By Les Peate
In keeping with the tradition of naming geographical features after fallen service men and women, Saskatchewan has named three lakes in memory of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. Goddard Lake commemorates Captain Nichola Goddard, RCHA, who died in a firefight in May 2006. Two PPCLI members are also remembered: Cpl Jordan Anderson, who was killed in July 2007, and MCpl Byron Anderson, who was killed in October 2011.
Previous honourees this year included: Alfred Blair (1 Cdn Para Bn), Willmit Willows (Calgary Highlanders), and Judy-Ann McKenzie (RCAF).
Let them Stay
I promised a while back that when I received a copy of Let Them Stay: U.S. War Resisters in Canada, edited by Sarah Hipworth and Luke Stewart and published by Iguana Books, I would review it impartially. First off, whatever my own views, I must admit that the book does present a case for permitting these individuals to remain in Canada.
The book is more or less divided into three sections: the stories of the deserters (aka war resisters), the political campaign, and the legal aspects. The individual stories are sometimes provided by the resisters themselves, sometimes by other writers, and often by both. In some cases they appear to be quite likeable people; some of them I would be happy to share a beer with.
At times, however, there is some loss of continuity; the sanctuary-seeker’s story is often interrupted by letters of support, often on general, rather than individual, concerns. “Methinks thou doth protest too much!” There are so many of these that they lose their impact. That’s rather a pity; they are well written and I can only suggest that they were selections from various sources at different times and a co-ordinated effort would be difficult. The signatories include many prominent Canadians.
There were several prominent themes: Was the Iraq War justified? Were these individuals right in their claim that they were under illegal orders? Were they or were they not criminals and thus inadmissible to Canada? Were they “refugees” as defined by the Act? If they are returned to the U.S. will they face cruel, excessive and unjust punishment?
The “political” essays state their cases well. The reports of legal proceedings, perhaps naturally, contain carefully selected court excerpts in favour of the applicants. (An exception is a report of the hearing on Jeremy Hintzman, which presents both arguments.)
Readers know my views; I’ll put my side forward next month. In the interest of fairness, however, I will say this book is worth reading. Let Them Stay: U.S. War Resisters in Canada 2004-2016, edited by Sarah Hipworth and Luke Stewart, published by Iguana Press. ISBN 978-1-77180-104-1. Paperback $32.50.
From Veterans Affairs
First, welcome to Marc Lescoutre, who is replacing Janice Summerby as my fount of VAC information.
A number of worthy Canadians have received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for their work on behalf of veterans. From Nova Scotia, recipients are Darryl Cook (Bridgewater), Arnold Garron (Yarmouth), George Wesley Grant (Lawrencetown), Debbie Lowther (Dartmouth), Joseph Savoy (Sydney), and Michael Simmonds (Pictou). From New Brunswick: Carl Scovil Brown (Hampton) and Edward A. Olsen (Beaverbrook).
In Manitoba, awards were conferred on Archie Landry, of Brandon, and Winnipeggers David Atwell, Walter Delipper, Randi Gage, Gordon Keatch, Harry Lee, Lois Mader, Barry Marchand, Marjorie Martin, Arthur and Kathleen McKinnon and William Tait.
The Hon. Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs, states: “The individuals recognized provide immeasurable contributions to the well being of Canada’s Veterans. I applaud their dedication and devotion in proudly serving our veterans. Their work allows veterans to receive the greatest degree of care, compassion and respect possible.”
The annual report of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board has been released. It seems to be something of an improvement. One of my concerns appears to be somewhat rectified: there are more military and RCMP veterans on the board and the chairman, Thomas Jermyn, is a veteran.
In 2014-15 the Board reviewed 2,729 cases with a 49 per cent favourable return and 1,039 appeals, with 43 per cent resolved in the appellant’s favour. Estimated processing time is still fairly high, with reviews averaging 28 weeks and appeals 18. In view of the age of many veterans, the Board is attempting to “speed up” cases of Second World War and Korea War veterans.
Four Veterans Affairs offices are due to reopen shortly in Brandon, MB (October); in Saskatoon, SK (November); in Thunder Bay and Windsor, ON (both early next year). The department will hire or re-hire an additional 400 staff, and has set a target of a caseload of no more than 25 clients for each case manager.
