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The Ministerial Revolving Door
By Perry Grey, Chief Editor
VVi 07 Mar 2019 pe
“A department that's seen
seven ministers since 2010 could use some continuity” CBC News 15
Prime Minister Trudeau is
continuing the tradition of replacing ministers rather quickly much
like his predecessor Stephen Harper. This is a comparison that the
prime minister would not like. Both picked people who not only
angered Veterans, but also embarrassed the government.
The first choice in 2015 was
Kent Hehr, who seemed like a good choice in that he was physically
disabled. This fit in nicely with the social justice warrior
philosophy that the prime minister seemed to embrace. Kent seemed
very sociable and liked to have “selfies” with Veterans. How much
progress he made in completing his mandate letter is questionable
because the most important issue, reinstatement of lifelong pensions
was rarely if ever discussed.
Kent committed the greatest sin apparently when it was allegations
of sexual harassment surfaced. This led to his swift dismissal and
exile to the back bench. He was also accused of a number of other
lesser crimes such as insensitive comments about thalidomide
survivors, condescending remarks to Veterans and using his position
to help his father’s school board campaign using government
The second choice was a
personal friend of the prime minister, Seamus O’Regan, who also
seemed a good choice as the brother of a Veteran. He spent a lot
more time employing his media skills in making countless marketing
pitches to sell the pension for life, in an apparent attempt to
appear to be achieving the most important objective in the prime
minister’s mandate letter, reinstating the lifelong pension, which
was also a personal campaign promise made by Trudeau directly to
He also spent a lot of time
also discussing his own issues with the media. This included his
“career transition” from television work, a transition he found very
traumatic and resulted in depression and aggravated his alcoholism.
Unfortunately, he sinned by equating his silver spoon transition to
the often life and death struggles of veterans in their own personal
battles to find meaning after the leaving the intense demands and
sacrifices of military service. This made the inappropriate comments
of former Conservatine minister, Julian, Fantino seem almost
unimportant when he compared his police service to being similar to
that of serving in the military.
Seamus compounded his mistakes
by then engaging in a war of words with Veterans, specifically Sean
Bruyea, with regards to the soon-to-be enacted Pension for Life. .
Contrary to the advice of the experts in Veterans Affairs who
informed O’Regan’s staff on numerous occasions that Sean Bruyea’s
assessment of the Pension for Life was mostly or completely
accurate, O’Regan ignored that advice and accused Sean of “stating
mistruthd” and writing to suit his “own agenda”. The legal case
arising from this conflict has yet to be resolved so will follow
Seamus to his next job of “serving” indigenous peoples.
The recent appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould is a very curious
choice as she was the Minister of Justice, who was responsible for
“fighting with Veterans in the courts” (including the use of a
senior lawyer to represent Seamus against Sean Bruyea in small
claims court where lawyers very rarely work). Engaging in legal
actions was something that the prime minister said that he would not
do during the last election.
So why would he blatantly
insult Veterans by appointing Jody?
“She’s smart and competent but
she doesn’t exude empathy,” said one colleague. “It’s an odd pick
for veterans affairs.” (National Post 14 January 2019)
Her fist speech as MVA suggests that the appointment was
“she said she could think of
“no world in which I would consider working for our veterans in
Canada as a demotion.”
But is it not
promotion/demotion based on how cabinet positions are ranked? So now
Veterans are getting another “failed social experiment”, who may
have already sinned grievously in the mind of the prime minister.
Ms Wilson-Raybould lasted only
a few weeks with her only significant contribution being the
promotion of Valentines for Veterans, an annual event aimed at
thanking Veterans for their service. She will be remembered more for
her quick exit and forcing another cabinet shuffle…and of course
expanding the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
The newest minister, Lawrence
MacAulay, is both a veteran politician and familiar with the
Veterans portfolio having served as Secretary of State (Veterans)
under Prime Minister Chretien in the 1990’s. Of interest, he is from
PEI, which is also home to Veterans Affairs head office..
He does share one thing in
common with his predecessor. Both Wilson-Raybould and MacAuley
denied that Veterans Affairs was a demotion. In his first speech,
the new minister stated:
"To have the honour to
represent the people who preserve peace and democracy for us
worldwide; that is a long place from a demotion."
But why even use that word?
veteran politicians such as MacAuley, know that choice of words is
very important. Your listeners or readers can misinterpret your
ideas and this is more likely if your words accentuate ambiguity.
If one should never shout
“fire” in a crowded theatre, then politicians should not mention
promotion or demotion with regards to cabinet appointments.
Right now, there are a lot of
angry Veterans, who believe that the federal government does not
care about them because of ministers and mistakes since the last
election. The Pension for Life, and the political and legal crisis
over a $165-million accounting error affecting more than a quarter
of a million veterans who collected the pre-2006 Pension Act
disability pension, are just two potential hotspots that could
ignite veteran ire when they will be inevitably mishandled.
Over 272,000 veterans, most of
them elderly, were affected by the indexing mistake and more than
half of them — about 170,000 — have died. (CBC News 2 March 2019)
Minister MacAuley will have a
lot to do if he wants Veterans to vote in the next election…seven
months or less Unless he is moved in the next cabinet shuffle, which
must now follow the resignation of Jane Philpott on 4 March 2019.
All four ministers appeared to
be good candidates only as far as the optics of appointing
“politically correct” people rather than the best choice to fill a
ministerial position. It seems to Canadians that having a balance of
gender, ethnicity, regionalism, etc. is far more important than
specific personal qualifications. So it is rather ironic when the
prime minister talks about the depth of his caucus, he does not mean
This seems like the prime
minister wants to hand his opponents more votes in my opinion.
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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