Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr lays a wreath during the Battle of the Atlantic memorial services on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, May 1, 2016. (Photo: Patrick Doyle/CP)Don Sorochan, the lawyer for the soldiers, says those changes — along with new measures introduced in the Liberal budget and the promise of a return to the lifetime pension — may be enough for them to drop the case.
"We told the minister that we didn't need another Rotary Club meeting where he goes around and shakes hands and says how nice everybody is."After being sworn in last November, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr was ordered, in writing, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to implement the Liberals' campaign promises and Sorochan says the measures outlined in the mandate letter satisfy the grievances of his clients. The Liberal budget poured $5.6 billion into veterans programs over six years, but it did not restore lifetime pensions. Since there are thousands of veterans who come under the umbrella of the new system, Sorochan says it's only natural that the government is trying to figure out how to straighten out the system in a way that's fair to everybody.
Grits did not restore lifetime pensions"My guys are quite happy with the way it is going," Sorochan said, referring to both the regulatory changes and the amount of consultation federal officials have done with the ex-soldiers. Indeed, Trudeau's commitment to wounded soldiers was on full display Monday in Toronto as he joined Prince Harry for events marking the countdown to the 2017 Invictus Games. He underlined the government's recent commitments "Our soldiers deserve the greatest attention and much compassion from their nation," Trudeau said. "They embody the best of the Canadian identity and have won our respect and our gratitude forever."
Lawsuit caused trouble for ToriesAside from embarrassing Conservatives among their core political constituency, the way federal lawyers defended the lawsuit three years ago caused enormous political damage. Their statement of defence made clear that the federal government believed it had no special obligation to soldiers and that promises of care for the wounded, dating back to the First World War, were political statements not binding on present or future governments. Sorochan says the language has since been modified, but he believes the debate strikes at the heart of the Constitution in the sense that it would be impossible for a nation to raise a citizen's army during war — or even a peacetime volunteer force — without some kind of assurance that the wounded and the families of the fallen would receive special attention.
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