Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Shouldn't have ....ed off the vets Harper government they're really good at organizing!

Good Day Readers:

By the numbers. There are approximately 119,000 full time and reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces. But let us not forget their relatives and friends who can't be thrilled with the treatment of our veterans by the Harper government. "Helicopter Pete"/Julian Fantino you're toast too! Read on.

Clare L. Pieuk
Veteran wants to take on Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia Riding

Jane Taber
Monday, September 1, 2014
Although David MacLeod has yet to be nominated for the Central Nova riding, he is considered a preferred candidate for the Justin Trudeau team. (Jennifer Polson)

A Canadian Forces veteran, who served for 27 years in such hot spots as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo, wants to take on veteran Conservative MP and former Defence Minister Peter MacKay in his Central Nova riding, setting up a tense dynamic for the 2015 general election.

David MacLeod is seeking the Liberal nomination in the northern Nova Scotia riding, which Mr. MacKay, now the Justice Minister, has represented since 1997.

“My name’s David and he’s my Goliath,” Mr. MacLeod, 49, said in an interview Monday. He believes he can defeat the senior Stephen Harper minister with a campaign focusing on riding issues, such as job creation, but also on the plight of Canada’s military veterans, many of whom believe they’ve been mistreated and betrayed by the Conservative government.

“Peter does know the defence portfolio quite well and as such he should know the veterans’ portfolio equally well,” Mr. MacLeod said. “I think that Peter is going to have a bit of hard time with the veterans’ issue.” He said veterans from across Canada have contacted him and offered their support – “That will make things difficult for Peter.”

In an e-mail, Mr. MacKay said of Mr. MacLeod: “I commend him for his service to Canada. We welcome everyone to the democratic process.”

Mr. MacLeod was a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party but became disillusioned – in part, after Alberta Tory MP Rob Anders slept through a presentation he made with another Afghanistan veteran to a Commons committee in 2012. The incident provoked controversy after Mr. Anders characterized the two veterans as “NDP hacks” for criticizing him for dozing off. The MP later apologized.

Although he hasn’t been “green-lit” yet – the interview and background checks a person must go through before being allowed to run for a nomination – he is considered a preferred candidate by the Justin Trudeau team. In fact, he was approached by the Trudeau Liberals to run. Another local person is expected to contest the nomination, scheduled for later this month.

“It’s certainly an interesting contrast,” a key Nova Scotia Trudeau organizer said, asking not to be identified. “A former defence minister [and] a veterans’ advocate.… It does play with that whole narrative about Harper and his government and the mistreatment and the disrespect for veterans. So in that sense it’s a great little story.”

The Trudeau Liberals are leading in the polls in Atlantic Canada – and there is bullish talk among some of them that they could sweep Nova Scotia in the federal election.

Last month, Mr. Trudeau attended two fundraisers in the province, raising close to $200,000 in two days, exceeding expectations. There are 11 federal seats in Nova Scotia; the Liberals and Conservatives each have four, and the NDP holds three. However, two Conservative incumbents have announced they are not seeking re-election.

One of the Harper team’s Nova Scotia strategists scoffed at the Liberals’ view they could defeat Mr. MacKay, noting that, in last year’s provincial election, the three seats in Mr. MacKay’s federal riding went Progressive Conservative despite a Liberal sweep. “Peter is extremely popular there and I think that part of the reason why we did so well provincially is because of Peter,” the strategist said.

In addition, the Liberal organization in Central Nova suffered a setback in 2008 when then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion made a pact with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who was running in the riding. To help her get elected, he did not run a Liberal candidate against her. She was unsuccessful in her bid to defeat Mr. MacKay – and some Liberals from the riding became disillusioned and left the party.

Mr. MacLeod, however, is not worried. He points to the fact that the provincial Liberals were able to win the Antigonish riding, which is part of Central Nova, in last year’s election. He hopes to tap into that organization if he wins the nomination. Mr. MacLeod grew up in and around the federal riding – and has lived in Antigonish since 2009. His wife is a professor at St. Francis Xavier University there.

He served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for 17 years and, for the remaining 10 years, he was in military intelligence. He sustained a number of injuries in training, including being shot in the leg, which led to his medical discharge four years ago.

Follow Jane Taber on Twitter: @janetaber1

Read on .....

Veterans across Canada plot campaing against Conservatives

Paul McLeod Ottawa Bureau
Monday, August 11, 2014

Veteran Ron Clarke, seen at his home in Georges River on March 25, is one of the network of veterans planning to be active in the next federal election campaign opposing the Conservatives. (Ryan Taplin/Staff File)

A network of veterans across Canada is planning a co-ordinated campaign against the Conservative government during next year’s election.

The plan was sparked in January by a disastrous meeting in Ottawa with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino. In interviews, half a dozen organizers across four provinces say thousands of veterans will take part in the movement.

The plan is similar to the ABC campaign — urging people to vote Anything But Conservative — waged by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams.

“When the election is called, you’re going to see some large fallout, believe me,” said Sydney veteran Ron Clarke.

“As soon as the writ is dropped, we are in action.”

The two main issues driving the movement are the closure of nine regional Veterans Affairs Canada offices and the government’s new veterans charter.

The charter gives veterans who are wounded in combat a lump-sum payment instead of regular payments to support them throughout their lives.

About a dozen regional organizers have been in regular contact through conference calls.

The tactics vary. Newfoundland and Labrador organizer Paul Davis said veterans will be specifically targeting Conservative ridings to tell voters about how they have been mistreated by the government.

One group is even mulling getting a bus to take the cross-country campaign on the road.

Others say their protests will be more informal but nonetheless vocal.

“We have no co-ordinated thing planned, but I know that every veteran in the area is pissed,” said John Scott, a former peacekeeper in Cyprus who lives in Prince George, British Columbia.

The ball started rolling in January when a group of veterans gathered in Ottawa to meet Fantino. The minister was 70 minutes late and things only got worse when he did show up.

Fantino chastised one veteran for pointing his finger, and the minister walked away, seemingly exasperated, a few minutes later. News cameras caught the interaction.

Afterwards, several angry veterans who were present started to make plans.

“Up until he screwed up, it would have probably been a fairly quiet thing,” said Scott. “But he made the big mistake of mouthing off to the veterans, and a couple of them, of course, didn’t take it very well.”

Some veterans are also angry that the department spends money on advertising campaigns after cutting the regional offices to save costs.

New tendering documents show the federal government will spend $678,000 this year on “advertising and creative services” to mark Remembrance Day. Target Communications of Halifax, which operates as Compass Communications, won the contract.

That ad budget is the same or more than the annual costs of running several of the regional front-line offices closed earlier this year. The total costs of running eight regional offices came to $5 million per year (the annual costs of the ninth closed office, in Prince George, are not known.)

Veterans who spoke to The Chronicle Herald said the department has its priorities wrong and has been regularly spending on advertising while cutting front-line services.

But the department said the Remembrance Day campaign is well within its mandate.

“It is part of the mandate of Veterans Affairs to keep the memory of the achievement and sacrifices of veterans alive for all Canadians,” said an emailed statement from the department.

“It is important to note (Veterans Affairs) advertising expenditures will not impact the department’s budget for veterans’ services and benefits.”

About the Author

E-Mail: pmcleod@herald.ca
Twitter: @pdmcleod


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