The Legion Answers Back
Dave Flannigan, the newly elected Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion (and a veteran!), has found it necessary to refute a number of adverse reports on Legion activities, including that PTSD sufferers must pay for Legion assistance. False! Any veteran — Legion member or not — is eligible for the services of the Legion Service Bureau and its officers without charge, regardless of the nature of the disability. Legion members, if they wish, may join the OSI Special Section, which provides reaching and assistance to affected members and families and helps de-stigmatize and promote research for PTSD victims. A similar Special Section (autonomous and separate) has existed for tuberculosis since 1925. Membership dues for the Special Section are in addition to Branch dues. A Section President has been appointed and more details will be out shortly. Meanwhile, you can Google “Royal Canadian Legion OSI Section” for further details.
Criticism has been levied concerning the apparent secrecy of Legion travel and other expenses. I’m not a fiscal expert, and maybe I’m a little naive about these matters, but I found that the “Resources and Resolutions” document circulated to all Legion branches prior to the convention contained a full and detailed account of where our dollars were going. Admittedly, individual head office salaries were not given, but the total amount of salaries and benefits were there. I respect the privacy of Secretary Brad White and his staff; I have visited the offices frequently and have yet to see the parking lot filled with luxury vehicles.
One allegation I heard was that a 120-passenger cruise led by the former president was paid for by Legion funds. Not so! Passengers paid their own way; the event was advertised in the Legion Magazine. Tom Eagles’ trip, as “host,” was paid for by the sponsor, a frequent practice on theme cruises. To learn more, contact www.legion.ca/resources/.
Some people complained that Poppy Fund proceeds were used to support the Invictus Games for disabled veterans. At the risk of receiving negative mail (and I do welcome letters from people who disagree with me; I’m not infallible), I must support the Legion on this one. The $500,000 falls within the parameters of “training, education and support of veterans,” one of the Fund’s objectives.
My final point didn’t hit the press, but resulted in literally dozens of e-mails in circulation. For months, there have been demands for a “Canadian Military Volunteer Medal,” to recognize a year or so of military service. I’ve given my ten cents worth on this topic before. It seems that many supporters have their knickers in a twist because the Legion apparently refuses to support them. This was a communication failure. In fact, the appropriate committee voted for “non-compliance” with the request. Unfortunately, many recipients of the report thought this was a final decision, when in fact, during the Legion convention, the matter was voted on under the “’bringing up non-complied motions” rules, and passed.
Finally, the National Executive has a little more veteran presence. The president and first vice-president are both regular force vets and three more members have a substantial amount of reserve service.
On July 31, a commemorative ceremony honouring the nine Canadian sailors who lost their lives in the Korean War was conducted at the Korean War Naval Memorial in Burlington, Ontario. Eight Canadian destroyers and 3,621 officers and men took part in the war. A number of dignitaries were present and messages were received from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Following the ceremony, guests viewed the movie Northern Limit Line, describing a battle between North and South Korean vessels — in 2002! The film is accessible on www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IYnBYSsqy0. (Thanks Hoojung Jones.)
Where are the destroyers? A report indicates that all six of the Royal Navy’s D-class destroyers are in harbour for refit or repairs. Canada’s sole destroyer, HMCS Athabaskan, is due to be taken out of service in spring 2016. This will mean that Canada’s frigates will have to depend on allies for long-range air defence.
The First RCAF Casualties
I recently came across a website called VintageWings.ca and was impressed by the article “Lost in the Wilds.” It was a fascinating story. At the start of the Second World War, Canada’s coastal air defence depended mainly on vintage, but rugged, Supermarine Stranraer biplane flying boats. To augment these, a number of Northrop Delta aircraft were taken off photo mapping duties and despatched to the East Coast. One of these was lost passing over New Brunswick and the pilot, W.O. Doan, and his passenger, Cpl Rennie, became the first Canadian airmen to lose their lives in the war.
For these and other stories contact Vintage Wings at email@example.com.
Calling “Don R’s”
The Canadian Military Communications & Electronics Network is holding a “Despatch Riders Day” in Kingston on September 10, from 10:00 am — 5:00 pm. All past and present despatch riders and motorcycle enthusiasts are welcome. Bring your bikes and other memorabilia if you wish. (The announcement I received shows the old RC Sigs renowned display team performing with a 15-man pyramid, on five bikes. Awesome!) Details from Sandra.Walsh@forces.gc.ca.