Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

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Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by Guest on Mon 09 May 2016, 11:51

By Sean Bruyea

Defence Watch Guest Writer

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is set to host their most elaborate dog and pony ‘consultation’ show to date, all in the name of caring for veterans.

Under the stewardship of Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr and Deputy Minister Walter Natynczyk, the Trudeau government is hosting a “stakeholder summit” May 9 and 10 with “broader representation” planned than three previous summits. Are these summits along with the six announced policy groups about meaningful stakeholder consultation that produces needed and timely change or merely public relations exercises to ensure media and stakeholder control?

The list of invitees for the summit is long and curious. Thirty-nine veteran-interested organizations, charities, not-for-profits and support groups are invited along with a host of unnamed individuals. These organizations include the Royal Canadian Legion and VeteransCanada.ca, Canada’s two largest veterans’ organizations. Also included are veterans’ organizations that claim to represent veterans but do not appear to be registered entities and/or have more than two or three members and a Facebook page.

The previous and current summit along with Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letter to Minister Hehr are predominantly limited to discussions about the injured and their families under the new veterans’ charter. Don Leonardo, President of VeteransCanada.ca, emphasized in a telephone conversation that “this stakeholder summit should invite only those directly affected by new veterans charter programs, meaning the injured CF soldiers and their families, not World War II and Korean War veterans organizations and certainly not civilian charities.”

But what is a stakeholder? Under the current Trudeau government’s promise of open and accountable government, “Departmental stakeholders” are restricted to registered lobbyists, their employees and corporations employing lobbyists. Also included: “individuals employed in, contracted by, or who otherwise represent corporations and organizations that have current or anticipated official dealings” with government.

Noticeably absent from such definitions are the vast majority of veterans. Approximately 90% of Canada’s nearly 700,000 serving and retired Canadian Forces (CF) members do not belong to any veterans’ organization. Furthermore, VAC has consistently resisted consulting directly with veterans affected by departmental programs. The last client satisfaction survey in 2010 indicated a response rate at 29% compared to 54% in 2007 while CF veteran client satisfaction among those few who replied was 67%.

This didn’t stop former Minister of Veterans Affairs Erin O’Toole from claiming during the last election that veterans are near unanimous and that “ninety-nine per cent of what I hear is positive”.

If these summits and groups are closed to most veterans, then participation should require a minimum of either an actively involved community directly affected by VAC policies and programs or a recognized expertise and/or knowledge-base to understand the importance and impact of such policies. Arguably, many invited organizations have neither.

As for open and accountable government, former Chief of Defence Staff Mr. Natynczyk keeps tight control over participants. The agenda is unilaterally decided by VAC and published at the last minute, only available to participants when they arrive. Recording the proceedings is prohibited with cell phones often confiscated.

Those few veterans or individuals who have expertise in understanding veterans’ policies are diluted by pseudo-veteran representatives or organizations that receive funding from the federal government. Meanwhile other invited “stakeholders” are employees of the federal government. Also present, representatives from the six VAC advisory groups that are reportedly bound by confidentiality agreements for no justifiable reason.

How willing are veterans to speak honestly, assertively and meaningfully for timely change when government holds so many cards to ensure change is slow, incremental and often insubstantial?

“The summits are a farce,” said Perry Gray, Chief Editor of VeteranVoice.info, Canada’s oldest open internet news and knowledge portal on veterans’ issues. Vigorous debate is discouraged. Mr. Natynczyk, he noted, has also urged participants to raise problems only with Veterans Affairs. Mr. Gray acknowledged that although a farce he attends because veterans deserve to know what is being said on their behalf.

Minister Hehr and former Minister O’Toole do have one thing in common: they employ the same bureaucratic rhetoric about “treating veterans with care, compassion, and respect”. For Canadian citizens who are willing to wear a military uniform and far too often die defending rights like freedom of expression, rhetoric without substance is demeaning enough. Having a former general and federal government representative chair a group of often marginalized individuals highly indoctrinated to be subservient to authority is truly a farce of a most un-Canadian kind.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/veterans-affairs-holds-stakeholder-summit-but-is-it-just-a-dog-and-pony-show

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by Guest on Tue 10 May 2016, 08:27

well some good points to pull from there I guess . open and honest debate would be nice vigorous as it needs to be as well . freedom of expression sure we all get that but we don't lol .
not in this summit I suspect hell some vets cant get it within their own vets org .

I do have hope some good comes from this summit hope is the one thing I have . im guessing until these summits allow full freedom of expression and the vets orgs invited have actual vets as members and allow their members full freedom of expression actual veterans voices are just being silenced and distorted all the way the way up the system .

I guess as subjected in this article the military system engrained in the vets is being used against us in some way . sure is possible I suppose . vets are just going to have to wake up and realize they are not in the military any more and speak to walt as walt the guy that's trying to hurt them or help them the guy that's trying to silence them or listen to them however they perceive .

if mr hehr really wants to do the right thing he should already know what that is so just do it .

if by now he still doesn't get it fine then sit down and listen to vets . not from vets orgs with no vets in them or vets orgs that muzzle their own vets and then muzzling the orgs themselves .

if this is all about the NVC fine lock yourself in a room for a week with NVC vet files and start making phone calls . he will get it right from the horses mouth . no dilution , distortion or complete silencing of what vets actually think . just plain honesty . yup im shure he will get more than he bargained for but he really needs to hear it .

always question authority

propat

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by prawnstar on Tue 10 May 2016, 12:13

Right on Propat. They can have all the frickin summits they want but if the right people aren't there they are a waste of time. The senior bureaucrats run the show and the politicians just play lip service. If we started a campaign to email bomb the people that really run the show we might get some results.

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by Guest on Tue 10 May 2016, 13:14

Agreed !

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by Guest on Tue 10 May 2016, 19:19

ya prawn that could help its something I would encourage . it does get actual vets voices to the ones that need to hear them with out any of the filters . thing is these guys are slow to respond . I constantly right these people and the response time is deplorable .

just got a reply yesterday from the MND from an email that was forwarded to him by the PM im thinking two months ago from an email I sent the PM a month prior to that . oh and his response well he is going to forward it to the MVA LOL.

so ya a campaign would be great to get the real thoughts of vets to those that need it but im thinking it would require a great deal of co-ordination and would also make response times even slower than they are already witch are dismal at best .

propat

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by prawnstar on Tue 10 May 2016, 19:39

It would be hard to co-ordinate for sure. I once took on an Ontario senior bureaucrat over hiring procedures in the government. I went to the Ombudsman's office and after six or eight months it went no where. I went to my MPP and he told me personally, that these people are basically fireproof and what they say goes. He said even to the appropriate minister would not challenge the decision. As it turned out one year later the fat cow was "re-assigned" to an office somewhere in Queen's Park.

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Re: Veterans Affairs holds “stakeholder summit” but is it just a dog and pony show?

Post by Ex Member on Tue 10 May 2016, 19:54

WOW that's just crazy . that many months just to be told THAT . frack . no fracking wonder government's cant get things done .  im betting you were really impressed with that response lol . but at least they got "re-assigned" . hey that reminds me a letter righting campaign may have gotten my and others old CM to " move on to other things " whatever that meant I asked didn't really get much of a response and didn't want to push it .

not sure mind you but I believe we got her axed . I sure hope so . thing is I believe these type of campaigns can effect real change if well co-ordinated .

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