Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Premier Ball caught in a big Lie

Some people say that you know a politician is lying when you see his or her lips moving. I like to think that isn't true, but today's news is shaking that faith. David Vardy filed an access to information request to gain access to the employment contract of former Nalcor president Ed Martin. What a bombshell that was.

Premier Ball, and Ed Martin himself went public, speaking to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and claimed Ed Martin resigned. It was subsequently released that his severance package was just under $1.4 million dollars. Weeks later it was revealed that he was paid just under $200,000 in bonuses as well. As Ball slashed jobs, and severely increased taxes, he made the case that Martin's excessive severance was required by his contract, and there was no choice in the matter. However, with Vardy's release of Martin's contract, that was not true. In fact it was a boldfaced lie that was spoken to the public as if it were the truth.

Here is Martin's employment contract . You can see for yourself that the only circumstances that require a severance for Martin is dismissal. That makes sense because if Martin quit he would be the one breaking the employment contract, and therefore would not be entitled to compensation. In any case, he is not entitled to a severance package if he quit according to the terms of his employment outlined in the contract. So did he quit or was he fired and allowed to save face? Right now we don't know for sure. The bottom line is that either way Premier Ball lied, and now he's caught in it. If Martin was fired, then he was entitled to a package - but Ball said he quit for "family reasons". Now if he did quit, then Ball is lying when he said that the contract required him to receive a severance package. So, either way Ball lied to the people of the province. In case you don't recall his exact words, here are some of the stories that covered the severance storm that Ball addressed publicly: Telegram story ; and CBC story .

Ball needs to resign now for his deception - hell let's just call it what it is: boldfaced lie to the people of the province. The people already consider themselves betrayed by Ball's broken promises made during the election, but this takes things to an all new level. A level where people know their own premier has lied to their face and been caught in the act. It's a disgrace to his office, to the province and to democracy. Resign, Mr. Ball. Do the honourable thing if you're capable.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Minister Foote attacks Veteran

It didn't take long for the Liberals to get arrogant beyond belief did it? Last week the Liberals announced they were resuming the lawsuit against disabled veterans. Despite having passed a resolution in the House of Commons recognizing Canada's "sacred" duty to its injured veterans, a motion passed unanimously in the House, the good old Liberals just renewed the lawsuit against those same vets in the courts in BC. Among the points of contention - should veterans have to prove they are still disabled every 2 years? One of the vets in the suit points out his lost two legs are not going to regenerate themselves... and so it goes. The Liberals broke their word.

As one of those vets I was deeply angered at the betrayal. My local member of parliament Judy Foote, who also happens to sit at the right hand of the Prime Minister in Parliament, posted a few pictures of herself with provincial and federal politicians on Facebook a few days ago. It was the usual pomp and circumstance - flags, podium, smiling politicians - you get the idea. Ms. Foote captioned the photos with self-congratulatory commentary about $35 million the feds were putting into Newfoundland to help with roads, etc. Your typical political stuff here. However, given the absolute anger and borderline hatred displayed recently against the newly elected Liberal provincial government here, it was inflammatory at the least for Foote to be sitting with those same politicians extolling all that they're doing in the province. In other words, it was typical Newfoundland politics of "look at us, we're giving you money for a road, aren't we awesome". The flavour of politics here isn't going down well anymore.

My anger and disappointment at the Liberals renewal of the veterans lawsuit overcame me, as did the obvious attempt by Foote and her other Newfoundland and Labrador federal Liberal MPs to boost the provincial Liberal government, that I had to comment. As a disabled veteran, and as a member of Foote's riding, I thought it was my right to let her know my opinion on these issues. Wrong. Judy Foote, in her righteousness and arrogance decided that wasn't the case. Here's how it went down on Facebook:

Me: " Putting lipstick on a pig (the provincial Liberal Party)  doesn't help. They are tattered.    You should be convincing Trudeau to settle the lawsuit with injured veterans before you (the federal Liberal government) end up the same way."

This is how she responded:

"Well a happy 24th May long weekend to you too Brad. So now you've turned your sights to finding fault with initiatives I am taking as a Member of Parliament to help the people of NL. Why am I not surprised that I have ended up on your long list of those who just can't get it right and you say that without any idea of the work I do behind the scenes on many federal issues to make a difference in the lives of others including our veterans. It is so easy to find fault - having a positive impact takes effort and desire to effect real change and in some circumstances takes longer than in other cases."

