Who stands on guard for them?
In our anthem, we proudly offer the promise, of true patriot love, to stand on guard for thee. Now I ask the question, for the sons and daughters who take up arms, and stand on guard for thee, who stands on guard for them?
Once it was the Canadian people, for under their direction the government of Canada vowed it would match the commitment of those brave men and women who offered their very lives for their country, that those who suffered loss through that service would be honoured and compensated for their losses for the length of their lives. Once to offer your life, and come back wounded, was to know that your nation would look after you in life, as you risked your life to look after it. No more.
In a 1917 speech by Prime Minister Robert Borden during the First World War: “The government and the country will consider it their first duty,” Borden said, “to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.” 
This is the Canada that was, a Canada that was worth the blood of its sons and daughters. We stand now at the hundred year anniversary of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian Army undertook under its own banners and leadership a task the mighty British Army and proud French Army had both undertook and failed. We stood for the first time not as a child of the British Empire under their leadership, but as a world power, a nation of proud and independent identity. For the first time we raised our own banner and strode into history by breaking a German defence that cast down the mightiest militaries of its day. Our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood at Vimy and spoke thus.
The price they paid.
The burden they bore.
The country they made.
Seven thousand and four Canadians were wounded in the battle that began here, 100 years ago today. Three thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight Canadians died.
This, from a population, in 1917, of just eight million.
Think of it, for a moment. The enormity of the price they paid.
These were, for the most part, young men in their late teens and early twenties. Not professional soldiers. But they were superbly trained. And supported by months of painstaking preparation.
Yet for all that, they still required courage – to a degree that is hard to fathom.
They weren’t impervious to fear, these men. They were human. Homesick, tired, footsore and cold.
Yet still, they advanced. Uphill, through mud. Under fire. They advanced, fighting like lions, moving just behind a devastating allied artillery barrage.
And they did not stop. They did not stop, until they had victory.”
This is the military tradition of my nation, the system that trained my Grandfather in WWII, my father who deployed with the UN to such far flung and unheralded conflicts as the Belgian Congo, and in turn myself. There was a big difference between the welcome we returned to. Seven of my family went to the First World war, two returned, and vowed the names of the five who did not live to have sons would be the names of each of their sons in memory. I bear two of those names, as does my father, grandfather, and uncles. We remember, we keep the covenant. The two who returned after WWI received parades, as did the three sons and one daughter who returned from WWII, although Great Uncle Ran received instead a name graven on a memorial, and burial in foreign soil.
My father and Uncle Jack who fought in the Congo, like those who fought in Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Somalia, or deployed to any of the thousand war zones our sons and daughters have served our nations in the past generations did not receive such parades; received often open disdain instead. A military disdained by the Canadian people was told every year since the 1960’s to do more with less. Our NATO obligation is to spend 2% per year on our military and we have never done so. We cycle too few people in tired, mostly breaking down equipment into war zones again and again, pretending with a staff of senior officers and banners that we actually have the forces that these regimental banners imply. We deploy the same bodies again and again, as we don’t’ actually have three battalions of troops per regiment, so we are not rotating actual troops so much as conducting a shell game with banners while much of the gear and senior non-commissioned troops cycle again and again through the fire until they are broken. This is what “doing more with less” translates into.
We sacrifice our sons and daughters. We use them up, we expend them. We don’t have the bodies to meet our commitments in a sustainable fashion, so we are forced to do so in an unsustainable fashion. Our sons and daughters step into the fire again and again, because that is the greatness that built this nation. That excellence burns in the hearts of our best and brightest, and these are what we are breaking through our careless belief that these political games that allow politicians to make great promises without actually spending any money on increasing the ability of a force that has not been supported properly since the 1950’s. The politicians spend the blood of our children, because its cheaper than tax dollars in the budget.
Now they want the blood for free.
Afghanistan saw a return to the Canadian people being proud of their soldiers, but the Government that sent them there, Steven Harper’s Conservatives argued that Sir Robert Borden promising to care for Canadian war veterans for life was just a politicians promise, only an election lie, and not something the Government of Canada was actually bound by.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party platform in his election platform stated:
“Our servicemen and women, who have put their lives on the line for their country, stand for the very best of what it means to be Canadian. For many, their commitment has come at a high cost. During our mission in Afghanistan, for example, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces lost their lives, with thousands more wounded or left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, our brave women and men are stationed in conflict zones, including Ukraine, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing their expertise as trainers, peacekeepers, in combat and in disaster relief, among other areas. We have a social covenant with all veterans and their families that we must meet with both respect and gratitude.
For a decade, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have dishonoured us all by failing to uphold this sacred obligation. They have not been truthful to, or respectful of, our veterans. They have laid off hundreds of frontline support staff and closed nine local service offices – making it even harder for veterans to access a vital support system that the Auditor General already criticized as “complex and time-consuming.” Veterans who need crucial mental health services are waiting months, even years, to get help. Harper even left over $1 billion budgeted for veterans’ services unspent.
A Liberal government will live up to our obligation to Canada’s veterans and their families. We will demonstrate the respect and appreciation for our veterans that Canadians rightly expect, and ensure that no veteran has to fight the government for the support and compensation they have earned.”
Talk is cheap. So are the promises of the Canadian Government.
Once in power, the “Right Honourable” Justin Trudeau reinstated the Harper governments stance. Justice Department lawyers arguing for the government stating in court “the government is required to give disabled former soldiers only as much as Parliament chooses. It also says the principle of the “honour of the Crown,” which requires the government to act honourably during negotiations and upon which the veterans relied in making their case, applies only to agreements with aboriginal people.”
The lawsuit in question is not actually asking for veterans to be looked after in any special fashion. The lawsuit in question is raised by Veterans who are asking for their permanent disabling injuries to be treated the exact same as any other workplace injury, through the same formula the Workers Compensation Board would set for any workplace accident.
Understand this: the position of the Canadian government is that the bodies of our soldiers are the only worthless ones in this nation. Any civilian who is permanently injured through work will be covered for life, only those who undertook the defense of their nation can be screwed over with a one time payment far below what you would get if you got the same injuries on a construction site, in an accident as a bike courier, or burned at Starbucks.
Those young men and women who “Stood on guard for thee” as it says in our anthem, who stands on guard for them?
Justin Trudeau, I name thee nithling, honourless oathbreaker. You have broken faith with those whose service has defended the country and the citizens you lead. Under your orders they stand into danger, under your orders they bleed, they are crippled and they die, and under your aegis this sacrifice is nothing but an opportunity for a sound byte, an uplifting speech given to your adoring press corps, and certainly not worth the attention of a leader to those who have fallen or been injured in his service.
Service folk are bound by their oaths. They swear an oath of service, and it binds them even unto death. We are are oath, and our service. We oath to the Crown and not the Prime Minister for a reason. The Crown has kept faith with us, it is our elected officials who care only for the dollars they want to spend on politically attractive programs and not on paying the cost of what they do with our military that have failed us. When a soldier swears his loyalty to the Crown, and to the people of Canada is it an obligation backed by blood and steel. When a politician promises to care for the soldiers injured or killed in service to that same government, you should understand, it is just a speech, they don’t actually ever intend on honouring it.