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When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

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When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

Post by propat on Mon 19 Mar 2018, 18:23

When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

By Sean Bruyea

"Why are we still fighting certain veterans groups in court? Because they're asking for more than we are able to give right now." And with that, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau betrayed a key election promise for veterans.

Behind the scenes, the Trudeau government also continues a longstanding war on veterans in minimizing or denying access to democracy and due process.

On April 1, 2018, the Trudeau Liberals will implement three new programs for veterans in an effort to yet again revitalize the highly controversial legislation, colloquially known as the new veterans charter. This earth-shattering change in veterans’ benefits passed by the Liberals in 2005, replaced lifelong pensions with one-time lump sums.

The details of these new programs, including an allowance for those caring for the most disabled and an education program for healthy veterans will be discussed in a later article. First, the perversion of democracy that leads up to April 1st.

These programs were first tabled last March in the House of Commons. Before debate could occur, the programs were quietly rolled into the 2017 budget omnibus bill. Sure, the Finance Committee held hearings but the veterans’ component of the bill was never debated and no witnesses were called to speak on them.

Even the Conservatives who deployed the omnibus tactic in 2014 allowed veterans to testify. I was one of the witnesses. I also testified to the same House Finance committee when pre-budget consultations were held in 2016. Little or no positive change resulted but comments were put on the record.

Since that time, the bureaucrats’ hold on this government, and apparently the opposition, has become unbreakable.

The Chair of the House Finance Committee wrote to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) on May 3, 2017, referring to the Committee the new veterans’ programs. The Veterans Affairs committee posted the veterans’ legislation on their “Work” page as a study. There it sat until I wrote an email on March 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm asking the Chair and all members when meetings will be held to carry out the study. The clerk politely responded in an email at 5:16pm that since the Committee did not schedule any meetings, the study “will be removed” from the ACVA’s website.

Either my email was not distributed to opposition members or they saw such democratic process for veterans as a trivial concern. I did not receive one response or outreach from a Committee member.

Apparently, bureaucrats have been adroitly briefing Committee members with overwhelming detail and bombast. Not only have Liberal members acquiesced to the bureaucratic agenda of minimal program substance with maximum rhetoric about how much government is doing for veterans. The opposition parties have failed to enlist any expertise or gumption to challenge such bureaucratic bosh.

This allowed bureaucrats to be far more brazen with the regulatory process. First a quick primer. Regulations are the rules created under the authority of laws. Regulations also carry the full force of the law. Considering the importance of regulations, it is surprising that law-makers rarely if ever involve themselves in the regulatory process except when Cabinet signs off on the fait accompli final drafts. All the more reason opposition should zealously stick their nose in the passage of laws in Parliament.

There is one last faint hope for democracy to wiggle its way into this legal sausage factory. Regulations typically allow for public comment, through a Government of Canada website, before the Clerk of the Privy Council prepares the final draft for Cabinet’s approval.

However, Veterans Affairs bureaucrats have been more than devious at ensuring minimal public input into the regulations affecting the new veterans charter over the past 12 years. Twice, bureaucrats posted draft regulations over Christmas holidays and once in the middle of the summer.

This time, bureaucrats didn’t bother with crafty timing. They merely ensured that no public input would be allowed. In two separate emails, Veterans Affairs explained that Treasury Board “exempted” the regulations “from pre-publication”, and then “Cabinet” exempted the regulations from allowing public input. The justification for the exemption: it is “protected under a Cabinet confidence”.

Analysis posted with the regulations also explain that “VAC sought feedback on the creation of the… [April 1st, 2018]… initiatives…from its six ministerial advisory groups” and that “these initiatives were warmly received by the advisory groups”. The problem with these claims is that members of these advisory groups tell me that this never happened. Bizarrely, VAC corroborates my sources. In a separate email VAC confirms that “the legislation was not discussed in any of the advisory groups”.

The analysis also notes VAC has a web-based portal “Have Your Say” which allows the broader stakeholder community and all Canadians to share their concerns. However, when one submits a concern, there is no confirmation email and VAC does not publish these comments. Negative feedback can be easily clicked into the recycle bin.

In Orwellian brazenness, the regulatory analysis blithely concludes “given…the absence of major opposition from stakeholders and the general public, it is expected that the regulatory amendments will continue to be well received by CAF members, veterans, families and stakeholder groups.”
Of course veterans deserve far more. Arguably, because veterans are willing to and have sacrificed while in uniform to defend democracy, democracy owes them the most. But who or what will ensure that debt is repaid when politicians and bureaucrats carry on like this?

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

propat

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How quickly we forget who voted and how they voted for the NVC back in 2005 ...

Post by Rubicon on Tue 20 Mar 2018, 17:42

While Sean Bruyea would like to pin the entire blame for the 2005 NVC on the federal Liberals he is omitting one thing. "The New Veterans Charter (NVC)1 was unanimously adopted by both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent on 13 May 2005". For reference see para 1, page v of the Executive Summary link below:

https://sencanada.ca/content/sen/Committee/411/secd/rep/rep09mar13-e.pdf

I also don't remember receiving an "additional lump sum payment" while Stephen Harper and the CONS were in power from 2006 to 2015 but I do remember getting one early in 2017 from the federal Liberals. Until the Liberals select an MVA as "piss poor" as Julian Fantino was, I'm sticking with the Liberal Party since none of the other parties to date are offering me a better deal as a veteran.

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Re: When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

Post by propat on Tue 20 Mar 2018, 19:35

hey rubicon just so ya know as many do here I voted for JT last election and have absolutely NO party favor or affiliation. just wanted to get that out there right from the start . probably not voting for JT again who failed on his promise and is now pushing for a further reduction in vets benefits post april 1st 2019 .

sean is not trying to lay the whole blame for the NVC on the libs . perhaps should have added the unanimous thing but it was really just a mention in passing on the way to the subject at hand the new changes and how they circumvented normal proses to get there .

ive hared him rail against the cons for years starting when they implemented the NVC in 2006 when they had every opportunity to scrap it .

yes the NVC was the libs brainchild . it was voted in unanimously . the cons could have stopped it but implemented it instead .

we all know these facts but this was not the subject of his column at all and the work and well researched material that went into that I think ill forgive him for a small omit ion on a small pass through reference .

JMO

propat

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Re: When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

Post by Rubicon on Tue 20 Mar 2018, 22:36

Fair enough Propat. And I'll also admit to voting Liberal for the first time in my life in the last federal election after voting for 35 years as a Conservative. Old Stephen hung around too long and spoiled it for me so it was time to heave him and his party of sheep IMO. While I'm not in love with Justin, he has put some money where his mouth is. Is it enough? Hell no, but it is money and a move back in the right direction and something no other federal party has done since the NVC was implemented by all parties. I give credit where credit is due. Now, if a certain group of people currently working quietly on Canada's smallest island province this week manage to iron out a pension for life worth talking about; I'll also give credit where credit is due and once again vote accordingly. Here's hoping it isn't a wasted effort in taxpayer money along the lines of the Phoenix Pay System (implemented by the CONS) or a multi-million dollar payout to an enemy combatant (decided by the Liberals). Time for some CBD oil and a good night's sleep ...

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Re: When Will Government Stop Playing Games with Democracy and the Veterans Who Suffer as a Result?

Post by propat on Tue 20 Mar 2018, 22:52

yes buds I get that all right and I sure as heck hope they do get it straight but nothing can go ahead without GOC say so . thing is all that matters to them is the politics . we don't politically matter to them right now so we don't matter at all. this could change come election time as it did last election and then maybe the world will turn our way for a change .

have a good one buds

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