Now, in case you can't find any logical connection with her response to me on Facebook and the comment posed to her, well let's just say you're not alone. Minister Foote in fact chose a public forum to marginalize, if not gently smear, a permanently, severely injured veteran - the kind she professes to do so much for. It is true that as a writer, commentator, and as a political scientist I do push for democratic change in this province. I push for fundamental change to the political culture of this province that Ms. Foote's commentary so richly illustrates. As part of that push for change I've written this post so that others can see not just the challenges seriously injured veterans must put up with in pushing for our rights, and those of our brothers and sisters, but also the contempt for which we are held in for doing so. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the right to freedom of thought and expression. Apparently Minister Foote disagrees.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Veterans Liberally Betrayed

                                               Kent Hehr, Liberal Minister of Veterans Affairs

As an injured vet I was really hoping against hope that the Liberals would live up to their promises made toward injured veterans during the election. Hope against hope. Fighting that inner voice that warned of disappointment after disappointment with politicians associated with Veterans Affairs - and in many cases the department itself. A vast bureaucracy that eats so much money that it would probably be cheaper to give every seriously injured vet a million dollars - it would cost far less and be far quicker - and just get rid of the department. Wishful thinking I know, but you have to go through the process of trying to deal with Veterans Affairs to understand the hell it is to deal with. It is not uncommon, according to studies, that some vets actually get PTSD, or severely acerbated cases of it, by simply dealing with Veterans Affairs for periods of 5-9 years simply to be looked after from their injuries.

So, the Liberals got in and made a big splash in their first budget about everything they would do for vets. They increased the Income Loss Replacement program from 75% to 90%. That's a monthly payment program to fund injured vets who can't work due to their injuries. Up until now the monthly payment has been based on a basic Corporal's pay. When they increased from 75-90% they reduced the basic payment to that of a senior Private. That's pretty hard for a guy like me to wrap my mind around considering I was a Captain - Major qualified - when I left. Getting paid as a Private is a wee bit of a demotion. Beyond the personal though, the Income Loss Replacement program is essentially all that is left of a "disability-like pension" that's there for vets anymore. It's only like a disability pension in that it is all you can receive as a monthly benefit anymore - there is no disability pension for us. A major difference: disability pensions are tax free, as are workers compensation programs. Not so for us broken soldiers. We pay tax on that monthly payment - a lot of tax. That was one of the issues that the lawyer for the six Afghan veterans suing Veterans Affairs was fighting for. That leads us to the latest betrayal of vets by this rather new Liberal government.

The Liberals promised to recognize the social contract the country had with those of us injured by our service. They were outraged and indignant that the Conservatives were denying a social contract existed with the veterans and their country during that lawsuit. Former Minister Erin O'Toole, Tory, a veteran himself, managed to have the lawsuit put on ice for a year to negotiate a settlement that would see these serious veterans issues addressed with honour. There was some optimism. However, for what ever reason, O'Toole did not reach an agreement with the vets and their lawyer before the election. The Tories lost, and the Liberals promised to fix it. They even passed an all party resolution in the House of Commons that recognized the social contract between the country and their injured soldiers. Things appeared to be going as they should be. There was calm in veteran land - so to speak. Then came this week.

There is no greater betrayal than the betrayal of hope. Veterans watched in horror and dismay as the new veterans minister threw us to the wolves by resuming the lawsuit in the BC Court. Now, as if a bad nightmare has been revisited, Hehr is using the very same argument in court - that there is no social contract between Canada and it's fallen and injured troops. It is a cut so deep for an injured veteran that it's hard to describe. It strips us of the dignity and honour of our service. It says we owe you nothing. You will get the crumbs we feel you deserve, when we deem it, and as much as we deem. You will be greatful. A soldier by definition has to be a proud person. Pride is drilled into you, and so is honour. You associate that with your comrades, your unit, your country and even yourself. Hehr, and his boss Trudeau, have just ripped that from us yet again. It hurts deeply and it is unforgiveable. To know betrayal you must have your Prime Minister and your national government stick the cold steel blade of political betrayal into your heart. That is what Hehr and Trudeau have done. They have Liberally betrayed us.