Breach Of Trust or Selling a Pig's Ear as a Silk Purse
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- Jan 2019
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Breach Of Trust or Selling a Pig's Ear as a Silk Purse
By Perry Gray
“How can you tell when a politician is
lying? When his [or her] lips move.”
Minister of Veterans Affairs and his deputy, Walt Natynczyk, have
had plenty of practice moving their lips as they discuss their new
“Pension for Life” with Canadian Veterans. They have done so over 40
times in the past year at town halls, regional summits and most
recently a national summit.
All of these activities have been
part of the national consultation process before the pension starts
in 2019. Both men will say that this has been a very thorough
Many Veterans will disagree because their input
has been ignored. You only have to read Brian Forbes or Sean
Bruyea’s articles to understand how insignificant has been the
“contribution” of Veterans.
When Veterans attending the
national summit complained about this, the minister and his deputy
Ironically, both men expect the Veterans who
have spent years providing advice on this pension to continue to
provide advise in the future.
Sadly no one got outraged at
the national summit and many were also shocked to learn that the
advisory groups, which have been largely ignored during the
development of the new pension, and have been inactive since early
2017 (despite being told that groups would be several times each
year to discuss policy) are still considered to be “in operation”.
But all is well because Veterans will receive the pension plan
soon even though it bear little resemblance to what was expected.
To understand the completely different perceptions of Veterans
Affairs and Canadian Veterans, one has to delve into the byzantine
policy development process of the federal government.
Liberal Party announced that it would “reinstate the life long
pension” during the 2015 election. Both Liberal ministers, Kent Hehr
and Seamus O’Reagan were given detailed mandate letters, which
included the following statement:
pensions as an option for our injured Veterans, while ensuring that
every injured Veteran has access to financial advice and support so
that they can determine the form of compensation that works best for
them and their families.”
Now it is important to consider the
words that are used. First, the intent was to re-instate and then it
was to re-establish. People may see these as meaning the same thing,
but policy makers would argue otherwise.
Let us consider one
definition for re-establish:
to return something to an
earlier good condition or position
So what preceded the new
The only pension provided to Veterans is
contained in the Pension Act, which was developed during World War
2. For many Veterans, this has been used as the baseline for
discussions about pensions.
Unfortunately, the previous
Liberal government decided to modernise the antiquated Pension Act
and developed the New Veterans Charter, which is now used almost
exclusively by Veterans Affairs in its policy development since
2006. The only problem is that there is no pension in the NVC, only
a lump sum.
Basically, the old pension was replaced by a one
time payment or lump sum. When Veterans complained that this was
unfair, Veterans Affairs slowly began to consider another option.
This was during the period in which the Conservative Party formed
One idea that was offered was to pay the lump
sum over a longer period of time. And this was debated up until 2015
when the Liberals won the election and decided that a pension was a
good idea, but it could not appear to be like the Conservative
Unfortunately, bureaucrats and politicians decided
that re-establishing the Pension Act was not going to happen because
it conflicted with the NVC. The Pension Act was now some heretical
thing that needed to be expunged from the policy dogma.
new pension may look like a modification of the Conservative
proposal, but Seamus O’Reagan will argue that it is not despite the
fact that his deputy was developing the plan when he was first
appointed in 2014.
What is really appalling about this whole
story is that Canadian Veterans have experienced it all before with
the NVC. The implementation was almost identical; Veterans Affairs
develops policy with minimal input from stakeholders, and then tries
to convince Canadians that stakeholders were instrumental in the
How gullible do the minister and his deputy
think that the majority of Veterans are? Have they never hear of the
old expression fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame me.
As well do the two men really think that Veterans will continue
to trust them after violating their trust, being grossly
disrespectful and exploiting their loyalty?
If yes, now who
is really gullible???
Editor’s Note: This was written before
the cabinet shuffle was announced.
Perry Gray is a
Regular Force veteran, serving as the Chief Editor of VVi. Perry has
been with VVi for 18 years.
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