by Wolf William Solkin
SECURITY(?) SITUATION at STE. ANNE'S (VETERANS) HOSPITAL.
Over the past several months, and more resoundingly since the monstrous massacres and beheadings by egregious extremists of civilians and soldiers alike all over the so-called "civilized" world, there has been a cacophony of rabid rants by various verminous "Islamist State" terrorist groups, urging their brainwashed (but by no means brain-dead) minions to stay at home in their own country of residence and, in our case, to kill CANADIAN civilians, police and members of the military.
We need only bow our heads in tragic tribute to the recent gut-wrenching loss of two of our own, both proud serving members of the CAF, who were cold-bloodedly murdered in front of our very eyes and on our own soil, to realize that the infamous call to Jihad has already been heeded here at home, and will escalate exponentially world wide,as it is already doing on an almost daily basis.
It is with regard to that very issue, particularly as it impinges upon Ste. Anne's Hospital, that we should all immediately and determinedly solicit our respective representatives in Parliament, to put pressure on the Hon. Steven Blaney, Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to spend a lot less time on pronouncing public placebos, and much more effort to ensure the prompt provision of an urgently needed comprehensive and effective program of preparedness and protection for the hundreds of handicapped Canadian Veterans at Ste. Anne's Hospital, plus the thousands of additional people involved daily in sustaining, supporting and enhancing our patients' overall health and welfare.
As a patient/resident of Ste. Anne's , I cannot help but be painfully aware of how critically close this institution is to fitting the perfect profile on any "lone-wolf" terrorist's wish list. We are the veritable poster child for an ideal soft target. We are not near any heavily policed city core, quite isolated from any surrounding built-up areas, yet very close to two major highways for easy and quick ingress and egress. Ours is a readily recognized Canadian government facility on federal land, fully staffed by federal employees. It is replete with a large body of disabled, confused and bed-ridden patients, plus the presence of hundreds of OSI/PTSD out-patients of the present generation. All are Canadian ex-service men and women, having honourably served Canada in World War II and Korea, sundry peace -keeping missions, and Afghanistan. The Afghan war plus the current RCAF support sorties and Special forces forays in the Iraq/Syria sector, appear to have been the latest pseudo-excuses for the Islamist extremists' most recent outpouring of terrorist threats to the safety and security of Canadians everywhere. However, the betting odds favour focusing on a vulnerable venue such as Ste. Anne's Hospital, which presents itself as
a plump plum, ripe and ready for the picking. "They" don't have to be rocket scientists to recognize how unbelievably unprotected we are!
As an added incentive to being a prime priority for any transient terrorist, Ste. Anne's is frequently the destination of choice for visitations by various groups of our armed forces, numerous Royal Canadian Legionnaires, platoons of military cadets, and hosts of kindergarten to teen-age school children, plus assorted Service Club members, all coming and going every day of the year. In addition we welcome a plethora of Veterans' visiting family members and friends, let alone the vast array of volunteers who constantly serve "their" Veterans in innumerable and invaluable ways. And last, but by no means least, the countless numbers of devoted and dedicated employees, from practitioners to preposees, who keep this facility functioning at full throttle, every precious day.
And yet, against the spectre of one or more armed and angry terrorists, I, among others, cannot discern any significant sign of safety or security measures to speak of, other than a squad of civilian Commissionaires who, while serving mostly as gate-keepers, sitting serenely in their glass booths (except when they leave their posts to pop outside for a smoke), have their unarmed hands full just 'buzzing' people into or out of the building, often without even asking for any identification, as long as they simply sign in as a patient's visitor. In point of fact, one of the well-used building entrances is perfunctorily "manned" by camera and microphone alone, while another entry is just locked up and left unattended.
As an irresistible aside, I must add that these same Commissionaires are most content, competent and conscientious at their jobs, when barring bona fide patients/Veterans from attending special events such as Remembrance Day Services, if the latter (all delinquents in their nineties, and most in wheelchairs) have criminally forgotten or lost their invitation cards. To give due credit where debit is due, they do perform perfectly well as unfeeling ushers and bullying bouncers, but as "Security Guards" ??? ........stop pulling my one semi-useable leg! Assigning those rent-a-cop wannabees to that task would be hugely hilarious, if it weren't so hazardous to our health!
Out of conscientious concern for those of my comrades who expressed their ongoing anxiety to me about their exposure to possible personal harm, I broached these breaches in our purportedly protective protocols to Ste.Anne's uppermost echelons of Management. I was told that everything was well in place for our overall safety and security, and was directed to meet with the Director of Strategic Services (whatever that connotes). That person would then inform me of the all-encompassing security measures already in hand, so as to reassure me that "All's well with the world", thus hoping to preclude any need for me to delve further into the matter . I was then told how there were quick communication links with nearby local emergency, fire and police personnel, who , AFTER being notified by Ste. Anne's, could arrive within ten minutes(!). to cope with whatever major problems arose to confront us. In addition we were to count on the Commissionaires in their glass booths, ready to rush to our rescue. When I made so bold as to inquire whether said glass was bullet-proof against an automatic assault weapon, the astounding answer was "I'm sorry, but I don't really know; that had not really occurred to me"...and with that simplistic statement of stultifying ignorance stemming from the in-house head of security, it took no time at all for me to confirm my gut feeling that, insofar as its security concerns are concerned, Ste. Anne's Hospital is indeed in deep doo doo , and has much to be considerably concerned about !
