I am livid. I mean it. I’m disgusted and angry. Not the first time I felt this way about the Harper government but this is a whole new level of outrage. I’m talking about Julian Fantino and his so called meeting with veterans yesterday. One man broke down while talking about it. These men who served their country and only asked for time and an open mind from the man who is supposed to be responsible for the affairs of veterans. Instead, the veterans waited and waited for their meeting, only to be told that the minister couldn’t meet with them. Three other people were sent to meet with the veterans. But Fantino managed to show up just in time for a meeting with the press. And when things got heated, what did Fantino do? He walked out of the meeting.
Walked out of the meeting! Walked out of the meeting! After saying to a veteran, “that finger pointing doesn’t work very well for me.” These people stood and faced enemy fire and bombs and IEDs, kept peace in the middle of horrendous situations, fought and killed and watched their friends die and did not walk away. But Fantino can’t handle someone across the room who points his finger at him?!?!?!
Then, after this shameful treatment of our veterans, Fantino’s office released a statement and said, I swear to God, “One of the most important parts of the job is to meet with veterans and hear their concerns firsthand.”
Besides the ridiculous way Fantino behaved, he still insists that the Veterans Affairs offices scheduled to be closed will be closed. To replace the offices, he says that veterans can go to one of over 600 Service Canada offices. Or use the Internet to access services. Seriously? Service Canada offices deal with a huge list of things from senior’s issues to employment issues to universal child tax benefits and so many other things. See a list here of what the corner brook office, where one of the Veteran’s Affairs offices are to close, already has on their plate.
Fantino said that veterans who need it will still get home visits. But Alban LeClair,a Royal Canadian Legion volunteer said, “I can tell you now, that before they started shutting down Charlottetown district office, a veteran could get a home visit within a couple of days. Now it takes up to six weeks to contact the veteran. And six weeks is a long time for a 93-year-old veteran, and even young veterans suffering with PTSD.” And at a time when so many veterans are suffering with PTSD and committing suicide, this is not something we want to skimp on. We, and our government have to provide the services they need as quickly as possible.
So, I’m pointing my digital finger at you, Minister Fantino (you’ll have to use your imagination and guess which one). And more besides. This is not a political blog. I’ve expressed political opinions before but today I am asking anyone who reads this and is outraged like I am, to look below for your MP’s phone number or email address and contact him or her. Demand better for your veterans and tell your representatives, if you feel the same way I do, that you want to see the resignation of Julian Fantino as Minister of Veteran Affairs. They should put someone in charge of that department who has compassion and caring for veterans, if there is such a thing in the Conservative caucus. Here is a list of members of Parliament. You can click on a picture for their contact information. If you don’t know who your MP is, you can search here by your postal code.
I implore you to speak out if you are disgusted by the treatment of our veterans. We owe them so much and they ask for so little. I leave you with the brilliant words of Rick Mercer, who spoke out when the Veterans Affairs offices were first slated to close.