Letter to the Editor in regard to C-217

On November 6th, a letter in the London Free Press criticized New Democrats for not supporting Private Member's Bill C-217.  I promptly responded and set the record straight, as it is important to me that my constituents, and indeed all Canadians, have all the facts. Both letters, as titled and published by the London Free Press follow:

November 7, 2012

NDP defends vet rights

In response to the letter Lack of NDP support for Bill C-217 decried (Nov. 6), I am aware of incidents across the country over the past several years where war memorials were vandalized.

New Democrats condemn these disrespectful actions towards war memorials and monuments. However, C-217 is an empty legislative gesture, not real and tangible support for veterans and CF personnel. The truth is current provisions of Section 430 of the Criminal Code already deal with the destruction and defacing of property, including war memorials and monuments. The best way to honour those who have served our country and have made the ultimate sacrifice, is to ensure that those veterans still with us, as well as serving Canadian Forces members, have the support they need to live with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Canada has a long way to go to make this happen. The current Conservative government has been making cuts to Veterans Affairs, jeopardizing services our veterans depend on. Nearly 70% of applications for funeral assistance for low income veterans are denied. Veterans from post Korean War action are not eligible for admittance to long-term care beds in facilities such as London’s Parkwood Veterans Hospital, and injured veterans are not provided adequate disability pensions.

The NDP condemns the government’s actions and will continue to fight for our veterans every step of the way. We acknowledge and appreciate the hard work of people in communities throughout Canada who have ensured those who served and sacrificed on behalf of all Canadians are honoured and that their memory is preserved. I have been a part of that effort, with the “Flag Tribute” on Veterans Memorial Parkway, and through working with local Royal Canadian Legion branches. And I will continue that work, through real and meaningful action.

Irene Mathyssen

Member of Parliament for London-Fanshawe

Nov 6, 2012

Lack of NDP support for Bill C-217 decried

In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, Canadians across the country will take time to remember the sacrifices made by those who selflessly served our country in defence of our core values and freedoms.

On Oct. 31, members of Parliament voted on Bill C-217, an Act that would protect war memorials and cenotaphs in Canada.

I am concerned with the decision of Thomas Mulclair and the NDP MPs to vote against penalties for those who intentionally defile permanent tributes to Canada’s fallen heroes.

It is disgraceful that the critic for Veterans Affairs, our local MP Irene Mathyssen, and the NDP party did not support this legislation.

William Lane