Anthony Rota, former Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming and current federal Liberal candidate issued the following statement today:
"As a Canadian and as a person who travelled to Afghanistan twice to support our troops, I am appalled and disgusted by the shameful attitude of the Harper Conservatives towards our veterans and their families. These men and women have sacrificed so much for us and we have a sacred obligation to provide for their physical and mental health needs in an effective and timely manner.
It is time for all of us, including our Member of Parliament, to stand up and to speak out in support of our veterans and against the shoddy treatment of those who have done so much to protect us and our freedoms.
We have all witnessed the bluster, disrespect and bullying tactics that the current Veterans Affairs Minister has demonstrated towards our veterans. We have seen the closing of 9 regional Veterans' Affairs offices across Canada, the departmental budget has been slashed, and over 160 client service agents have been let go; the very agents that service our WWII and Korean veterans. Meanwhile disabled veterans are being deprived of the pensions they deserve.
Recent events continue to show us how far the situation has deteriorated.
First of all, it was reported that Veterans Affairs has left $1.1 billion unspent since the Harper Conservatives came to power - money that was supposed to fund services for our veterans and their families. But during this same period, the Conservative government has used $750 million of taxpayers' money on advertising and self-promotion.
Then, the Auditor General issued his Fall Report and stated, in effect, that the Harper Conservatives are unwilling or incapable of delivering what it takes to provide the care that our veterans require. This happened just as Canadians were becoming aware of the sad and tragic reality that the number of returned Afghanistan veterans who have taken their own lives is now equal to the number who were lost in battle.
And finally, in an attempt to pre-emptively limit the negative impact of the Auditor General's report, the Harper Conservatives announced they would spend an additional 200 million dollars over the next 6 years on veterans' mental health issues. This was welcomed and applauded right across the country. Within days however, it was revealed that the money will in fact be spent over the next 50 years-not the next 6 years. What an insult-what a tragedy!
We need to stand up and speak out for our veterans and their families. In this time of great need, silence is not an option for any Member of Parliament.
Leader Justin Trudeau and his Liberal team believe we have a sacred obligation to those who serve and their families, and our priority is ensuring that our Canadian Armed Forces and veterans have nothing less than the best of care and support from a grateful nation.
Please visit my website at anthonyrota.ca for further information.