Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lies and Broken Promises, the series, Part V&VI - widows of veterans

In 2005, before Steve became king and it was important to him that he win the goodwill of the electorate, he wrote a letter to Joyce Carter, widow of a war veteran (emphasis mine throughout):

"A Conservative government would immediately extend the Veterans Independence Program services to the widows of all Second World War and Korean War veterans, regardless of when they passed away or how long they had been receiving the benefit prior to passing away."

After three years of letter writing and waiting, Mrs. Carter did not get any response from the New King and decided to visit him at court. It was not an easy journey for the elderly subject.

Mrs. Carter was afraid of flying and had not been on a plane for six years, yet she went to the airport in Sydney to fly east. Unfortunately, she was fogged in at the airport so another stalled passenger gave her a ride to Halifax.
Stopping at a Tim Hortons on the way, Mrs. Carter fell over a curb and badly bruised her hands, elbows and leg. Finally making it to Ottawa, Mrs. Carter found she was unable to meet the prime minister so she decided to stay one more day.

Well, kings do get busy, and they must give their precious kingly time to, well, people who can forward their ambitions to Emperor, at the very least.

Mrs. Carter didn’t give up, though. After all, the King had made a promise, in writing, to her, and he was going to damn well see her. She discovered that you can still get an audience with an ambitious publicly shaming him before his public.

The next day, despite limping from her injury, she managed to catch Stephen Harper while he was on his way to question period at the House of Commons under the gaze of several television cameras.

Mrs. Carter walked up to the prime minister and said, "Mr. Harper you promised me you'd look after our veteran's widows. Why have you lied?"
Visibly caught off guard, Harper walked off" and sent an aide to organize a meeting later in the day.

In the meeting, the prime minister reportedly apologized to Mrs. Carter and said that the Veterans Independence Program would be extended to all widows of Second World War and Korean veterans in his next budget--expected next spring.

More time has passed, and it seems the king has become no more empathic to his vulnerable subjects.

The 2008 Budget announced...goes part of the way to meet Ms. Carter's demands. The money announced in the budget will not give every surviving spouse of a veteran access to the program. But it will now be available to all of those who are in financial need or who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.

“I can't see why he can't give it to them all,” Ms. Carter said of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It shouldn't matter really what incomes they were getting. They were promised this and they should be receiving it. I think it's very unfair.”

Joyce Carter, although she is receiving her benefits, being full of the sort of empathy and sense of honour lacking in Steve the Almighty continues to demand the well-fed ruler keep his promise.

Here, in part, is a letter by Ms. Carter published in The Hill Times on Novermber 10, 2008. Just before Rememberance Day.

In February 2006, Mr. Harper was honoured and privileged to serve his country when he became Prime Minister of Canada. So what happened to the promise he made to all veterans’ widows, which he had promised would happen immediately? He did not keep it.

Speaking with the Prime Minister on June 13, 2007, I was told that the VIP would be granted in the next budget.

For two long years, the Conservatives have boasted that the promises they made were kept and that they got the job done. Did the PM keep his promise in the 2008 budget? No, he did not. In the 2008 budget, the VIP was granted to only 30 per cent of the veterans’ widows.

A veteran’s widow is a veteran’s widow. Where are the morals of the Conservative government? To deny the VIP to any one of those widows, let alone 70 per cent of them, is a moral injustice.

Veterans widows can not, and must not be ignored or disregarded by government. On Oct. 14, 2008, the Conservatives were re-elected for a second time. On their return to Parliament, I ask on behalf of all veterans widows “Is the government going to finally right a wrong and keep the promise that was made to us all on June 28, 2005?”

Until the PM’s promise is kept and 100 per cent of the veterans’ widows are granted the VIP, the Conservatives cannot say they have kept their commitments.
And with 70 per cent still waiting, their job is far from finished.

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