William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

CLAWBACK CAMPAIGN: Series Index

Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police retirees fight to have the clawback provisions of their pensions removed.

VETERAN’S PENSION CLAWBACK

It takes courage to be a soldier; not just to put their body in harm’s way and act as a buffer for their government and fellow countrymen but to do so knowing that in their time of illness and injury this same government body and its people will do very little for them.

It takes courage to be a soldier; to sign an oath offering up life itself, to enter into this noble profession in exultant, healthy youth only to return within months in a state of infirm and wretched old age brought on decades too soon, due principally, to injuries incurred in service to country.

How is the value of a soldier’s oath and offering estimated? Evidently, it is in the lengthy, costly lawsuits the government puts thousands of veterans through when they dare to ask for that which they have earned and are entitled to, as in the case of Agent Orange, Pension Claw-Backs, Benefits and Services. In a rare and generous moment, a stipend may be thrown their way in the hope it will shut them up.

Evidently, it is in the theft of their money. It no longer takes an Act of Parliament to makes changes to their pension funds as seen by the transfer of $16.5 Billion to pay down the National Debt. As recently as 2003-04, as the body count rises, a further $630 Million is being retired from the Pension Acct. $$ Millions have been withdrawn to bail out another mismanaged government agency: Canada Post.

There was an accumulated Military Annuity surplus of over $20 Billion, CPP has accumulated over $120 Billion surplus, in addition to the annual surpluses gained by the Military/RCMP insurance provider (SISIP) and in the mandatory payroll deductions of Employment Insurance that the very few will ever be permitted to collect. Still, the government continues to steal from their most important 24/7 Provider.

Why is this allowed to happen?

Because the simple truth is that the soldier stands low in the social order. Politicians wrap themselves in the flag and shamelessly parades our bravest like no other group before the public as an election tool; an accessory when it suits their own selfish aims.

They play and prey upon the public’s indifference, confusions and sympathies with deceit and unrivalled hypocrisy using hollow weasel words like ‘support the troops’. When politicians make speeches, they are skilfully arranging words to suit the sentimentality of their audiences. They seek to draw us into a belief that their values and beliefs are our values and beliefs; that we are one and the same. However they may move their lips and mask their words, it fails to hide their true belief, that when the soldiers have lost their value, the Government, and by association, the Canadian public just don’t care.

These leaders are willing to gamble with the lives of our soldiers without staking their own. Leaders in the House of Commons and Senate sit in judgment on whether the veterans deserve the same pensions and benefits that they have, so handsomely, rewarded themselves without ever having been under deadly fire. These leaders, who give little thought for sending soldiers into harm’s way, are the least likely to share in any of the burdens when the soldiers return wounded and broken. ‘Thanks a bunch! Welcome home! Here’s a medal! Now, shut up!’

What’s left when the bullshit is stripped away? The most cowardly of acts: Blatant Robbery and Abuse of our soldiers, veterans and their loved ones.

This is a non-partisan issue. Under the Liberal watch they have been neglected and negated. Under the Conservative watch they have been lied to, tricked and used. The Conservatives have delivered $Billions in Corporate tax breaks while ignoring to honour their last election promises to uphold a contract by the Canadian People which was and is forged in blood: soldier’s blood. PM Harper has claimed he has shed a few tears for the family. All Canadians have done that much.

To their credit, the NDP’s Veteran’s Motion received a majority vote in Parliament which the Harper government failed to recognize and act upon, thereby, ignoring the will of the people. In the past, the NDP have stood in support of our finest but, regrettably, have yet, to put their money where their mouth is in this present election. Could it be they, also, don’t want to make this promise because they, too, have no intention to make good on it? Why do political leaders act in complete opposite to whom and what they say they are and what they say they are doing? Because we let them!

I find it difficult to stomach that the Canadian Public supports the troops in spirit, bumper sticker and red t-shirt, only. Do we dare to claim otherwise when we continue to allow corrupt, uncaring and incompetent men be appointed to execute laws of self interest, to ignore the will of the people and squander public revenue in the billions of dollars for corporate tax breaks, stylist, juvenile TV ads, etc. while begrudging the Military/RCMP what they have so costly paid for themselves?

So, I ask, are we the same? Have we lost the comprehension of what justice, compassion and honour is; of what the veteran’s request means and our debt to them involves? Have we lost the ability to see them as worthy of common decency, respect and deserving of their basic right to live a life of dignity without begging for what they have earned? This is not a handout. They’ve paid more than they are permitted to take out. Yet, the government attempts to mould the public’s perception that there is no valid complaint, all the while, proclaiming they are the Veteran’s Saviours with only their highest good in mind.

Wake up, Canada! These are your sons and daughters. An election is here and the foxes are out wooing the chickens with still more promises. As you exercise your freedom to vote without persecution and as you enjoy the daily freedoms we all take for granted, each Canadian must decide for himself, alone, what is right and what is wrong; what is fair and unfair. Will you remain ignorant and silent and only sing the praises of our men and women in uniform when it suits you?

I’m weary of all the clichés and pieties about supporting the troops.

To paraphrase, Schopenhauer, I believe; ‘time plagues our existence and pursues us like an unrelenting task master with a whip’: None more so than with our veterans. Time is running out for many of them. Can’t we take a few minutes to write our leaders to say enough is enough? Aren’t they worth the price of an envelope; postage is free. When leaders act contrary to the conscience of Canadians then Canadians must act contrary to their leaders. It’s time we took care of those who have taken care of us in times of trouble and disaster and who have guarded our many freedoms. If we shirk this small action, then let our conscience and others label us as they may.

Sincerely,
Claudia Schibler (Veteran)
September 2008

The Chronicle Herald: September 2008

SUPPORT VETERANS: CLAW BACK CLAWBACK

By JOHN LABELLE

I write with regard to the claw-back to military/RCMP veterans’ pensions when they attain age 65. During the past three years, I and others have been actively involved with a campaign to terminate the clawback.

In 1966, the government merged, rather than stacked, our pension benefits. This pension clawback is just plain wrong.

We were not given any options; therefore, we were dealt with in a negligent fashion. Veterans have made the required maximum contributions and have always been listed separately on our pay guide, giving us a false sense of financial security.

Military and RCMP personnel were not properly briefed on the pitfalls associated with the merging of the CPP plan.

An estimated $20-billion surplus has been removed from our pension account to help pay down the national debt, an amount that would have been more than sufficient to resolve our pension issue.
The government of Canada has abandoned its veterans. This misguided policy continues to cause unexpected financial burden to a little over 110,000 retired military/RCMP veterans.

Veterans were available 24/7 without overtime pay; we served far abroad and often faced dangerous situations, health hazards, extended family separation, elevated levels of stress, and were prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Most of our spouses gave up their career aspirations to serve side by side with us – sacrifices that have left them with a major loss of CPP benefits!

The campaign has accumulated over 100,000 supporters, including 88 former colonels and generals, and our numbers continue to grow

Numerous associations – including the Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Armed Forces Pensioners’ Association of Canada, the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans of Canada, the Air Force Association in Canada and CARP, Canada’s association for the 50-plus – along with veterans living in 18 countries around the world have pronounced their support for our cause.

Veterans are seeking the leadership of a prime minister who will take action to give back to military/RCMP veterans the financial dignity they have paid for and so richly deserve.

Canadians are invited to support this veterans’ initiative by signing our petition clicking on the following button

John Labelle of Lower Sackville is campaign co-ordinator, Terminate Veterans Pension Clawback.