Monday, November 21, 2011

O Canada!.... Oh... Canada?????

A symbol of Distress....

"A picture is worth athousand words!"...Thank you Tim!

Cpl Philip Hunter Canadian medic with interpreter/ friend Sayed Shah Sharifi in Afghanistan

I believe that all artists share a common need to "make sense" of the world they live in... and in so doing they see it in an entirely different manner than those around them. Artists usually are are unlike those around them in our two and fro world... who only seem to look, but seem never able to truly "see"... that is to say... understand what is all around them. They are content to live in a "taken-for-granted" existence... blinders on... plodding grudgingly through their uninspired lives.

I find it very strange that very elite (no reference to the artists) in this "blind battalion" are our people in high positions of power... and highest amongst these... our political leaders. On the very day after Remembrance Day... after all of the wreath laying and droning political rhetoric... befitting a funereal setting... Veteran's Affairs here in Canada unveil a plan to reduce the pension benefits by the amount of disability pension a returning (physically or mentally wounded) veteran receives... in some cases leaving soldiers and their families with no income.

In Saturday's edition o\of the The Toronto Star it was reported that Sayed Shah Sharifi, a former Afghan interpreter used the Canadian Forces (then cut loose when we withdrew from the heart of Taliban heartland) has been denied a visa to immigrate to Canada who he served during the conflict. I am... admittedly "a bear of little brain" and of VERY little interest... when it comes to either military or political topics... however, it makes sense perfect sense to me... that this adopted soldier (along with all his family members)... one in our rank and file by choice... will most certainly suffer a deadly, if not horrific end at the hands of the remaining insurgent faction still operating in Afghanistan. He has already been "marked".

You can pack away your poppy Mr Harper... along with your sanctimonious public false face. You can indeed hide behind your desk on Capitol Hill in Ottawa. But how can you sleep at night? How can you ever face another Silver Star Mother with her war-orphaned children and a crowd filled with veterans at a future Remembrance Day Ceremony?... Or attend the funeral of a veteran who has committed suicide... after returning to the "safety" of the homeland that he or she fought for?

How can the government justify the claim ever again... that the reason for Canadian involvement in a conflict abroad... is to guarantee a (Afghan) people freedom and the hope of a better life.... when we can't afford our own returning veterans their due respect... thanks and support from an involvement dictated by politicians and military heads ? It reeks of the worst kind of hypocrisy and is a disgrace to our nation! You offend all veterans deceased or alive... and all Canadians through your callous actions!!!!

I apologize for using the space in this bog, usually devoted to art... to embed this rant. But veterans were just ordinary folk... who gave their all... so that ordinary folk like us could express and share our opinions... so that "We" could have a voice! I join these Canadians to speak on behalf of all veterans... anywhere.

My thanks to Cpl Philip Hunter, an Afghan veteran/ medic himself, for his courage to speak out via The Toronto Star against the government's rejection of his interpreter and friend Sayed Shah Sharifi's (promised) application for immigration and asylum in Canada. My thanks to political cartoonist Tim Dolhigan for granting me permission to use his cartoon in this post. It eloquently supports veteran feelings and certainly my own. It underscores the power of a picture..."to be worth a thousand words!" Thank you Tim! You can visit Tim's web page at .... Great stuff!

If you return to an earlier post this month...November is the Cruelest Month... you will understand my anger... disgust with our government and the reason for my rant. As Canadians... we ALL lost a part of our Selves... each and every time a Hercules aircraft touched down at Trenton Airbase... repatriating the body of one of our fallen 158 young men and women... and their surviving comrades-in-arms. I simply can't... and won't remain silent because.... only the living can speak and act!!

"The torch be yours to hold it high....

If ye break faith with us who died,

We shall not sleep though poppies grow...

On Afghan hills!...

Lest we forget!

Just one Grateful Canadian's's opinion.... and I'll let you, the readers be the judge and jury on whether these opinions are valid... and worth responding to. Do those actions make sense to "You"? I wonder????? If they matter to "You"... take the time to respond... and better still send off your thoughts to the Canadian Veteran's Affairs Minister... and the Minister of Immigration. I intend to do so.

The Honourable (optional) Steven Blaney

Veteran Affairs Canada

14th Floor

66 Slater Street

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0P4

Again... to my followers....sorry for the rant! But as I said earlier... November is always the cruelest month for "Me' personally. Remembrance Day will forever have a "face" for "Me". I shall not forget or be quiet - ever! I do, however... promise a snappy... upbeat painting to salute my American Thanksgiving celebrants' upcoming Turkey n' Football Fest!..."I" promise!

