do a "wellness check."

"He never felt he was being heard. He never felt he was getting justice," Passey said, explaining why police, and a sense of injustice, would trigger Matters's PTSD.

His verbal threats — against an estranged brother, police, the police complaint commissioner, a former therapist — were "primitive and immature" responses, the psychiatrist said.

"You need to realize nowhere in his record has Greg, that I'm aware of, ever instigated any physical attack on anybody," Passey said.

Matters left the military with an honourable discharge in 2009. Unable to work, he was surviving on a $123 a month military pension.

His financial troubles, chronic pain from a back injury suffered in Bosnia, and the conflict with his brother contributed to his illnesses, Passey said.

Andrew Kemp, the lawyer for the B.C. Attorney General and RCMP, asked Passey about his confidence that Matters would not act on his long list of threats.

"You would agree with the proposition though that even though he had not yet, to your knowledge, acted on any of his threats, there's always a first time?" Kemp asked.

"One has to look at past behaviour as a method to predict future behaviour," Passey replied.

"Greg had multiple opportunities to act in an aggressive manner toward individuals, and I had no history that it ever occurred, so it was unlikely he was going to act on those threats because in between, once he settled down, the threats dissipated."

"Unlikely is different than never, though," Kemp said.

Kemp pointed out that Matters's previous therapist, who treated him for two years, took threats against her seriously enough to call police.

Under questioning from jurors, Passey said Matters's PTSD made it very difficult for police to deal with him.

"It made it very difficult for both parties in this," he said.

Asked if he had any recommendations that might prevent similar deaths in the future, Passey said every police officer should be trained to deal with PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.

"This should be taught at Depot and should be something that's taught every time an officer needs to requalify," he said.

"They need to requalify on regular basis with regards to baton use, Tasers, firearms, etcetera. There should be a course specifically to educate officers about this disorder."

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harold Leduc response to Minister's Fantino National Post Article

From: Harold Leduc []
Sent: October-08-13 11:14 AM
To: Minister-Ministre Minister-Ministre; Jacques Fauteux; Prime Minister/Premier Ministre
Subject: Re: Article - National Post

Dear Minister,

Thank you for the interesting email. In future I would appreciate you addressing your comments to me personally if you are going to use my email address. I've copied your Chief of Staff Jacques Fauteux, a Naval veteran to provide veterans another avenue to reach you.

The fact of the matter is that the tangible misinformation is coming from your, the Prime Minister's and the Veterans Ombudsman's office. I know these offices have received numerous complaint by wronged veterans but have done little about them. To set the record straight, Canada treats it's veterans well, it's the Conservative Government that doesn't.

I was at the table when Government robbed disabled veterans of Pension Act life long disability benefits to pay for the programs of the New Veterans Charter (NVC) and heard your Government's promises in opposition to fix the problems...we're still waiting. Your review falls short of the scope and objectivity required.

You're not accurately representing the $4.7 billion figure. Isn't that figure VAC's total operating budget including employee wages?

You know that your Ombudsman misrepresented the purpose of the Pension Act in his recent report to downplay it's significance, just like you are doing. You know that he did not provide Canadians with all the relevant facts by purposefully omitting the most generous option currently available of collecting Pension Act benefits for disability and NVC benefits to have other needs met.

You're not addressing your insensitive comments on the Bill Good show that has angered veterans to the point that they are calling for your removal.

You're not addressing this Government's use information gained from inappropriate privacy breaches to re-injure veterans disabilities.

Veterans are extremely angry with the disrespect they get from from Veterans Review and Appeal Board. You've not addressed why you're keeping the Chair in place after he was caught misspending public funds and misleading the Parliamentary Committee on the Board's denial culture. You're also not addressing the bad behaviour of the Board members who disrespect veterans at hearings, ignore the law and Federal Court guidance to deny rightful benefits and place evidence on veterans files without telling anyone, not to mention the Board breaching veterans privacy.

