Today I’m blogging about Conservative political patronage within the Veterans Review and Appeal Board – this is important to all Canadians because Federal Tribunals and Boards regulate many aspects of our lives.
The Veteran Review and Appeal Board is the “gateway” to veteran benefits and services. At any time, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board consists of 20-40 patronage appointees, 80-100 support staff, and costs the Canadian taxpayer approximately $11 Million per year.
We know from the Parliamentary Committee, the Office of the Veteran Ombudsman, and my own research, that Veterans Review and Appeal Board is unfairly denying access to benefits and services to veterans and their families.
The Canadian taxpayer is paying for a federal tribunal that:
- Trivializes medical evidence and professionals,
- Continuously errs in procedural fairness.
- Board members’ bias runs rampant and
- Ignores law. An example is the unequal application of Sections 3 and 39 of the Act.
Nine years ago the Conservative Party of Canada promised veterans better access to benefits and services. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have not met that promise. In fact, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, with its 20-40 patronage appointments, continue to fail veterans by delaying or denying claims.
I’ve attached a Conservative Party of Canada “Backgrounder” dated Dec 28, 2005. On page six, the Conservative Party of Canada rightfully hammers the Liberal Party for its use of patronage appointments and clearly blames the failures of the Board on patronage.
The Backgrounder reads:
“We will fix the Veterans Review and Appeal Board – which has been tainted by Liberal patronage – by appointing qualified medical, military and veteran members who are capable of adjudicating appeals on an informed basis rather than a political basis.”
“On Oct. 26, 2011, Duffy logs a lunch in the parliamentary restaurant with Island Conservative Leo Walsh “who wants wife reappointed to VRAB [Veteran’s Review and Appeal Board].”
The Conservatives have no intention of changing Veterans Review and Appeal Board. Instead, Minister O’Toole has stated that Veteran Affairs will now use a Rapid Evidence-Based Adjudication process. Essentially this is the same process the Liberal’s used over 10 years ago. Either the Minister is admitting the Liberals were right or he protecting 20-40 patronage appointments. In either case there is no substantial change to Veterans Review and Appeal Board adjudications, trainers, or operations.
Patronage continues to undermine veterans and their families by denying and delaying access to benefits or services. We have blogged about this before. To prove this point, I suggest you read about two widows – Dawn Collins and Natasha Mohr – these two ladies have been denied benefits and services they are entitled to.
- I encourage these widows to tell their story;
- I encourage ALL veterans to rally to the aid of widows and children;
- I encourage the all politicians to listen and learn,
- But most of all, I encourage the Canadian public to support these ladies.
In closing, I’ll return to the beginning:
Veterans’ issues are the litmus test for the rest of society. Veterans are fighting for the very things that the average Canadian is concerned about: access to pensions, healthcare, the application and the rule of law. What can be taken from veterans can be taken from the public in general.