CALGARY — A group of military veterans is standing up to support Stephen Harper's Conservatives at the tail end of the federal election campaign.
Retired warrant officer Lee Humphrey says he was upset that another veterans group — "Anyone But Conservatives" — claimed to speak on behalf of military personnel when it announced plans in August to campaign against the Conservative leader.
Humphrey, 52, says he believes most who have served in the Canadian Forces are supportive of the Conservative government and he's launched "Veterans For The Conservative Party of Canada" as a result. He said it's important that the "silent majority" have its say.
"I think civilians, non-veterans, hear from these groups that we are all not being treated well and the government's disrespecting us and they're concerned with that. I think that there needs to be another voice out there to counter that message," said Humphrey, who served in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the Canadian Airborne Regiment before retiring in 2002.
"I thought there should be a voice that represents what I believe is the overwhelming number of people who have served and do support the current government."
The chairman of the "Anyone But Conservatives" campaign said in the summer that veterans intended to hold rallies and protests across the country.
Tom Beaver, a former member of the Army who served as a peacekeeper in the 1990s, said he expected protests to be repeated at Conservative campaign stops across the country. He also predicted that veterans wearing their uniforms will be stationed near polls on election day in an effort to dissuade voters from supporting Harper.
Humphrey, who said his group's Facebook page has 3,700 followers, said he is under no illusions that the Conservatives have done a great job. But he feels there have been improvements since Julian Fantino was replaced by Erin O'Toole in Veterans Affairs.
"There have been some high-profile, terrible mistakes, made at the bureaucratic level, but when you look at the government's overall policy on the things most veterans care about ... this party is the best of the three major options."
Humphrey is also critical of the ABC group for its critical attack, while not offering any kind of alternative to the Conservatives.
"I think it's cowardly to hide behind this A as if 'anyone' is some mythical organization that's going to come and save the day," he said.
"People that care about things stand for something and in this case, while we recognize the current Conservative government has some flaws, they are the best of the three primary, federal options for veterans and serving military."
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