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Amy MacPherson

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Is This Politician Insulting War Vets?

Posted: 11/11/2012 7:59 pm

Remembrance Day Canada 2012
CP

It all began when Conservative MP Bev Oda resigned her position with the Harper government. The disgraced Minister of International Cooperation was responsible for a series of scandals that including being the first sitting cabinet minister to be found in contempt of Parliament, extravagant use of taxpayer dollars and repeat performances defying the law by smoking in her parliamentary office. Her eventual departure from politics spawned a by-election in the Ontario riding of Durham and all eyes across the nation are now fixed on the candidates vying to become her replacement.

Campaigns kicked into high gear for this second chance to win the public's support and federal Liberal Grant Humes has managed to generate controversy amidst the excitement. As his election sign was revealed on social media leading up to Remembrance Day, it generated negative responses from veteran families the candidate wasn't expecting.

2012-11-10-LIBsign0022.jpg

(photo credit: provided by Humes campaign manager, Quito Maggi)

Facebook followers of the campaign page shared their criticisms ranging from "offensive" to "publicity stunt," "classless" and "shameless as stealing a poppy box." A concerned Afghanistan vet voiced disapproval and others indicated they would not vote for Humes as a result of this material.

Part of the problem was confusion about the sign itself. The candidate's name does not appear and it seems to be an invitation to a patriotic website in support of veterans. Upon arrival at Durham4Vets.org, visitors are greeted by press clippings regarding veterans' issues, followed by Grant Humes' reasons for seeking office and a bit about his work history.

Clicking the petition displays a form to collect personal information, requests a $20 contribution toward the veterans awareness campaign and support for "sound National Policy" -- although there is no petition.

In the same navigation bar clicking the "donate" option will cause a different box to appear; this time displaying the candidate's Liberal Party of Canada donation page pertaining to the by-election.

To clarify, I contacted Humes and he put me in touch with campaign manager Quito Maggi to respond on his behalf. By telephone and follow up email exchange, Maggi explained the purpose of the site and how it relates to the by-election. I also learned animal cruelty is an issue dear to the candidate's heart and a similar venture was set up to address those matters at StopTheCruelty.org. Both endeavours are authorized as part of the Grant Humes Liberal campaign, but some donations are separate for advocacy about the featured issue at each website. Manager Maggi elaborates,

"Any money raised through the Durham4Vets.org website goes right back into the public awareness campaign (and) yes the money raised from the animal cruelty campaign goes towards keeping that website active and paying for magnets that have been designed (a number have already been produced and distributed)."

When asked about support for these projects, the campaign cited intimidation from the Harper government as a reason veteran groups were afraid to speak up. As a result there were no official endorsements of Humes' initiatives to report. Regarding the websites and their strategy to educate with continued monetary support; the candidate said he planned to establish veterans and animal advocacy prior to any knowledge of an election. Maggi affirms,

"The websites were registered before the writ was dropped (on October 21) and there was no way for us to know when the writ would be dropped.

(Referencing veteran website advertising on election signs,)

"If we could keep the signs up after the election we would, but the sign bylaws are very strict."

StopTheCruelty.org and Durham4Vets.org are collecting funds through Liberal party mechanisms in the meantime. Whether a by-election campaign or public awareness for cherished issues, this confusion could result in consequences for those who are unable to tell the difference. The timing of a federal election coinciding with the candidate's project is reported to be incidental, but surely they should be kept apart for the public to perceive ethics in politics.

The last word is offered by Grant Humes who summarized,

"It's important we respect our Veterans and give them the benefits they deserve. What the government is doing is wrong and I hope people will add their voice and call on the government to take action."

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  • A member of the armed forces forms inspects wreaths ahead of a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • People gather around the war monument during a Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown St. John's, NL, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • Veterans salute as they take part in the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

  • The Canadian flag is lowered to half mast during a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks with Hong Kong Veteran Arthur Kenneth Pifher, 91, of Grimsby, Ont., as they take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong on Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • A wreath sits infront of a military gravestone in the National Military cemetary in Ottawa, Friday November 9, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • Service medals are seen on Australian retired General Peter Congrove, of NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council Chair, during the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the cenotaph in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A woman places a poppy flower on the cenotaph during Remembrance Day in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Israeli soldier stands in front of a wall of names memorial to fallen soldiers at the Armored Corps memorial, following a ceremony to mark Remembrance Day, or Memorial Day at Latrun Junction, near Jerusalem on April 25, 2012. Remembrance Day is followed immediately by the 61st anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

  • King Albert II of Belgium salutes during the commemoration of World War I (1914-1918), commonly known as Remembrance Day, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Brussels, on November 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meets with New Zealand war veteran Staff Sgt Kirsty Meynell after the Armistice Day Commemoration at the Auckland War Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple are in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Ross Setford-Pool/Getty Images)

  • A US citizen carries wreath as he walks past walls where 36,286 names of missing are inscribed at the US cemetery and memorial during the Veterans Day memorial in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 Americans who died in the Pacific, China,India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greets war veterans and members of the public following Armistice Day commemorations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple have arrived in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

  • A US soldier carrying the US national flag stands at attention during the Veteran's Day commemoration at the US cemetery in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 US citizens who died in the Pacific, China, India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Chelsea Pensioners march past the Cenotaph during Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall, Central London, on November 11, 2012. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since World War I. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FORT WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: Servicemen and women join veterans as they attend a remembrance Sunday ceremony at Commando Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Spean Bridge, Scotland. Remembrance Sunday tributes were carried out across the nation to pay respects to all who those who lost their lives in current and past conflicts, including the First and Second World War . (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 11: King Albert II of Belgium meets with war veterans during a tribute to the unknown soldier on November 11, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

 

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