Author Topic: The Hon. Bob Rae, LPC, MP  (Read 2255 times)

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The Hon. Bob Rae, LPC, MP
« on: September 07, 2012, 03:01:53 PM »
September 7, 2012
The Hon. Bob Rae, LPC, MP
Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Dear Mr. Rae,

I am contacting you to ask the Liberal Party of Canada to support the Canadian Veterans Advocacy as we enter a new phase of engagement on behalf of Canada’s wounded warriors.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy recently launched Operation Ardent Dignity, a public awareness campaign that will draw needed attention to the sacrifice of those soldiers who have been wounded physically and mentally in Afghanistan and who will regrettably be released from the Canadian Forces to what is clearly an uncertain future. I describe the release of these soldiers from the Forces as regrettable because, not only are many of them quite capable of continuing to contribute meaningfully to the military, they were led to believe there would be roles for them in the Forces, when the former CDS, General Hillier, made certain promises of support and retention.

As a veteran and as the leader of an active advocacy group, I see the impact of these broken promises on a daily basis. I served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, a regiment that has been seriously impacted by its service in Afghanistan including significant loss of life and serious physical and mental wounds. As Canada entered the combat phase of its mission in Afghanistan, the promises made by General Hillier provided soldiers with hope for the future because they believed their government recognized and respected their sacrifice in Afghanistan. Their hopes were further bolstered by the evolving attitude towards mental health issues, in particular Operational Stress Injuries like PTSD, within the military and within Canadian society as a whole. Now, as with General Hillier’s broken promises, the recent cuts to mental health programs and staff within the Canadian Forces demonstrates the current government’s willingness to neglect its duty to our brave sons and daughters who have served in Harm’s Way.

Operation Ardent Dignity is a direct response to this government’s willingness to break its promises and to the government’s short-sightedness when it comes to caring for soldiers with mental health issues. Operation Ardent Dignity is also in direct response to the government’s insistence on indiscriminately enforcing the Canadian Forces problematic Universality of Service standards on young Afghan veterans – a policy that is not consistently applied to all members of the CF – thus unnecessarily forcing many soldiers to be medically released across this nation.

In a recent letter I encouraged the Prime Minister to uphold the promises made by the former CDS, however it is unlikely that my request for reconsideration will have any impact on the rash of current and upcoming medical releases. In light of this situation, I feel veterans of all eras, along with patriotic Canadians, have a duty to our young wounded soldiers. We must engage the general public on the issues facing veterans and encourage all levels of government to work together to ensure successful social reintegration, access to adequate health care related to military service injuries, appropriate education, vocational training, and employment opportunities, as well as ensuring soldiers and veterans are accorded the highest level of respect, care and compassion.

Operation Ardent Dignity is a two-phase operation and I have included the operational orders with this letter for you and your staff to assess. The Canadian Veterans Advocacy has already disseminated these orders through our extensive social media network. We intend to aggressively promote this campaign in the coming months, increasing our efforts once Parliament resumes in Ottawa, with the strongest push taking place on the ground and in the media in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

First, we will be encouraging federal and provincial parliamentarians to cooperate with local municipal governments to participate in or co-organize Wounded Warriors Task Forces within their communities. To guarantee our message is heard across the country it is my hope that Liberal Party MPs will take the lead in their ridings and assist in uniting local mayors and provincial parliamentarians for Veterans Rallies on November 3, 2012. These projected Rallies will help ensure our wounded, injured, and permanently disabled soldiers, along with their families, will not be released into unsuspecting communities to uncertain futures.

I believe the objectives of Operation Ardent Dignity are very much inline with the statements you made this past spring regarding the need for strong federal leadership and increased federal funding to secure improved housing, better jobs and better treatment for those suffering from mental health problems. As you yourself stated, “this in turn should be used to get the provinces to make sure that the ‘wellness agenda’ takes provincial mental health spending up much closer to ten per cent of health care budgets.” To this end, the Canadian Veterans Advocacy has established a relationship with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Mental Health Association. We have invited both organizations to participate in phase two of Operation Ardent Dignity, the Vigil for the Wounded on Parliament Hill on November 10, 2012. It is my hope that each organization will send a representative to address physical and mental health issues. Naturally, I also extend an invitation to you and all Liberal MPs to speak to your party’s commitment to Canada’s wounded warriors. Certainly this would provide the Liberal Party with a valuable opportunity to clearly state its position on these issues and to clarify for Canada’s serving members and veterans the direction you envision for the future.

The Vigil for the Wounded on Parliament Hill on November 10 will also help focus national attention on the incredible sacrifices made by our soldiers and veterans and the serious issues facing these brave men and women, such as the shortcomings of the New Veterans Charter, the discriminatory and inadequate Lump Sum Disability Award and the paltry compensation for military families who have paid the ultimate price in order that Canada could maintain its commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

I, along with the veterans for whom I advocate, are fully aware that the New Veterans Charter was developed under Liberal leadership and was conceived by your party as a living document. Although our objectives are non-partisan, we believe that the current government has lost sight of the “living” aspect of the Charter, and with the exception of the very limited changes made to it under Bill C-55, we are extremely disappointed that the Charter has not evolved in the way the Liberals and the NDP may have hoped it would when it was originally passed into law. I hope you will accept our invitation to speak at the Vigil on November 10 to reinforce the Liberal Party’s support for veterans and to publically acknowledge the shortcomings of the current state of the New Veterans Charter. Your participation at our Vigil will demonstrate that the Liberal Party is a party of action, unafraid to face the serious issues that have arisen for veterans since the implementation of the Charter. Your participation will also demonstrate that the Liberal Party is not afraid to stand behind the promises made to Canadian soldiers. I can assure you that Liberal Party participation in Operation Ardent Dignity, at local rallies on November 3 and at the Vigil for the Wounded on Parliament Hill on November 10, will benefit the party’s reputation within Canadian military and veterans communities.

In closing, I would like to thank you again for your continued support and the support of Mr. Sean Casey and the other members of your caucus who joined us at our recent D-Day Vigil for Veterans on June 6. Your commitment to our cause has made a difference and for this we are grateful.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Michael L. Blais, CD
Founder & President
Canadian Veterans Advocacy - One Veteran One Standard

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