Friday, August 20, 2010

Are our veterans really that expendible?

Yesterday, Impolitical asked the question a lot of us have been asking privately:   Is Stephen Harper a wanabee Maurice Duplessis?    She was writing about how some in the Cabinet want to force out Judge Konrad von Finkenstein from the CRTC and get a new crony that will require cable companies to carry Sun News -- um, Fox News North -- even if we don't want to pay for it.

I have to ask if the same attitude applies to our veterans, especially those who served in Afghanistan or in peacekeeping missions and are fighting like crazy to collect LTD, which Impolitical also wrote about in her space two days ago.   If the comment being circulated was corrected quoted and attributed, that our veterans are better off dead than alive, then Harper and Co. can, I believe, expect the collective wrath at the ballot box equal to that of a single woman scorned.

Don't believe it?   In 1932, American veterans of World War I, sideswiped as many others were by the Great Depression, demanded up-front payment of deferred benefits that were not due until 1945.   The then current Army responded by firing chemicals at the veterans.   President Hoover actually ordered the response to be stopped but General MacArthur ordered a new attack believing the veterans to be Communists.   (Posse comitatus does not apply, it seems, to Washington DC.)  Ordinary people were so outraged when they saw the newsreel footage that they turned out to the polls in droves and ensured FDR got an even larger win than he would have otherwise.    Ultimately the bonuses were paid in 1936, and fresh thinking during World War II led to the GI Bill, which ensures UI benefits and a university education for veterans to this day.

We don't have a draft here in Canada -- our armed service is all volunteer and we try to make sure those we recruit are the very best men and women.   Don't we owe it to them to make sure they're taken care of if they get injured before they complete their twenty?    Judging by the number of veterans' plates, there are a lot more people to whom we owe our gratitude than we may think.    Those who are disabled should get payments indefinitely until they can work again -- not a lump sum and a "slam, bam, thank you ma'am" shove-off.

So what of the analogy?

Duplessis dealt with the unions with a heavy hand; opposed urban development (highways were improved in rural areas to just before city limits -- often right at where riding boundaries were where someone from the opposition had been elected); attempted a legal form of a "Final Solution" for the Jehovah's Witnesses; and stood idly by while Wilbert Coffin was lynched.   All while having an incestuous relationship with the Catholic Church and big business.   (Priests got away with saying "Heaven is blue, hell is red" during election campaigns, ensuring win after win for the Union Nationale.)  The only thing that ensured the end of the "Great Darkness" was television, when people in Québec finally saw the outside world and just how much they were being ripped off.

Change a few players in the present day and we see history repeating itself -- with the proviso that media concentration means fewer media voices and not more.   Harper knows the bread that butters him and he will kowtow.   Judging by the news archives of TVA, Québec's largest network and owned by the same kingpins of the Sun Newspaper Group, veterans are not that important to Kory Teneycke and his scribes either -- the item about the ombudsman at Veterans' Affairs not having his term renewed was at the very bottom of the national news items from Wednesday.   If QMI is the official organ of the Conservative Party just as Fox News is of the Republican National Committee, then we know who's dictating policy and determines what should be news.    And not just the QMI outlets -- even independent outlets owned by Con-friendly interests make their allegiances known on-air at great risk to their tax-exempt status.

A sign of things to come?   I hope not.    Even those of us who are Catholic are not subjects of the Vatican but citizens of Canada.    We should owe no allegiances to the head office of any evangelical religion either -- but it seems that there, too, is where a lot of the hare-brained ideas are coming from these days as well.

UPDATE (1:49 PM EDT, 1749 GMT):   Yeah, I know, I misspelt Duplessis' name.  I corrected it.

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james coffin said...

even up today the quebec goverment is still not helping clear dad's name Wilbert Coffin the goverment has sealed the police files and will not open them till the year 2065 are they still hiding things that would clear his name it time we all call for them to open the files and rewrite the history books

BlastFurnace said...

I knew from my earlier school days just how evil Duplessis was but it wasn't until I saw Eddie Greenspan's docudrama about your father that I really reeled. There is no excuse to keep the files sealed ... I would support any effort to open them up.