Letter to the editor in response to MP David Wilks letter

Harper has put young Canadians in harm's way in Afghanistan.

In March 2003, Stephen Harper wrote a servile letter to the Wall Street Journal apologizing to the Americans because the Chrétien government had refused to put Canadian troops in harm’s way in Iraq.

Since then, Harper has put young Canadians in harm’s way in Afghanistan: Ground Zero for the 158 who died there, and has offered very little support for those who came home, bearing psychological and physical scars from Kandahar and the Panjwai Valley.

When Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks was reminded of this in Wayne Stetski’s letter concerning the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), (The Free Press, Jan. 22), he responded (The Free Press, Jan. 29), but unfortunately avoided any mention of the following in his letter: That the DVA underspent its budget (2006-2013), returning $1.13 billion to the treasury – this $1.13 billion is what remained of the $5 billion, all of which Mr. Wilks falsely claimed in his letter was invested in the DVA. That in 2011-12, DVA managers were paid $343,000 in bonuses to cut services for veterans and have spent, to date, $694,000 in fighting veterans’ compensation claims in court.

That in 2012 the Harper government spent $28 million to celebrate the bicentennial of the burning of Washington, although there may be few, if any, veterans surviving from the War of 1812.

That further cuts of $132 million to the DVA budget are scheduled for 2016.

Our veterans’ sacrifices, however, have not been in vain. Their most recent military engagements have propelled our prime minister onto the world’s political stage where he struts and swaggers up there with the big boys. And it may be that veterans, some even from their wheelchairs, will be grateful that Mr. Harper has allowed their financial sacrifices to help balance his next budget. Somehow though, I doubt it.

JC Vallance,

Fernie, B.C.