Military/RCMP Veterans’ Campaign

COMOX VETS ACTIVITIES IN SUPPORT OF THE CAMPAIGN

Supporters
Military/RCMP Veterans’ Campaign against Pension Reduction at Age 65

Veterans in Comox, BC and surrounding area have recently been instrumental in creating a considerable amount of media interest into the Military and RCMP Veterans’ Campaign against Pension Benefits Reduction at Age 65. It all started over a letter published in the Comox Valley Record by the local Conservative MP Mr John Duncan from the North Vancouver Island riding. In that letter Mr Duncan related the standard Conservative Party position of non-support for the Campaign, emphasizing their argument that there is no unfairness associated with the reduction of the CFSA and the RCMPSA at age 65 and that Veterans are getting what they paid for.

Some local Veterans responded to Mr Duncan’s letter, some of which were also published in the Comox Valley record.

Major (retired) Paul Weed of Comox sent in a rebuttal to Mr Duncan’s letter in which he related his dissatisfaction with the MP’s lack of support for the Campaign and clearly outlined his viewpoint as to why the reduction of the CFSA and the RCMPSA is unfair. A copy of Major Weed’s letter and an associated cartoon is attached for your information.

On the 22 June 09 a group of Comox Veterans marched on a local establishment where Mr Duncan’s was speaking, carrying placards that criticized him and the Government for not supporting the Campaign. The Comox Veterans’ group are to be congratulated for their outstanding initiative. Bravo Zulu!

Comox Veterans March for Support of Campaign
Comox Veterans march in support of Military/RCMP Veterans’ Campaign against Pension Reduction

Supporters from throughout the Country are encouraged to get involved and respond to the Comox Valley Record’s ongoing coverage of the Campaign which can be achieved through an interactive link at the above URL. This is a great way for Veterans to stress their support for the Campaign and counter the Conservative Party’s argument.

Roger Boutin
Public Relations Co-ord
M. R. (Mel) Pittman
Web Master

Comox Veterans March for Support of Campaign

Bridge Leads To Nowhere

Dear editor,

I am a military veteran who proudly served this country for 41 years in uniform (five of those years on foreign soil).

I read your article on Bill C-201 that was on the front page of the Record June 3. To say it was a disappointment to me (and no doubt to most veterans) is an understatement.

When I joined the military in 1964 as a 17-year-old, I did so freely but I must confess I was a little naive about many things (pensions being one of them). However, it didn’t take my leaders long to enlighten me.

As I stood on a parade square one day during basic training, an instructor said something so profound that it has stuck with me all these years. He said, “From this moment on, your job is to protect democracy, not participate in it!”

In many ways Mr. Duncan, he was right. In fact, in the early years, I was not allowed to publicly support a candidate, speak on political issues or get involved in any way, including putting support signs on my lawn.

My spouse was also forbidden to place signs, and was similarly discouraged from actively engaging in politics. This was later challenged by a group of spouses in New Brunswick, resulting in the military having to concede this point.

We were even “officially” discouraged from discussing politics, the very democracy I may have been asked to give my life in support of.

I freely gave up many things most people still take for granted. For example, I moved when I was told to move (if I owned a home and lost money on the move, too bad), I didn’t have the right to be represented by a union (or for that matter represent myself) on such things as wages, working conditions, over-time, etc.

In fact, I needed permission from my command officer to marry my beautiful bride because in those days we were told that if the military had wanted us to have a wife they would have issued us one!

The pay was lousy and the equipment was old (I see some things haven’t changed) but we accepted the working conditions because that was the profession we chose.

“From this moment on, your job is to protect democracy, not participate in it!”

We spent many months on courses or deployments away from our families, friends and communities, many times as long as six months or a year at a time. We were willing to put ourselves in danger so others wouldn’t have to.

Very few of us made enough from our military wages to have a “savings” account or make investments to help us in retirement. Many of us had part-time jobs and our spouses needed to work.

Some years ago, there were military personnel who qualified for welfare. The public outcry, no doubt coupled with government embarrassment, resulted in pay raises and changes to allowances to help alleviate this situation.

However, there are no other Canadians (including Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan) who will, when they reach the age of 65, have their pensions reduced so drastically.

He cannot use the explanation that it is simply a removal of “bridging.” This “bridge” does not reach the other side for most of us!

He is right about one thing – it is not a clawback of our pension, it is a reduction.-

In fact, there is not one other pension plan in this country which so drastically reduces a pensioner’s “income.” And it does so at a time in many of our lives when we are most vulnerable.

Many veterans are or will become senior s (of course we will receive the “gold card” and of occasionally get cheaper ferry rides) but the cost of living goes up and will continue to do so forever. Yet our Member of Parliament thinks it’s OK to “reduce” our pensions?

I always believed that the purpose of a “bridge” is to provide a safe way across something. In the case of the “bridging” of the two pensions that was designed 43 years ago (and never updated) was to safely get us to the CPP.

What Mr Duncan is advocating is remove that bridge when we need it the most. He and his party’s refusal to support Bill C-201 will ensure that we can never safely reach the other side.

Mr. Duncan, most, if not all of us (who have or will have our pensions reduced at age 65) find your explanation condescending and insulting.

He also mentions in the newspaper article that his pension is not reduced at age 65 and neither are those of senators and federal judges. He went on to say that, “If people take issue with that, they should stay on topic.” Looking at his generous pension plan, I certainly see why he doesn’t want us to bring that subject to the public’s attention!

I have now decided to exercise my democratic right and will proudly do so. I used my last vote in the federal election to send Mr. Duncan to Ottawa. He and his party have, however, disappointed me greatly and I’m not the only one in his riding to feel this way.

Paul A. Weed,
Comox Valley