The New Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has come under fire for some of the comments he made during the Bill Good Show. To say that some of the responses have been emotional, would be understating it. A veteran who was under severe stress from his dealings with Veterans Affairs Canada wrote the Minister referring to him as Gestapo.
The Minister, who was born in Italy during the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini and the reign of Adolf Hitler was offended and demanded an apology from the veteran. His response was to be expected.
Robin Brentnall, a long time friend of mine and member of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, wrote an e-mail, which reflects the sentiment of most veterans and merits a reprint. Here is a repost of Robin’s comments to the Minister:
It was with interest that I read the comments and replies between you both and I agree with both on their own merit.
Mr. Manuge has been put through much stress and anxiety since his battle began and recently, was added to the Conservative Party of Canada’s “Enemy List” along with other advocating veterans Sean Bruyea and Pat Stogran. Mr. Manuge’s response could be understood by anyone put into his position and the long battle he has had with Veterans Affairs, the SISIP Class Action Lawsuit, and indeed the Conservative Party over the past 7 years. To have to fight that long and be listed as an “Enemy” and have his personal privacy and “Papers” violated by the government, one can easily understand the use of the word “Gestapo”, secret police who used stealth and cunning to pry into the lives of ‘enemies of the state’ during what Minister Fantino called “horrendous times”.
Minister Fantino makes a good point by stating that he wants to work with our veterans and indeed, by the acknowledgement of Mr. Manuge’s letter, he has continued to engage veterans when asked questions and has provided answers, even if they were not what veterans wanted to hear. That is much better than the other Minister’s of Veterans Affairs have done and I thank you for that.
I believe apologies would be demanded if it were an arguement between two little boys. But this debate is between two men who have served Canada, albeit in different aspects of service, one able to stand back and request backup in life threatening situations, and one who could be ordered to “clear that trench” and if he asked for backup or refused, could be court martialled and shot for cowardice.
There is a difference in service when one is in the Military. Many leave when they realize that the ultimate sacrifice is not what they joined for. But those who stay and get injured, expect that their country will stand behind them in their hour of need.
Veterans in Canada have been in a ‘hour of need’ since the New Veterans Charter came into being. Will our government stand behind us or do we call for backup from the courts? Unfortunately, a second class action lawsuit is in the making right now.
As Minister of Veterans Affairs, we ask you to back us up Julian. Then you will be considered ‘One of the troops’. Fight us and list us as enemies and degrade us, you will be given colourful names such as the one Mr. Manuage used. Veterans don’t want to be fighting in ‘horrendous times’ that were used during the 1930′s by the likes of Joseph Goebbils and the “Ministry of Propaganda”. We want a government that stands up for veterans.
Robin Brentnall, CD
The demands of Canadian veterans are simple. They want to see a fair and open review of the New Veterans Charter, which addresses the lump sum payment. No one is interested in a political circus, either during Question Period or during the committee hearings.
Veterans want the sacred trust restored in the New Veterans Charter and not have our service diminished by depicting it as just another welfare program. The t composition of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) requires review and members should include at least one veteran.
Front line services, such as Veterans Affairs office closures must be reviewed, Veterans should not be required to travel for seven hours to access services. Veterans stand united and want to see a government and Minister engaged in assisting them, rather than fighting them. This should not be too much to ask.