Since the Federal Election was held a number months ago we have been treated to the spectacle of rampant pseudo patriotism. You must remember the vision of the Lobby of the House of Commons being festooned with miniature Canadian flags and the sight of Conservative Members of Parliament rallying behind the cry of, ‘Let’s protect the flag Boys!”
Just a brief time before that episode was the announcement that the government was over-turning the decision made in the 1960’s to eliminate the title “Royal” from the three armed services. This is now to be replaced because the prefix “Royal” is “an important and recognizable part of Canada’s military heritage.” The title also held a position of importance when the postal service was called the “Royal Mail”, however, it seems the Conservatives do not want to dignify the connexion between a traditionally vital public service rendered by the government and the mail service that is presently offered by Canada Post. Apparently history has no cachet when applied to a primary public services like the mail.
Now I am as patriotic as the next citizen of Canada, but I care less for symbols that come and go at the whim of politicians, than I do about how we treat individuals who represent our nation and the interests of our country. I am speaking about those persons who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces and who are essentially going to be punished by the Conservative Government’s proposed budgetary cutbacks.
The approximately 225 million dollars that will be cut over the next two years and the 500 staff positions that will be eliminated under the cuts will only make the benefits that are supposedly there for veterans harder to access. It wasn’t enough that the federal government significantly cut pension benefits to veterans a few years ago moving them from a regular monthly pension payout to a lump sum settlement which negatively altered their standard of living in retirement, now they are being forced to see a further decline in services.
The moral of this story is: think twice before putting your life and the welfare of your family on the line, you may well find that diminishing governmental support will make your public sacrifice seem irrelevant. Surely those who serve in the Armed Forces and are sent by governments into dangerous, life-threatening situations, should receive not only the respect of the people of Canada but tangible and unwavering support in recognition of the commitment they have made to the nation.
I am outraged by a government that claims to be patriotic but chooses to punish those who follow orders, take risks and sometimes pay a very high price for their commitment. The proof of patriotism has never been in words, it has always been shown in acts. The present government would be well advised to review their cuts to Veteran’s Affairs lest they find, to their detriment, that the citizens of Canada are unmoved by vain postures and fed up with irrelevant pronouncements.