For his next trick Trudeau will handout payments to the American draft dodgers.
When pressed about the issue on the Senate floor Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he understood Canadians’ “concerns” about the $10.5 million payout to Omar Khadr. “In fact,” he added, “I share those concerns about the money; that’s why we settled.” But to the thousands of men and women who have served in Canada’s military, their concerns go far beyond the simple dollar amount.
Many veterans and their families are not happy about the Khadr settlement — that much is obvious. But in the climate of vicious and partisan name-calling that seems to accompany all things Khadr, veterans’ reactions are being unfairly dismissed as little more than conservative barking. (In fact, while the military and its veterans traditionally have been the natural constituents of the right, that largely changed during the last federal election.)
Fighting for benefits
At the core of the issue is benefits — specifically, the grueling adventure race veterans have to endure to plead for their parsimonious assistance. Certainly Khadr had to fight for years for justice. Veterans, likewise, often have to fight years — and often decades — to receive their benefits.
Khadr sued the Canadian government for mistreatment and violations of his rights. Veterans are barred from suing government for mistreatment when seeking benefits. What’s more, veterans are limited to using the military’s rotten veterans tribunal system, one that provides “free” lawyers employed by the very department from which veterans are trying to seek benefits.
Legal settlements in Canada do not fall under taxable income, therefore Khadr will pay no tax on his $10.5 million. But ever since Ottawa replaced lifetime pensions for wounded veterans with one-time lump sums, 95 per cent of the benefits received by severely injured veterans and their survivors is now taxable. The court case to return to lifelong pensions continues for its fifth year, even though Trudeau promised to end court cases against veterans and return to lifelong pensions.
To prove permanent disability, Canadian veterans must make humiliating annual declarations that they are still missing their legs, or that their minds and spirits continue to be devoured by the lingering trauma of war. Should the most injured attempt some part-time employment for a more meaningful life, the government deducts every dollar earned. Indeed, the government already deducts pension, CPP disability, OAS and GIS from veterans’ benefits. Khadr, on the other hand, gets to keep every cent of his settlement.