SULTAN JESSA: Veterans and Fantino

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Canada’s veterans are preparing for a different kind of war.

This is a political war and the enemy this time is the Tory government.

The veterans are furious because Ottawa has decided to close eight Veterans Affairs Offices across Canada insisting case loads had fallen fewer than 160 case-managed veterans.

Federal officials also insist veterans who require case workers will continue to receive services at their homes.

There are always two sides to a story.

However, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has made a real mess of the already controversial issue.

The closure of the office comes at a time when veterans are in a real touchy mood.

Many Afghan war veterans have been taking their own lives with alarming frequency.

This controversy also comes at a time when Ottawa has been shortchanging veterans on pensions and benefits leaving some facing poverty.

This is no way to treat veterans.

It is obvious there is a lot of wastage in government.

Ottawa should have looked at other alternatives to save money and engaged in real negotiations before taking this drastic step against people who have served this country well.

Fantino showed up nearly 70 minutes late for a scheduled meeting.

He had some sharp exchanges with veterans, who later vowed to fight against the ruling Tories in the 2015 elections,

Fantino should have kept his scheduled appointment and apologized for the shabby way the meeting was conducted.

Now the Tories, including Stormont-Dundas –South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon say the veterans have been misled by certain groups to play political games and engage in partisan activities.

He said the main culprit was the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which has deliberately misleading the veterans.

Fantino, the former top cop in Toronto, should have been more accommodating and should have taken pains to explain what the government decision means.

Instead he skipped the start of the meeting by showing up late and told veterans there will be no change in government’s decision.

The minister got into a shouting match and left the meeting abruptly.

Ottawa should be paying more attention to our veterans who have put their lives on line for us.

The veterans have declared war on the government and vow to campaign across the country in the next election.

It is sad this sensitive issue has become a political issue.

Organizations: Tory, Veterans Affairs, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada, Toronto

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