The federal minority Conservative government’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Veterans’ Ombudsman – retired Colonel Pat Stogran – ranks as a classic example of shooting the messenger.
Throughout his three-year term as the defender of those Canadians who have fought for “our way of life,” Stogram has been a staunch advocate for those who have given, if not life, a mental or physical limb in the admirable belief that they were fighting to preserve the common heritage of all Canadians.
The problem was that Stogran’s commitment to the veterans he served was stronger than his commitment to the government under which he served. He had become an embarrassment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Canada’s military leadership and the entire Conservative government.
Here was a Conservative government that was supposedly strong on national defence – after all, didn’t it just commit Canadians to buying over $60 billion worth of new military hardware? – repeatedly exposed for abandoning those who had become mentally and/or physically disabled in the service of their country.
The whole tawdry affair, however, should come as no surprise to Canadians who are in touch with reality.
The Conservative Harper government – and the Liberal Paul Martin and Jean Chretien governments before it – was simply completing the capitalist-ization of Canada’s armed forces.
No, they are not expected to suddenly start turning a profit. But they are expected to operate their various branches as a business in other ways, i.e. in the way they treat their employees killed or injured in the performance of their jobs.
It is highly doubtful that Canada would treat disabled generals and admirals – the corporate executives of the armed forces – the way they treat enlisted troops and low-level officers. After all, the generals and admirals – like the corporate executives – are not expected to risk life and limb. That is reserved for the rank-and-file, the lower classes. And they are expendable.
But whose “way of life” is this human cannon fodder protecting anyway? Who is this “our” that always precedes the “way of life” that the military is supposed to defend?
Surely it’s not the way of life of the 300,000 Canadians who are homeless. Surely it’s not the way of life of the three million unemployed or underemployed Canadians. Surely it’s not the way of life of the six million Canandians who depend on food banks to make it through the month. And surely it’s not the way of life of the one-third of Canadian families who can’t afford to enrol their kids in organized sports.
If it’s not any of their “ways of life” that are being protected, then whose are they? I mean it’s not like the poor want to preserve their poverty, the homeless want to preserve their homelessness, the hungry want to preserve their hunger, and the cash-crunched families want to deny their children the chance to participate in sports.
No, the “way of life” that Canada’s armed forces are defending in Afghanistan is the “way of life” of Canada’s corporate capitalist billionaires and mega-millionaires.
Yes, boys and girls, it’s really all about keeping the world safe for its billionaires and mega-millionaires and the corporations that are making them even richer by the day.
They’re the ones – the capitalist corporations and the billionaires and mega-millionaires who control them – who should be picking for Canada’s armed forces and its disabled veterans.
Instead of seeking to simply disown and discard these vets once they can no longer carry out their military missions – like they do with corporate employees who become disabled on the job – Canada’s corporations and its billionaires and mega-millionaires should be on their collective knees in gratitude for the financial “freedom” they enjoy.