Nov. 5, 2011: YOU ARE THERE — 2nd Canadian Veterans’ National Protest Rally Speeches on Parliament Hill

For those who could not attend the Second Protest Rally of our Canadian Veterans in front of Parliament Hill, speeches of Mike Blais and Kenneth H. Young. BONNIE

CVNDOP Parliament Hill Speech – Michael L Blais CD, Founder/President Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Good morning.

Please add your voices as we join in singing our national anthem.

Oh Canada

Before we commence with today’s rally, I would invite Veterans Advocate Jacques de Winters to lead us in a special prayer for those veterans amongst us who have been called to a higher order since we congregated last year and to those who have, in our name, been slain in Afghanistan. During the moment of silence between the prayer and the ode to remembrance, I would encourage you to honour not only the fallen with your thoughts, but the families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who have shared in this solemn sacrifice, who now face the Remembrance period with the dread that only someone who has lost in war or peace can comprehend.


Prayer, 2 minutes silence

–Flowers of the forest-

Ode to Remembrance.

Thank you, Jacques.

We have fulfilled our obligation to the fallen, let us now fulfill our obligation to the living, the airmen, sailors, soldiers, coast guardsmen, RCMP and Police Services officers who on Canada’s behalf serve at home and abroad in Harm’s Way. Today we reaffirm our devotions to them and the nation’s war widows and memorial cross mothers, to those who have been wounded and veterans who have been affected by the consequences of war not only in this generation, but all generations of Canadian patriots.

During the past year we have as veterans united continued our battle against the grave inadequacies of the New Veterans Charter and the adverse conditions accorded to our wounded warriors who serving abroad have suffered the consequences of war and turned to our government for assistance and care. Our government has claimed to have heard our voices, the cries of frustration from the wounded and the families and in recognition of their plight, legislated Bill C-55.

Tragically, Bill C-55 did not address one single issue veterans and Canadian patriots rallied to defend last November?

The lump sum award continues to treat our modern warriors as second class veterans unworthy of the life time commitment from our government, isread, subject to much lower level of income. The changes to the amount have been insignificant and the option of taking monthly payments only spreads the existing award over time for as long as the money lasts. How does this reflect the lifetime, sacred bond our parliament is indebted to those they have sent to war?

It does not!

Most recently, we have borne witness to a fathers love for his son, one of many who have been terribly injured in Afghanistan. Mr Jim Scott is preparing a nationwide class-action suit to address the profound unfairness of the chump sum award and it is our full intention as a veterans advocacy to do everything in our power to ensure Mr Scott has the financial resources not only to win his case for his son in the federal courts, but to set a precedence that will sound the death knell of the New Veterans Charter

Our resolve has also been tested on another of the five principles veterans rallied for last year and today we are very pleased to note that Dennis Manuge, a tireless veterans advocate who has taken the lead on a class action suit to redress this grave injustice, has joined us on Parliament Hill from Nova Scotia. What is most exciting is that after years of our government contesting veterans rights to unite in class action litigation, Dennis and his legal team will finally fight for justice for myself and over 6000 litigants a Halifax courtroom in two weeks time.

The government has also refused also to accept its responsibility on the issue of Agent Orange contamination or exposures to other dangerous environmental hazards that are common on today’s modern battlefield. Veterans who served in Suffield during Exercise Vacuum in 1968 were exposed to Mustard Gas yet continue to wait for compensation. Those who ingested a multitude of toxic substances during the fire aboard HMCS Kootenay… continue to wait for compensation. The Agent Orange compensation package that has been presented continues to deny veterans and their families the compensation they deserve by omitting all but those who were exposed during a seven day period between 1966-67.  Thousands of others…. still wait for compensation

Then there are the veterans that are firmly convinced that they are suffering from depleted uranium contamination, a situation that has been tragically highlighted by veteran Pascal Lacoste’s hunger strike in front of Veterans Affair Minister Steven Blaney’s office as we speak. He to is… waiting for compensation!

Ken Young, a staunch Agent Orange advocate who traveled all the way from British Columbia to speak to this issue and will be joined by Dr. Meg Sears, who earned her doctoral degree from McGill University and is currently associated with the Children’s Hospital and Ottawa Hospital Research Institutes researching environmental determinants of health and epidemiology. Dr. Sears has been a long standing friend to veterans and has prepared affidavits regarding the deficiencies of government-funded so-called “fact-finding” research regarding herbicide spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.(Louise Richard, Gulf War veteran and staunch veterans advocate, feared she could not attend as her grandmother is very ill but indeed joined Meg and Ken. A suitable introduction was improvised.)

The Age 65 annuity reduction continues to plague members of the military, RCMP and Coast Guard when they retire and when added to the cessation of disability awards for our disabled veterans, poses a significant obstruction to veterans financial security at a time when they need financial security most.

