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How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing

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How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing

Post by Guest on Wed 06 Sep 2017, 07:05

How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing


If O’Reagan and the Trudeau government truly wish ‘real change’ as they promised, then cultural change at Veterans Affairs must be their focus.

Seamus O’Regan outside Rideau Hall on Aug. 28 just before getting sworn in as Veterans Affairs minister. Sean Bruyea says if O’Regan wants to have a positive impact, he must change the culture at Veterans Affairs Canada.The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

By SEAN BRUYEA

PUBLISHED : Monday, Sept. 4, 2017 12:00 AM, THE HILL TIMES


OTTAWA—Removing Minister Kent Hehr from Veterans Affairs Canada was the right thing to do. The new minister, Seamus O’Regan, must do better.

Just six days prior, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commemorated the calamitous losses Canadians suffered on the beaches of Dieppe 75 years ago. In the midst of a downpour, the prime minister folded his umbrella, noting that enduring rain is nothing compared to the bullets of war.

Such apparently unscripted compassion has been the hallmark of Trudeau’s repeated promises to make things right for Canada’s veterans. Sadly, nothing has meaningfully changed in the department mandated to care for them. Its persistent affliction: a profound cultural disconnection from veterans’ needs in the only federal department heaquartered outside of Ottawa—in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The best Hehr could muster in his almost 22 months as minister was an unimaginative barrage of talking points written by an insensitive senior bureaucracy. When challenged by media or veterans, he was prone to outbursts of self-righteous parroting or to abruptly end town halls, hastily heading for the door.

One would expect that the tragic circumstances that led to Minister Hehr becoming a quadriplegic and his ensuing struggles would have engendered sympathy, compassion, and a sense of urgency to make real and substantive changes at Veterans Affairs.

Unfortunately, he frequently appeared insincere and indifferent to the suffering of veterans. He preferred to let former chief of defence staff Walter Natynczyk run the show as the department’s deputy minister.

Natynczyk, like the veterans ombudsman Guy Parent, spent their adult lives in uniform then glided into privileged positions to serve bureaucratic commandments. They could not and have not been able to understand the urgency of needed changes that would improve the lives of veterans. Likewise they have sidelined and/or berated those that voice their concerns, especially via the media. Like all military members, they come from a dysfunctional military culture that views exercising freedom of expression as a betrayal of Canada and the uniform.

Minister O’Regan likewise could bring assets or emotional baggage to the job. His struggles with alcoholism may offer personal insight into the single biggest health obstacle faced by both serving members and veterans: mental health.

If Minister O’Reagan and the Trudeau government truly wish “real change” as they promised, then cultural change at the department must be their focus. Contrary to endless bureaucratic protestations, unilaterally and heartlessly switching from lifelong pensions to one-time lump sums for disabled veterans was a callous, cost-saving scheme. The proof lies in the dithering on the Liberal campaign promise to return to lifelong pensions: it will cost too much to switch back.

Replacing Guy Parent and Walter Natynczyk are necessary if the new minister wishes honest, independent, and gutsy advice.

Comprehensively rethinking the multitudinous advisory groups and stakeholder committee meetings would also go a long way towards soliciting courageous, trustworthy, knowledge-based, and credible guidance that will help all veterans and their families. Creating new groups with open nomination processes requiring clear credentials, whether they be education, valid experience, and/or a proven right to represent disabled veterans appointees, would be a good start. Operating them in complete transparency is a must that would also fulfill Liberal promises of the same.

Profound and authentic change will only occur if Canadians understands the true costs of serving in uniform. Veterans deserve their reconciliation commission through a fully public judicial inquiry into the treatment of veterans and their families over the past five decades. They need to tell their story and Canadians need to listen.

It would be regrettable if O’Regan were appointed because of his journalism background and a mediagenic personality with the potential to spin the truth. Since multiple veteran scandals in 2010, the department has been on a seven-year spin-fest, currently employing more than three dozen individuals in their communications directorate, including two directors general and five directors. Veterans don’t deserve to be publicly browbeaten with the implication that since Veterans Affairs is so tremendous, any failure to receive help must be the veteran’s fault.

The Liberals through O’Regan can effect meaningful change. Let’s hope they don’t spend the next two years until the election manipulating silence in the veterans’ community while bullying, berating, or benching anyone who speaks out.

