NDP Leader Meets With Veterans

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair meeting with veterans in Amherstburg, August 21 2014. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle.)

A thank you card from the federal government to more job programs and greater access to pensions: just some of the suggestions to come out of a town hall meeting in Amherstburg between veterans and federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Mulcair told the crowd of 50 at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 157 if elected, his party would reopen nine veteran affairs offices closed earlier this year, and open more if necessary.

Many veterans complained of a government that appeared to enjoy using veterans in a photo op, but did little to help those same veterans should they suffer medical complications.

Vietnam veteran Mike Lepine works with younger veterans struggling to transition back into civilian life. “When you take a veteran that is suffering, and he has to pick up a phone to talk to someone on the east coast, or Quebec, or on the west coast… can’t go to an office, so he can talk to someone hands on… push one for this and push three for that… by the time 20 minutes goes by that person is frustrated. They hang the phone up, and they deal with their issues the best that they can,” he says. “And when they fall down, hopefully there’s someone there to pick them up. But if there isn’t, they fall through the cracks.”

Mulcair blames the Harper government for cutting $200-million from the Department of Veterans Affairs since it took office. He told the audience Canada has the programs to take care of veterans, but what’s needed is a change in corporate culture.