3 min

Veterans watchdog on the offensive

At a press conference yesterday, the outgoing Veterans Ombudsman let out a blistering attack on the government and the bureaucracy over their treatment of veterans – including being told by one official that it was better for the government that soldiers die on the battlefield than come home wounded because of the liability cost. And since he’s only got three months before they show him the door (as they’re not reappointing him to another term), he has no fear in raising hell, and drawing attention to the fact that the department now only has a part-time minister, and the offices are all the way out in PEI, where the national media can’t keep an eye on them. And while it’s good that we’ve got someone raising a bit of hell, and reminders that this government doesn’t treat outspoken watchdogs kindly, we must remember that it remains Parliament’s responsibility to deal with the government in question and to hold them to account.

The official media arm of The Party and the government’s apologists are both running editorials about how awful those Tamil migrants are – although the National Post editorial seems to have missed the whole passage of Bill C-11 when it comes to reforming the refugee system (although it’ll take nearly two years to implement). Harper himself took a crack at upping the rhetoric on human trafficking and talking about all the laws they’d have to strengthen – except there’s already a Conservative private members’ bill on human trafficking now before the Senate, and they’ve already reformed the refugee system, which makes this all really a bunch of noise designed to draw attention away from the census issue.

The government has ousted the head of the Canadian Firearms Program, ostensibly for nine months of French training. But one has to ask – and people are – whether this has anything to do with the fact that the Conservatives’ private members’ bill on scrapping the gun registry is coming up for a vote in September, and he’s one of the biggest boosters for the registry. Coincidence? Perhaps, or perhaps not.

Former national security advisor Margaret Bloodworth says she has concerns about Justice Major’s report about creating a stronger role for the security advisor’s office as arbiter of the information CSIS and the RCMP protects. Bloodworth says that because the role is unelected, it weakens ministerial accountability.

The Chalk River reactor is finally back up and running, well over a year after the government promised it was only going to be down for three months tops! And the government still has no plan for how to replace our supply of isotopes when the reactor is scheduled to be shut down in 2016.

Conservative MP Inky Mark has resigned his seat to run for mayor in Dauphin, Manitoba. He’d previously said he wasn’t going to run again, but it looks like he’s hastened his departure. There are now a couple of by-elections that Harper hasn’t called, but for all we know, he’s still planning on calling an autumn election, so he’s holding off on calling the by-elections until then.

And finally, from the “I get mail” file, I have two separate mailings from my local MP that arrived yesterday. The first, printed on cardstock, calls for the Pretoria Bridge in Ottawa to be renamed after Nelson Mandela. As per Paul Dewar’s usual mailings, one is only given a “Yes/Oui Paul! I support naming Pretoria Bridge after Nelson Mandela” option for reply. Because there is apparently only one answer. The other mailing was the Summer 2010 “Working for you” booklet, which talks about a summit being held by the Ottawa Riverkeeper, a page on how Dewar has joined the campaign to make dental care available to all Canadians under the age of 18, Dewar’s raising concerns with the NCC, and a call for better labelling of sodium.  On the final page, Dewar asks constituents for three suggestions on how to bring Sparks St back to life – because no MP mailing is complete without an attempt at data mining.