I could go on but will stop there to say that this Government has to stop misleading Canadians on how they are mistreating veterans and mocking our service and sacrific. Canadians will know that veterans are being taken seriously when you are removed from office as Minister and the appeal of the NVC lawsuit is withdrawn. This Government has proven time and again that veterans will only find justice and fairness in the courts.

Please contact me at (250) 896-3738 if I could provide further information.


Harold Leduc

On 2013-10-08, at 4:58 AM, Minister-Ministre Minister-Ministre wrote:

Dear Veteran / Cher(ère) vétéran,

(For your information / Pour information)

There exists a tangle of misinformation regarding how Canada treats its men and women who have served in uniform - as well as regarding the legislation known as the New Veterans Charter. Improvements made by our government, and validated by the latest Veterans Ombudsman report, indicate that while important gaps do need to be filled, a majority of Canada's veterans receive the support and care that they need.

Almost eight years ago, a unanimous Parliament endorsed wholesale change to veterans' support and services. Since implementing the New Veterans Charter in 2006, our government has invested almost $4.7-billion in new funding to enhance veterans benefits, programs and services. Today, seriously injured veterans receive significant financial support up front, and each month, in addition to having access to world-class treatment from some of the most experienced medical professionals in Canada.

As the Ombudsman notes in his recently released actuarial analysis, "the Enhanced [New Veterans] Charter is focused on wellness and rehabilitation, while the Pension Act focuses on compensation." Our approach is not to simply throw money at a problem or a person. We are focused on providing the best support and care for veterans and their families.

Canadians can and should be proud of the commitment they have shown through their parliamentarians to support Canadian veterans who are injured in the line of duty. According to the Veterans Ombudsman's report, the modern framework now in place to assist our former men and women in uniform "in lieu of a monthly pension cheque, [provides] a suite of benefits and services that encourages wellness and rehabilitation and is consistent with the principles of modern disability management."

The Ombudsman is also prudent enough to provide a caveat: "Frequently, comparisons are made only between the Pensions Act monthly disability pension and the New Veterans Charter lump sum disability award without taking into context the overall suite of monetary and non-monetary benefits provided under the New Veterans Charter. Such 'cherry picking' does not provide an objective view of how all the benefits come together to provide a particular effect."

Our government also introduced significant legislative improvements to the New Veterans Charter in 2011 that were praised in the Ombudsman's report as having "had a positive effect." We incorporated over 160 recommendations that were determined after wide consultation. In particular, we implemented enhancements to the New Veterans Charter that make it easier to qualify for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance, along with a series of other changes that boost the transition of a veteran to civilian life.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the changes made by our government allow for a veteran to have increased choice. They can either receive a one-time lump-sum payment; an annual installment over the number of years of a veteran's choosing; or a combination of these two payment options.

Our government continues to take positive action on behalf of veterans. Last week, I announced that the government of Canada will support a comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, including all enhancements, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada. I call on parliamentarians to focus on how we can better assist veterans. This parliamentary review, guided by representatives elected by the people of Canada, will provide an appropriate forum where all voices can be heard, including and especially those of veterans, their family members, other interested individuals and subject-matter experts. That is where we can work together to enact appropriate change for veterans and their families.
In truth, the very reason for the Ombudsman's work is to support just such a review, and not supersede it as a few critics have falsely claimed.

Our government is committed to the veteran who has sacrificed so much for their country. We will continue to work through Veterans Affairs Canada, with relevant stakeholders, community and families to ensure that we ably meet needs while also being mindful of our responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer.

Our veterans, and Canadians, deserve no less.

Sincerely / Cordialement,

Julian Fantino PC, MP / CP, député
Minister of Veterans Affairs / Ministre des Anciens Combattants

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Minister Fantino to Announce Changes to Help Canada’s Veterans Access Vocational

Minister Fantino to Announce Changes to Help Canada's Veterans Access Vocational and Training Services

Veterans Affairs Canada
Media Advisory
October 7, 2013

Toronto – The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, will make an announcement about cutting red tape for Veterans.
He will be joined by Guy Parent, Canada's Veterans Ombudsman.

Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Location: School of Applied Technology, Building N, Room N117
Humber College
205 Humber College Boulevard
Toronto, ON

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Please note: Minister Fantino will be available at Building FX (Humber
Daycare) at 9:15 a.m. for a photo opportunity prior to the announcement.

– 30 –

Media inquiries:

Janice Summerby
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Legion calls Conservative position in defending veterans lawsuit 'reprehensible'

Legion calls Conservative position in defending veterans lawsuit 'reprehensible'

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The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 7, 2013 12:22PM EDT

OTTAWA -- The Conservative government is facing a revolt among veterans groups for claiming it is not bound by the promises of previous governments in the care of wounded soldiers.

The Royal Canadian Legion is describing the government's position as "reprehensible."

The government, which intends to defend against a class-action lawsuit by veterans of the war in Afghanistan, says it's unfair to bind current and future governments to promises that date back to the First World War.

Just before the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, then-prime minister Robert Borden said it was the government's "first duty" to acknowledge the sacrifices of soldiers and ensure care for the wounded.

Gordon Moore, the legion's Dominion president, says the Conservative government is trying to shed its decades-old moral commitment to troops who defend the country -- something that could affect future conflicts.

Moore says care varies widely between regular force and reserve veterans in Canada, which is why the legion is pushing for a universal standard for the wounded and injured.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Veterans want Minister removed and Government to withdraw their appeal

Veterans want Minister removed and Government to withdraw their appeal

7 October 2013

VICTORIA, BC – Veterans across the country are calling for the immediate removal of Julian Fantino as Minister of Veterans Affairs and the immediate withdrawal of Government's frivolous appeal of the New Veterans Charter lawsuit so the courts can determine veterans right's free of partisan party politics.

In a recent interview on CKNW's Bill Good Show, Minister Fantino said:

"...not every veteran is at the same level of service to country..." he also said "...I spent 40 years in law enforcement, I too have served. I've been in the trenches and heard the guns go off. I guess I can also put myself and other colleagues, firefighters and other police officers who put themselves in harms way every day in the same category..."

"How insensitive! Just when you think this Government can't sink any lower it appoints a controversial ex-cop as Minister of Veterans Affairs and now he's belittled veteran's service and sacrifice. Minister Fantino knows that unlike police and firefighters, disabilities are a calculated part of military service because members can't refuse to work at risk without serious consequences including life imprisonment, even if it means losing their lives because of the unique unlimited liability nature of military service" Harold Leduc says.

Fantino recently announced a review of the controversial New Veterans Charter (NVC) then made the above comments. At the same time Government lawyers filed a notice to appeal the BC Supreme Court decision that allows six Afghanistan veterans to move towards certifying a class action lawsuit on the deficiencies in the NVC. The lawsuit is put forward pro bono by a top-notch team of Vancouver lawyers from Miller Thompson LLP supported by the Equitas Society.

Government lawyers previously told the Court that government doesn't have an obligation to care for disabled veterans and they are no better than recipients of welfare.

"This Government works so hard to deceive Canadians on it's abuse of veterans' rights that Minister Fantino, his colleague Erin O'Toole and Government lawyers don't seem to be able to remember which version of the truth they are supposed to tell on any given day. By mocking veteran's service and sacrifice he's angered the very people he is supposed to protect including Canada's most severely disabled. He's disgraced himself and our Country. Both he and the Government's appeal have to go. Veterans are fed up with this Government's ongoing disrespect" says Leduc.


If you would like more information on this topic or would like to schedule an interview with Harold Leduc, please call at (250) 896-3738 or email at

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

New announcement: Deadly dispute: Calling for accountability from the RCMP after vet shot dead

Deadly dispute: Calling for accountability from the RCMP after former soldier shot dead

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Published Saturday, October 5, 2013 9:30AM EDT

When Greg Matters signed up for the Canadian Army in 1994, he accepted that one day he might end up in the line of fire and not survive. He never expected to die on home soil.

But on Sept. 10th, 2012, he was shot to death in a bizarre showdown with an RCMP Emergency Response Team on the farm where he was raised near Prince George, BC.

