After repeatedly attacking veterans & service members, Stephen Harper prepares for D-Day anniversary photo op.

Two years ago, facing a dip in the polls, Stephen Harper pulled some strings to get himself invited to the 68th anniversary of D-Day. This year, for the 70th anniversary, he is going again. This year it is not so much a 'dip' in the polls as a prolonged nationwide downturn in the Conservative Party's fortunes.

As a conservative, Harper is sort-of automatically assumed to be pro-military. He, no doubt, hopes that the D-Day reminder will inspire patriotism and boost his numbers.

The problem is that most of the country knows more about how Harper deals with the military than we did two years ago. Stephen Harper seems to 'support the troops' in the same way that most politicians do: He hopes that when they engage in combat they win and achieve the military/political goals that he has laid out for them and that is about where his support ends.

Recently there was a great deal of controversy when Julian Fantino was 70 minutes late for a meeting to discuss proposed cuts to Veterans Affairs but this is just the latest incident in a history that shows little respect for military personnel or veterans by the Harper Government.

In recent years the government has;

I will be the first to admit that I am not usually pro-war and I frequently get yellow 'Support the Troops' ribbons shoved in my face because of it. The difference between me and the yellow ribbon people is that while they only seem to support the troops while they are engaged in active combat, that active combat is the part that I have trouble with.

I support the troops in that I support adequately equipping and training them. I believe we should use them sparingly and only when and where it will do some real good. (This means primarily in a humanitarian and peace-keeping role.) I believe that we need to support the troops families while they are away, and in cases where they don't come back we owe support to those families for the foreseeable future.

I believe in supporting the troops when they come home. I believe that we owe them proper medical and psychological care when they return. I believe that we owe them money and, where necessary, training while they transition from military to civilian roles. I believe that we owe them long term support when they cannot take on a civilian job, that we owe them ongoing care for physical or psychological problems and I believe that we owe them pensions and other lifetime benefits.

I don't believe that any veteran should ever be allowed to become homeless or live in poverty. (I don't believe that any person should be allowed to live in poverty but that's a different rant.)

That is what 'supporting the troops' means to me and is part of the reason I support active combat only very reluctantly and in very special circumstances. The yellow ribbons are cute but, like Harper's D-Day remembrance, largely meaningless.

Next Post »