Ottawa—When faced with a chance to demonstrate real support for our pensioned veterans and members of the RCMP last night in parliament, the Conservatives showed their true colours by voting down Bill C-201— legislation introduced by NDP MP Peter Stoffer that would have corrected an administrative error that denied thousands of Canadians their full pension rights.

London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen, who has been fighting to keep beds open at Parkwood Hospital by expanding the mandate for Veteran’s Hospitals to serve Canadian Forces personnel and RCMP officers who have served overseas since the Korean War called the Conservative record of voting against veterans and retired RCMP officers a disgraceful slap in the face to those who have served our country.

“The Conservatives try to wrap themselves in the flag and hide behind our troops every time legitimate questions are asked about Afghanistan. Really supporting our troops doesn’t mean using them as a political shield and then discarding them afterward,” said Mathyssen, “Really supporting our troops would mean making sure their families aren’t turning to food banks, that our veterans receive the full pension benefits they were promised and are entitled to, and ensuring that both short and long term healthcare is available for them through Canada’s Veterans Hospitals.”

Mathyssen said the vote also demonstrates the contempt the Conservatives have for our police forces as well.

“The Harper Conservatives talk tough with their law and order agenda, but then fail to follow through. They use the police for photo-ops and hyperbola to support their ideologically driven agenda, such as the Justice Minister’s renewed push for mandatory minimum sentencing on marijuana offences. However, they ignore police when the police disagree with the government’s ideology. In fact last month Garry Breitkreuz, a Conservative MP from Saskatchewan, issued a press release calling the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police a ‘cult’ because the association supports the gun registry,” Mathyssen said. “I have great respect for our police and our Canadian Forces Veterans, I have no respect for the way this government uses the members for their own political purposes.

Bill C-201 had the support of several veterans groups, including the Royal Canadian Legion (500,000 members), the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada Association (20,000 members), and the Air Force Association in Canada (12,000 members), all of which unanimously adopted resolutions in 2006 supporting this initiative. It also received support from the Armed Forces Pensioner’s Association, CARP (Canada’s Association for the 50 plus), and over 110,000 individual Canadians from across the country that signed a petition supporting the Bill.