Opinion Column

Trudeau's heart a few sizes too small

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

How does one look a veteran – one who lost their leg while serving in Afghanistan – in the eye and tell them they’re asking for too much money?

Ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

For all the times he’s been lauded for championing and being sensitive to social issues by various media outlets around the world, he looked a bit like the Grinch – someone whose heart was two sizes too small – during a town hall in Edmonton last week when a wounded veteran accused him of breaking election promises.

In 2015, Trudeau promised to never force veterans into court for support and compensation they earned and a return to lifetime pensions for those injured. However, despite taking power, his government still fights a lawsuit against six injured veterans who want the old pensions to be reinstated.

Brock Blaszczyk, who was a corporal in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), stood with his prosthetic leg and medals in plain view of Trudeau to ask why.

Trudeau’s response? Veterans are “asking for more than we’re able to give right now.”

He was booed by the crowd, and rightly so. He’s said a lot of stupid things, but this was by far the worst, because not only was it short-sighted, it was heartless and that wasn’t lost Blasczyk.

In an interview afterwards, he called Trudeau’s response disappointing.

“He said we were asking too much, but, from the personal side of things, I felt like saying: ‘what did you ask from me?’” he said.

I kind of wish he had. We ask our veterans to fight for not only our rights and freedoms, but for the rights and freedoms of others. We ask them to put their lives on the line for our country so we can continue to live peaceful lives. They go into battles knowing they could pay the ultimate price for our and do so voluntarily, but Trudeau can’t give them what he promised?

They’re asking for more than we can give them, yet it was the Liberal government who paid convicted terrorist Omar Khadr, now a student (and apparent rockstar) at Red Deer College, $10,500,000. Sure, fighting Khadr in court may have cost substantially more, but he set a precedent that saw others come forward asking for similar compensation – nevermind the fact that no one takes the charter of rights and freedoms with them when they leave the country.

He’s willing to rehabilitate ISIS soldiers, reintegrate them back into Canadian society because their voice is “valuable.” I would venture that this would be through programs and other initiatives that would cost money in some way, but can’t put that money towards the veterans that fought against ISIS?

I know I’ve called Trudeau out of touch before, but this really takes the cake.

I get the situation with veterans is complicated. I understand it was the Conservatives who first took the veterans to court over this, and I’m certainly not going to make excuses for them. However, taking care of our veterans should not be turned into some ploy to gain votes.

Veterans are not G.I.Joes to be played with. Their appendages can’t be clicked back on or replaced when severed from their bodies. They do care when they’re promised compensation and a lifetime pension and then are told instead that they’re asking for too much money, when they really just want what was promised to them.

Something went amiss – either Trudeau decided his heart was only big enough to care about ex-ISIS soldiers and convicted terrorists, or he didn’t care that he might be unable to fill promises he made and therefore lied to veterans and Canadians during the election to gain power and not to truly make a difference.

As Conservative MP Erin O’Tolle tweeted: “The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you’re not worth the truth.”

If our veterans aren’t worth the truth, we have a serious problem.

 



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