Ottawa's legal manoeuvre on veterans benefits called 'a betrayal'
The federal government is taking veterans back to court to try to block certain benefits for injured and wounded soldiers, despite a Liberal campaign promise to better support them after an era of Conservative cuts.
"It's a betrayal," said Donald Sorochan, the lawyer representing the six Afghan war veterans who initiated a class-action lawsuit over pensions and other benefits. "They have turned the Liberal election campaign into a lie. I sat at tables [during the campaign] with some of the people who are now in cabinet. Those ministers have been turned into liars by the Department of Justice," he said Tuesday, noting the election platform explicitly promised that no veteran would have to "fight the government" for the support and compensation they have earned.
The plaintiffs agreed to drop their lawsuit if the government provided timetables for implementing Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr's mandate letter, which included pensions for injured veterans among other key promises. But Hehr has so far been frustratingly noncommittal as to the schedule of some of his top priorities, Sorochan said.
Although no timeline had been given in the platform to re-establish this benefit for veterans, the platform also did mention on the same page (49) that the Liberals "will ensure that no veteran has to fight the government" for such benefits. It would appear the Department of Veterans Affairs effectively broke that promise by letting the Department of Justice resume the lawsuit against the six Afghan war veterans in the B.C. Court of Appeals on May 15, 2016.