Our widows continue to be denied programs that were offered to our war widows prior to 2006. I ask you, is the profound sacrifice of a loved one any less worthy today than those who have suffered this extraordinary tradegy prior to 2006. Is this how a nation as proud and free as Canada demonstrates our respect? Does this reflect the Sacred Bond between parliament and those who they would send to war?

What we are here today to address however transcends all of these issues, today, we have rallied across the nation to protect the very institution responsible for the care and financial well being of our wounded warriors, RCMP and Police Service officers from indiscriminate budget cuts that could potentially reach up to half a billion dollars.

Veterans can be excused for being confused, was it not only five months ago that the Conservative government boasted about providing an additional $2 billion to ensure Veterans Affairs Canada had the tools and the resources to provide the quality of life many of our modern veterans were not being accorded?

What has changed in this short time that the government now would subject these same wounded warriors not only one massive budget reduction, but two! The Strategic Review is calling for 175-300 million dollars in reductions to VAC;  now, an additional 226 million dollars is now planned. Instead of providing the financial resources necessary to support Veterans Affairs Canada’s ongoing efforts to provide qualitive service to our veterans, we are confronting a situation wherein a half a billion dollars removed from VAC’s operating budget and 5-800 position could be lost!

The government would claim that there will be no change in veteran’s services, that the benefits will be accorded to them as they are required. They would claim if additional monies are required, they will be provided.

The question is, how long will this take?

Have we forgotten how long it took for the regulatory change responsible for providing the forty thousand dollars minimum to our youngest and most vulnerable veterans?

Have we forgotten the fact that these kids and their families were subject to month upon month of undue financial hardship before they would receive, just this past month, the assistance that would raise them, just barely, out of poverty?

Can we in good conscience allow history to repeat?

No, I say to all Canadians, no, we cannot!

Today have rallied across Canada to stand for a sacred principle, a principle etched in blood, sacrifice, valour and the death, a principle abandoned to great consequence in 2006 when the New Veterans Charter was implemented. The time for our government to recognize their obligation to the wounded has come, the time to restore the Sacred Bond between our parliament and Canada’s sons and daughters has come. The time to fight for the tools and resources to ensure our wounded warriors, military, RCMP and police service veterans are accorded the dignified quality of live hs come, the time to ensure that dignified quality of life is not threatened by a government’s zeal to pay off the nations national debt has come… today, we have answered the cries of the wounded, we have heard the cries of the widows, we have heard the cries of the wives and families who are coping under extraordinary circumstances and we have rallied to their cause today and will do so in the future!

I would now invite Colin Pick, the president of Canada’s oldest veterans organization, to speak. Thank you, Colin

I would now invite Perry Gray, senior editor of Veterans and a member of the VAC Stakeholders committee, to the podium

I would now invite veterans advocate Ken Young and doctor Meg Sears to speak to the environmental issues confronting our modern warriors and veterans of many era. I would note that my friend Louise Richards had to travel to Quebec City on a family emergency and as such, she cannot be with us today.

We have selected Dennis Manuge to be our cornerstone speaker for a very special reason. In two weeks time, the SISIP class action suit will finally be moving forward in a Halifax courtroom and for the first time in many years nearly sixty five hundred veterans can see a glimmer of hope and the prospects of the financial freedom the end of the claw back on the Veterans Affairs Canada pension will afford unto them as they grow older. Sadly, I have also just learned, Dennis has been the victim of several privacy breaches at VAC and will be addressing this issue this morning. Dennis.

Before we conclude, I would take a special moment to thank everybody who took the time to assist in organizing the 2nd Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest both here in Ottawa and across the nation. Many have contributed long hours or, as in the case of Ken, who traveled from BC and Dennis, who journeyed from Nova Scotia, undertook considerable expense to be here with us today. Many have travelled from across Ontario to demonstrate their that their oath of allegiance does not have an expiry date, that the loyalty we have for our brother and sisters in arms in not conditional on the uniforms that we once wore but the sprit we, the veterans of this nation, have for Canada, our home and native land.

God bless our troops, RCMP and police services officers who are serving abroad in our name, their families during this period of heightened stress and our veterans who stand on guard today as they stood on guard yesterday and they will stand on guard tomorrow. God bless Canada.

God save the Queen

Thank a Soldier Peter Holley

CVNDOP 2011 Parliament Hill Speech,

Kenneth H Young CD

Kenneth H Young CD

Veterans, Serving Canadian Forces members, RCMP and all other Police Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen, Media and any MP listening,

When I was asked to speak here about Agent Orange, I sat down and wrote a very informative speech, stating all the facts, dates, figures, statistics and even all of the known science about Agent Orange and the effects it has on humans. After all I have just returned from a Vietnam tour where I got to see many the third generation results and the absolute horrors of Agent Orange Exposure.

