In their own words: 6 veterans trash the Conservatives

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and Prime Minister Stephen Harper stuck to their guns on Friday and shut down nine veterans affairs offices in smaller cities across the country.

Fantino began the week by skipping a scheduled meeting with a group of men who had served in the military as far back as the 1950s and had travelled to Ottawa to plead their case to keep the offices open.

He ended it by attacking  the protesting veterans, saying they were simply pawns of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"The veterans were used by the union. They were duped," said Fantino.

Harper, meanwhile, dismissed the concerns of the vets. Facing repeated questions from the Opposition in the House of Commons, Harper said the offices served "very few people, had very few visits."

Now that the dust has settled, here's a roundup of how veterans are feeling about the Conservative government after an extraordinary week:


Rob Cutbush, a Navy veteran who took a day off work on Friday to speak at the protest in Thunder Bay, on Fantino's attack.

What right does he have to tell me, as a Canadian citizen who defended democracy for 25 years, who I can talk to, speak to or associate with?

Roy Lamore, whose service dates back to the 1940s.

It makes no sense to take these services away from men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country.

Phil Etter, who served in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

They said we'd be looked after. They have broken faith. The amount they're saying they're saving is miniscule compared to the millions they're wasting on meaningless advertising.

Alfie Burt, a veteran taking part in a sit-in protest at the Sydney office, on Fantino's treatment of the vets throughout the week.

What the frig is wrong with that guy?

Melbourne Birmingham, who served as a civilian police officer in Kosovo beginning in 2000, on Harper's assertion that the offices weren't busy, so closing them wouldn't be a big deal.

Who does he think he's fooling? He's got an agenda to try and save money on the backs of veterans. He's been doing this for years and there's no need of it. It's just hogwash.... What a slap in the face. It's a Canadian disgrace and this Harper government is causing it.

Ron Clarke, who joined the military in 1956 and retired in 1992.

It was a hard fight and that's all it was, was a fight. It's not the end of the war.

 Photo: YouTube


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CFIB wins LOL award for griping about temporary foreign worker "red tape"

A business lobby group on Friday awarded the federal government's embattled Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) with its Paperweight Award for "ridiculous rules and red tape."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, representing small- and medium-size businesses, says the TFWP is "maddening at the best of times." And now, the government "has added new requirements, fees and longer wait times."

Let's put CFIB's breathtaking position in context: even Stephen Harper acknowledges businesses have been "abusing" the program and harming Canadian workers "only for the sake of the bottom line profit." 

Set aside Harper's hypocrisy and forget all the ways his own government facilitated the rapid growth -- and abuse -- of the program since coming to power in 2006. The result? The sales and services McJobs sector now employs more migrant workers than any other in Canada.

Now, we have a business group attacking baby steps to curb the abuse as "red tape." 

Harper's government used to allow employers to pay 15% less to all workers doing the "'high-skilled' job for which temporary work permits were sought, and 5% less for 'low-skill' jobs." And until 2013, the application process was free, translating into a $35 million public subsidy for employers.

Advertising rules have changed, too. Employers could post jobs in Canada for as little as six days before looking for TFWs, down from six weeks. The rule is now 14 days. 

"These changes were a knee-jerk reaction to media stories of misuse of the program by a few big businesses and banks, but threaten to drive some small enterprises, that rely on the program and are using it appropriately, out of business," CFIB said Friday.


Photo: julia_manzerovaUsed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence. 

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Howler alert: Harper government has "the highest ethical standard of all time"

Forget about the ongoing RCMP investigation into the Senate spending scandal and a cover-up in the Prime Minister's Office.

And don't think about all those times that Elections Canada caught Conservatives overspending during election campaigns. And definitely don't get stuck on Elections Canada's ongoing voter suppression investigation involving Conservative Party operatives.

And about those fundraisers by cabinet ministers raising conflict of interest questions? Forget about that.

Now watch this week's howler from Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra, Stephen Harper's point man in the House of Commons tapped to answer questions about all these ongoing scandals and ethical lapses.


Photo: pmwebphotos. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence. 

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