Canadians in uniform fought and died for this democracy. Let’s repay them the very least of what they are owed: their democratic voice and fulsome participation in an open and transparent path to healing; not ceremonial figureheads, propaganda, and endless excuses to avoid doing the right thing.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, has a graduate degree in public ethics, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer, and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.

The Hill Times


http://www.hilltimes.com/2017/09/04/seamus-oregan-can-right-thing/117640

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Re: How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing

Post by pinger on Thu 07 Sep 2017, 14:39

A very smart article.

Here's a little 2 cents of mine.

The OVO did guide me to a positive result a few years back.

That said, I agree that... " Replacing Guy Parent and Walter Natynczyk are necessary if the new minister wishes honest, independent, and gutsy advice. "

However, If that ever happened, ANY MVA would have to be a real-time receptive johnny on the spot, mindful of the replacements, leaving bureacrats in the dust and keeping JT puppetmaster happy.
Possible. Just very hard to do...

Meanwhile, how much WORSE could things get.....

pinger


Last edited by pinger on Thu 07 Sep 2017, 14:40; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing

Post by Guest on Thu 07 Sep 2017, 16:24

pinger wrote:A very smart article.

Here's a little 2 cents of mine.

The OVO did guide me to a positive result a few years back.

That said, I agree that... " Replacing Guy Parent and Walter Natynczyk are necessary if the new minister wishes honest, independent, and gutsy advice. "

However, If that ever happened, ANY MVA would have to be a real-time receptive johnny on the spot, mindful of the replacements, leaving bureacrats in the dust and keeping JT puppetmaster happy.
Possible. Just very hard to do...

Meanwhile, how much WORSE could things get.....

pinger

Well said pinger.

Sean knows very well what's going on and he certainly understands the direction that has to take place in order to get our file running in the right direction. I posted the new Ministers Facebook page in the "Veteran Help / General Questions" category under the topic "Directory & Contact List For Veterans (Veterans Help Line" STICKY, and I noticed that Sean's article was posted on the new Ministers Facebook page, hopefully the new Minister reads it and keeps it at hand.

I think that the OVO and the DMVA know that they have to go with the grain of the bureaucratic system in order to survive their position, they want to hold on to their seat or cushion as long as they can, if they rock the boat, they know they'll be history so they go with the flow to ensure nothing interferes with their own self interest. Doesn't do a lot of good to the disabled Veterans, but secures themselves. Unfortunately I believe the new Minister is going to fall right into the bureaucratic system that works in a way that protects the future of the bureaucrats by writing up legislation that fools the Minister and most of the Country that what they are bringing to the table is great for disabled Veterans and their Families. You've all seen it, CIA...increasing the lump sum and reducing the retro paid back to Veterans by the CPI working in reverse. These are tactics meant to give the illusion that the government is doing great on the Veterans file but in reality, those who understand fully what's going on know very well that it is in no way coming close to the old pension act in terms of lifelong security. Wait for the lifelong pension to be announced, read the wording well and understand it before commenting on it because I can guarantee that it will not be worth the paper it's written on. And don't forget about the re opening of the offices, that really fits into the priority list, they bypassed the lifelong pension for a very good reason!! Now like Hehr, O'Regan is going to have to learn the ins and out of our file which will take time, time that won't help NVC disabled Veterans, in the past the Ministers have fell into the arms of the bureaucrats, the bureaucrats are experts at what they do to help themselves, they've been doing this job far longer then any Minister and come from different stripes, this point of any new Minister starting out to learn is geared towards those bureaucrats that will invite him with open arms to hear what and how the file is to be run. In the meantime absolutely nothing changes for the disabled Veteran except for the odd gap fix that is a forever a constant way the file is run. The file is run in this manner because of the bureaucrats, and the bureaucrats that have made the NVC and installed the ongoing gap fixing within it, to secure their own well being. The old pension act was to good to disabled Veterans, it put the bureaucrats at risk because once the Veteran was at his or hers top percentage they were secured for life which put the bureaucrats in a bad way as they were no longer required, that's why we have the NVC, and unless the new Minister realizes this from the beginning, and acts aggressively to stop the bureaucrats in their tracks, nothing will change.

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Re: How Seamus O’Regan can do the right thing

Post by prawnstar on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 11:19

We'll see if Mr O'reagan can stay away from the bureaucratic tele prompters and see thru the smoke and mirrors.

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