I was going to give Ottawa what for in their one backyard, but after thinking about it in a more quiet and rational moment, I said to myself, “WHAT FOR!” I realized that Ottawa and this Government didn’t need another rendition (or what they might call another ranting) about what they did or did not do, what they knew or not, or when they became aware of the dangers to which the Canadian Military and the civilian population surrounding these camps, were being placed in, by the use of these contaminated chemicals.

Let’s face the reality here. Ottawa knows full well what was done in CFB Gagetown, they today know only too well what these chemicals can and have done to our Canadian Soldiers, and above all, they are more than aware of the costs involved and legal ramifications if they were to allow a full Public and Judicial Inquiry. After all they (The Government of Canada) are the party who dragged Pharmacia (formally known as Monsanto) and Dow Chemical into the class action and then spent over $8 million of our own Tax Dollars to make sure that their own military could never get their day in court.

We must also remember that if Ottawa spent $8 million that Dow and Pharmacia would both have sent at least that much, leaving the soldiers lawyers to fight close to $30 million worth of legal defence with zero money unless they win the law suit, which our own Government so far has dragged out for more than 5 years.

Not a very fair legal system if you ask me. One side fighting with zero money unless and only when they win the case, while the Government can and does use as much of our Tax Dollars as it takes and two of the richest chemicals firms helping them with all their resources. Let’s face it; they don’t even have to win. All they have to do is drag it out long enough that they can bankrupt any law firm stupid enough to take our case.

But in either case Ottawa has no intention to allow any court or soldier to get their hands on any of the hidden information surrounding Canada’s use of the Rainbow Chemicals.

Then I thought that I would belch out a firebrand rendition of the facts for once forcing the media to finally print or broadcast the truth about Gagetown and our story but then I was forced to remember being told at least three times by media personal when I was pitching Agents Orange and White information their way, that they were truly sorry but that there were stories which they are not allowed to touch. Because it was what we were talking about, I took that to mean Agent Orange. So I suppose that this would also be a fruitless way of attacking the story.
There is one thing I do, however, wish to suggest to everyone here and that is: If Ottawa insists that they sprayed Gagetown in order to save money and that the chemicals in question were registered for use in Canada, what in the world would make anyone believe that CFB Gagetown was the only Canadian Forces Base sprayed? There are many bases where there was a need to clear impact areas, many firing ranges and many drop zones which needed to remain clear of trees.

Although there are without any doubt dozens more, Borden, Petawawa, Val Cartier, Shiloh and Suffield come quickly to mind.

There is no doubt in my mind that if saving money was the real reason, that there were other bases where money could be saved and if the chemicals although they should never have been, were in fact registered for use in Canada, what was to stop them? And now that Ottawa refuses to allow any information to escape their vaults; who will ever know?

The fact that there are so many Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Korean, Vietnamese and American web sites and pages and even many dedicated to Gagetown makes it somewhat redundant for me to say too much on the subject. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice in such a short time anyway.

But another thing crossed my mind when I sat down to write this speech, and that was what other problems VAC or maybe more accurately Ottawa (our Canadian Government) such as Depleted Uranium, Radiation poisoning (sickness), Suffield’s chemical tests, untested and unproven medications like the anti-malaria drug mefloquine (Lariam) and immunizations, Gulf War Syndrome, until very recently PTSD and now Burn Pit.

Then it sort of struck me. In my opinion Ottawa is willing to allow the VAC to give consideration to Occupational injuries (you know the ones caused by repeated military actions) such as Tinnitus from weapons firing, Osteoarthritis from repeated jumping off tanks and APC’s and so on, but do not seem to want to get involved with Operational or environmental hazards such as chemicals, radiation, defoliants, burn pits, medications and mental stress.

I believe that this was demonstrated recently when a no doubt Depleted Uranium contamination case was refused by both the VAC and VRAB and that even upon appeal to the Minister, Ottawa chose to blame the medics and Doctors with medical misadventure rather than open up the door to any further DU cases.

Basically Ottawa has allowed the VAC to process injuries claims caused by mechanical or equipment use, but under no circumstances for any injury which may have been caused by the very decisions which Ottawa themselves made.

We must realize that many of our problems are not actually VAC problems. They are Canadian Government problems. If Ottawa refuses to acknowledge medical conditions caused by these chemicals, radiations the others I mentioned and the as of yet unrecognized problems, which our Military face, the VAC has no mandate to award even one penny.

It is high time for all us Veterans regardless of our stripes, ranks, service dates or Corps to put all of our differences’ behind us and to united for one more battle, once again as brothers in arms, in order to help create changes to the treatment of all Canadian Veterans and by extension, help Ottawa to change its way of thinking, today and for all future generations of Canadian Military.


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.
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