In the last election Justin Trudeau and his Liberals promised the sun, the moon and the stars to Canada’s veterans.
They didn’t promise to make them wait in line for service while a murderer took their place.
Yet that is not only what is happening but what the Liberals are now defending.
News broke at the end of August about Christopher Garnier, a 30 year-old man, was convicted in the 2015 murder of police officer Catherine Campbell.
PTSD caused by brutal murder.
Garnier strangled her with his bare hands, put her body in a large garbage bin and wheeled her out to a location under a bridge.
The horrific ordeal left Garnier, we are told, with PTSD.
So Veterans Affairs Canada is paying for his PTSD treatment.
Here is the thing, Garnier has never served in our military. His father did but he didn’t.
When the story broke, there was outrage. An outrage that Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said he understood.
Yet in the end, O’Regan is not fixing this.
O’Regan had a choice.
On Tuesday the minister released a statement that will change how his department deals with cases in the future but he will not revoke Garnier’s benefits.
“Going forward, treatment benefits will not be provided to a veteran’s family member who is incarcerated in a provincial or federal facility,” O’Regan said.
The key phrase here, “going forward.”
It is such a perfect political phrase, one devoid of meaning for most of us but so useful for the politician.
He won’t fix the problem now but will in the future.
“I have reviewed the department’s findings on this issue, and I am directing them to ensure the services received by a family member of a veteran are related to the veteran’s service and where they are not, that the case be reviewed by a senior official,” O’Regan said.
Quizzed on this in the House of Commons the former broadcaster put his best acting chops on display. Really, watch for yourself, it might even get a regional award at a high school drama festival.
What his performance won’t do is solve the problem at hand.
Garnier doesn’t deserve these benefits.
There is no way on God’s green earth that Christopher Garnier should be getting veteran’s benefits.
He is getting them because his father served. Well, both now and when the murder happened, Christopher Garnier was a grown man.
I remember being on my parent’s benefits plan. It didn’t extend into my late 20s and early 30s, that simply wasn’t the case.
Why Veteran’s Affairs Canada felt this was a good use of their limited resources when so many vets, people that actually served, wait for help is beyond me.
I served less than a year as a Class B reservist, was never deployed and saw no action. Yet men that I served with stayed on and saw things that broke them.
I’ve had grown men break down in tears with me in bars. Seen tough guys turn silently inward. Watched as families deal with the despair caused by what we ask out men and women in uniform to do, to witness, to clean up.
That these real veterans have to wait while Christopher Garnier gets front of the line treatment is an affront to everyone that has ever donned the uniform.
I expected more from Justin Trudeau, more from Seamus O’Regan. Because they promised more.
Turns out they were just pretty words.
Our veterans deserve better.