"None of it was necessary," said his psychiatrist, Dr. Greg Passey, in an interview with W5.

"He was alone on the farm, no firearms. Nobody was being threatened. They could have waited a month. Could have starved him out, and he'd be alive today."

"I just don't understand how a domestic issue got so serious," said Greg's sister, Tracey, who lives in Australia and rushed back to Canada when she learned her brother was dead. "It's such an overreaction."

Greg had served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia and left the army with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"He had all the classic signs," said Passey. "The nightmares, the anxiety, the panic attacks, all of those things."

A quiet man who was known for his courtesy, Greg was a changed man – paranoid and short tempered. That led to run-ins and threats of violence to the police. It was all made worse by a feud with his brother, Trevor, over land they had bought together. It got so bad, they took out restraining orders on each other.

It came to a head early in the morning of Sept. 9th, 2012, when Greg chased his brother off his mother`s property. Greg followed him, stopped his brother`s vehicle and the two had a brief scuffle.

When Greg got back to his house, he called 911 and asked the police for help. When no cruisers showed up, Greg became frustrated and called 911 five times over the next two hours.

At this point, events took a bizarre twist. Police decided Greg was the agitator and set out to arrest him. Suddenly, Greg, the man who asked police for help had become their target.

That evening, police arrived at the house where he lived with his mother asked him to meet them on the road.

"Greg did start to walk out to the road," said Lorraine Matters, his mother. "Once he saw the police cars out here, he came back and told me, Mom, I'm so afraid, I can't walk out to the road."

Greg's refusal to meet with police raised the tension and set off a train of events that would end in tragedy 26 hours later.

Frightened and confused, Greg headed for a cabin on the property. It was his refuge, a quiet place he came to when he was upset and wanted to be alone.

But police believed Greg had a gun.

He didn't.

Nevertheless, they deployed a heavily armed Emergency Response Team to arrest him.

Meanwhile, his mother told police she would find him and bring him to the station in the morning.

When Lorraine tried to drive to the cabin to help Greg, the police arrested her. She claims that one officer grabbed her by the neck and dragged her along on her back.

"I was begging for them not to hurt my son. So when he dragged me, he put me in a sitting position and then took his knee and just drove me so hard in my chest that I didn't know if I'd ever get up off the ground."

Within hours, Greg was dead.

"It's just such an overreaction," said his sister, Tracey. "Why was it escalated to such a high degree? It does not make sense to me whatsoever."

The case ended up on the desk of Richard Rosenthal, the Chief Civilian Director of the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

"Our job is to look at cases involving death or serious harm at the hands of police," he told W5 in an interview. "And determine whether or not an officer may have committed an offense."

RCMP officers who had been on the scene told investigators that Greg had threatened them with a hatchet, so Rosenthal ruled that they had shot Greg lawfully in self-defence.

But Rosenthal's mandate was narrow and there were other issues he could not investigate that bothered him.

"Certainly legitimate questions were raised about the decision making process, about why the ERT was deployed," he said.

Those questions prompted Rosenthal to send the case to the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.

"The police were not dealing with a hardened criminal here," said Cameron Ward, the lawyer hired by the Matters family to handle their case.

"They knew who he was, they knew what they were dealing with and it seems to me a much more measured calm, compassionate response would have been appropriate."

There was also the issue of Lorraine Matters' treatment by police. That became a separate complaint to the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.

"Isn't the mother an ally who can help you de-escalate the situation?" said David Eby who was legal counsel for the BC Civil Liberties Association before his election to the provincial legislature.

"It's pretty clear to me that she wasn't seen as such by the ERT," Erby said.

But Greg's family has little faith their case will get a fair hearing from the Commission for Public Complaints.

"I believe it's a situation where the RCMP will be investigating the RCMP," said Tracey Matters. "From what I've heard from other cases, it's one of the most unsatisfactory processes."

The BC Coroners Service will also hold a public inquest into the death of Greg Matters. But the jury can only make recommendations to prevent a future tragedy. They cannot point a finger of blame.

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