A breach of any citizen’s privacy is a blight against all Canadians, not only vets

Why has it become the fashion to make our vets victims instead of honored members of our society?   

Wounded soldier
Sapper Jason Freeman lies injured on the ground after struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on July 20, 2010.

Some of the news media are acting the way the fourth estate was designed to perform protecting Canada’s Charter of Human Rights for all citizens including our military, but not the national Toronto Star. I am enraged to find a newsfeed item by the Canadian Press’ Murray Brewster entitled “Private files of veteran abused by bureacrats” buried on the September 22, 2010 issue on page A24 of the front section of The Toronto Star.    

At least Toronto Star columnist Rosie Dimanno has spoken up for her buddies still on the front lines as well as those at home. She speaks out here: “Limbs lost, bodies gouged by shrapnel, minds and spirit concussed by post-traumatic stress disorder: These are only some of the consequences from Canada’s eight-year military deployment to a country we will leave next summer only marginally better off than when our troops arrived.”   

She goes on to explain injured vets’ frustration with Veterans Affairs (VA) and the New Veterans’ Charter: “A sliding scale of injury impact is measured by five percent increments and, as veterans have discovered, bureaucrats will push back hard on the medical documentation, demanding an excessively high standard of proof that a disability is service-linked.”   

Rosie adds: “This makes mendicants out of proud soldiers at a time when they are struggling to recognize their own severely altered, even unrecognizable, bodies. Most also have little capacity for managing the paper chase demands imposed on them by institutional rigidity, required to file multiple appeals to access funds from programs, the reasons for rejection mystifying.”   

Now add this frustration to a wounded soldier discovering his private medical records have been breached to arm Ottawa bureaucrats with means to embarrass and silence him from speaking out about homecoming vets’ needs to re-address their costs of injuries and disabilities, both physical and mental.   

The Globe and Mail carries the alarming story yesterday–September 21, 2010: “Highly personal information about Sean Bruyea was contained in a 13-page briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in 2006 for then-minister Greg Thompson, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.”   

The Globe and Mail further reports: “The privacy documents show 614 people within Veterans Affairs accessed Mr. Bruyea’s computer file between 2001 and 2010, records that are kept in a password-protected computer database. Of those, 156 exchanged varying amounts of personal information, according to a trail of internal e-mails.   

“The material appears to have been shared with an additional 243 individuals, including both Liberal and Conservative political staffers, through briefing notes and e-mails during the 2006 transition between governments.   

“The document path even went as high as the Prime Minister’s Office when, on March 21, 2006, a mid-level staffer called Mr. Bruyea and urged to him call off a news conference slated for that day where he publicly urged the Conservatives to hold off enacting the charter.”   

Outgoing Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran said the security officer at the VA department told him around the time of his appointment in 2007 that his own file had been accessed at least 400 times.   

This breach of privacy against vets is an outrage that no Canadian should tolerate. Such government action deserves — no, demands every newpaper and broadcaster give it STAND-UP, FRONTLINE ATTENTION of the highest priority.

Our military essentially guard all Canadian citizens’ human rights. To have our vets’ privacy abused is a WAKE-UP call to the country. Whose files are next? Yours and mine.   

Who knows? Maybe they’ve already been breached, and we don’t know it. What’s next? Citizens who have ignored their leaders’ actions in past regimes have done so at their own peril. When do we stand up to these government tyrants before we lose all our rights and freedoms as well?



About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan vets, Canadian Armed Forces, federal government, Homecoming Vets, veterans' affairs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A breach of any citizen’s privacy is a blight against all Canadians, not only vets

  1. 床墊 says:

    Undoubtedly, one of the best article l have come across on this precious topic. I quite agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates.

  2. Bonnie Toews says:

    Thank you both for dropping by and leaving your comments.


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