The incontrovertible fact that this facility is very much In harm's way and faces a serous security vacuum cannot be denied, even by those bureaucrats who are blinded by budgetary boundaries. . My comrades and I plead for prompt and preemptive protective action,not just "asap", but "immediately, if not sooner". We need to be provided NOW with an effective sufficiency of well trained, fully equipped, and highly motivated security guardians, preferably readily available and otherwise unassigned military personnel, on a full 24 / 7 / 52 schedule. No plan is perfect, but perhaps a minimal presence of two military vehicles with two appropriately armed soldiers in each, constantly circling our building(s) in opposite directions, is but one simple solution (and at no added cost!). Only by some strong and visible armed presence BEFOREHAND, can one hope to discourage, deter, prevent, or at the very least mitigate the effects of any sudden devastating "lone wolf" attack by some crazed Canadian convert/jihadist, upon those Veterans who had, in their time, faithfully fulfilled their sworn duty to serve and protect the Government of Canada and its citizens from enemies at home and abroad. They now need those roles to be reversed, and that favour to be returned......PRONTO !
My next obvious move was to write to Public Safety Minister Blaney, (formerly Minister of VAC,who is fully familiar with both our plant and population), to impress upon him that he must needs appreciate Ste. Anne Hospital's precarious position, and erase the fears that beset some of the more frail and fragile among us. I did just that, not once but twice (in fact, sizeable portions of this column's comments have been lifted and/or paraphrased from that correspondence), but nary a nod or Ray of recognition from the very person whose paid job it is to "minister" to the safety and security needs of the self-same citizenry which employs him. I even remarked that, notwithstanding his time and effort expended on his pet piece of anti-terror legislation labelled C-51, its prodigious piles of paper don't stand a snowball's chance in hell against a fistful,of C-4, or an AK-47 burst directed at Ste. Anne's much vaunted but equally valueless entry posts, which rightfully should be one of the first concerns of his ministerial agenda.
In sharp contrast to Blaney's apparent indifference to my protestations, I did later receive the inbred courtesy of a personal response from General (Ret'd) Walter J. Natynczyk, the recently appointed and, I firmly believe, devoted and dedicated Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada...a veritable "Veteran's Veteran". His forthright letter referred to there being "a detailed security plan in place to protect all of our Veterans and employees at Ste. Anne's Hospital (which)) is reviewed and monitored regularly...in line with the Policy on Government Security ( of which I confess my ignorance)...based on on-going risk and threat assessments...that Ste. Anne's...is one of the most secure hospitals in Quebec, in terms of infrastructure...and continuous presence of "security officers?" ( the question and quotation marks are mine). The Deputy Minister, in whom I have an implicit trust as to both his integrity and intentions, added that "the protection and security of our Veterans and employees at Ste. Anne's Hospital is one of my top priorities". I believe him, as far as it goes, however, I do not believe that it goes far enough to fulfil the functions which I feel are warranted by our glaring weaknesses. I was brought up to "Trust, but Verify", and I have yet to arrive at that desired destination while I envision Ste. Anne's Veterans so very much in harm's way. I hope to hell and back that my disquietingly queasy qualms prove to have been unjustified at the end of the day, but should my prediction pan out, and my comrades and I suffer due to lack of foresight and the absence of an abundance of caution as our shield, then our severed heads could well be upon the head of the Minister of Public Safety(etc.) and his bundle of bureaucratic billmeisters.
There is no paranoia prevalent among 'the troops'. We at Ste. Anne's simply have a better observation post from which to detect the raw reality of this new and insidious invasion of our fought-for way of life. We are also better able to identify the need to bring up reinforcements to take proactive steps to confront the enveloping enemy BEFORE he strikes at us, rather than just a reactive, post -facto defensive position easily overrun and inevitably too little and too late to be of any use, other than to bind the bloody wounds of the traumatized survivors .
Undoubtedly, this Veterans' refuge at Ste. Anne's deserves the same level of preparedness and protection as is now afforded to other government buildings, offices and agencies. Similarly, it must merit the same standards of safety and security as are now furnished to our elected representatives and their bureaucratic buffers in our own Canadian Houses of Parliament.
Somehow this scenario inevitably brings to mind a venerable Biblical adjuration; something about...."Do unto others as you would ...".
Surely we would all wish not to have to mourn the tragic loss of any more true Canadian patriots such as W/O Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo...even two is too many to tolerate. No more need be said, as the dead clearly speak so forcefully to the living, as well as for themselves.
SAFETY. FIRST, LAST AND ALWAYS !
To all in the audience...do feel free to put in your two cents' worth ( even if it's only in current Canadian currency) , and, lest we forget........
....... LEAVE NO VET BEHIND !
Wolf William Solkin
Ste. Anne de Bellevue, P.Q.
Other articles to read:
A VETERAN'S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran
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