Good Painting... and Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!


  1. Hi Bruce, we had a similar situation with the Gurkhas. They are soldiers from Nepal who have served as a regiment in the British Army. They have fought loyally for our country for over a hundred years, I think, and yet the government was trying to deny them pension and immigration rights. It took a high-profile campaign by a TV celebrity to shame them into changing their mind. The term 'cannon-fodder' springs to mind!

    Only a few days to go until December!

  2. It makes me sick to the core too Bruce. We have similar issues here. At our last election much time was given in political broadcasts to speak of 'our brave young men and women and those who made the ultimate sacrifice' and giving the support that the services needed. Fast family was requested to pay back some of a soldier's wage as he had been overpaid a couple of days money in which he hadn't worked due to his death... (this was apparently a clerical error)... many ex-army living on the streets through lack of support when they return to civilian life... it goes on and on... it's here too. I hope they think again about that poor interpreters visa, it's just outrageous! The short memories of our politians makes my blood boil!

  3. Dear Bruce, I am with you completely in this rant! I have already signed a petition concerning the callous lack of help to Sayed Shah Shareff and have written down the address you gave above to send a letter of protest about this and the cuts in benefits for vets. My Dad, a World War II veteran had to fight for over ten years to get a much needed hearing aid and a small pension from the government (he went totally deaf in the army and only had 3% hearing in one ear later). My mother got a soldier's advocate to fight for them. Without these brave soldiers our freedoms would not exist. My grandfathers were also soldiers, and both my uncles. I have a cousin fighting in the US Army as a Captain now...was wounded in Afghanistan last year. I don't always agree with why our governments send soldiers to fight overseas but those soldiers deserve every benefit and point of respect - they were selfless and brave.

  4. Hi Keith!... Thanks for visiting and sharing your own feelings regarding this injustice... and callous treatment of people who support the cause of freedom on behalf of unfortunate people... outside their own political boudaries!

    The Gurkha example that you cite is a perfect example of this situation from the last Great War. In that same conflict... our Canadian Merchant Marine vets... those same men who braved convoy duty against the German Wolf Packs in the North Atlantic to deliever munitions, troops, vehicles and supplies to troops in Europe were given the same treatment. They have only received their due reconition and pension elgibility within the last couple of years. Most never saw a penny... because they had passed before realization of the governmental change in "protocol."

    "Cannon fodder" - the perfect term Keith!

    Thank you for kicking in your thoughts!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Hi Lisa!... Thanks for joining in this forum for discussion of this seemingly universal injustice towards veterans! Your points really underscore this point... that veterans everywhere really aren't given the respect and gratitude they deserve for placing themselves in harm's way on our behalf.

    Outrageous?.... Yes definitely! A better word comes to mind for me. Immoral! We offer monetary assistance and programme support to new Canadians upon entry into our country... as we should. However, we FIRST owe a moral responsibility to take care of our own needy souls... be they ordinary citizens... or veterans who have served... and earned that right!

    I spent the morning writing letters to our Veteran Affairs'd to our Simcoe County federal MP... and to our Grinch... Mr Harper on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    Not only do they dishonour living vets... they dishonour the memory and sacrifice of all Canadian men and women in all conflicts... like Matthew... who gave their all! I feel it is time for me to speak... using the living voice they no longer have! That is the ultimate "poppy"!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Lisa! I always enjoy our chats!

    Good Painting!... and congtrats on your new gallery opportunity! They will certainly be the better for their choosing!
    Warmest regards,

  6. Hi Karen!... Thank you for sharing your own family experiences in this post. Your views... along with those of others... from different parts of the world underscore the total injustice for our treatment of members of our countries... who put their lives on the line... some even sacrificing them.

    I can never subscribe to the notion of any reason for war... except that some vile individuals and regimes around the globe cannot be silenced without war being waged against them. But when young men and women offer their tomorrows willingly on our behalf... then it becomes the moral responsibility of their country to support their every need both during and after the conflict's resolution.

    We ceratinly have fallen short of what we professed in delivery of this support to both our veterans... and the Afghan people who embraced our being there... and supported our efforts and beliefs.In short... Canada has in my mind... SOLD OUT!... and "I" am ashamed!

    Thanks for visiting.... and for the great points!

    Good luck with your new box series! Sounds intersting!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Somehow I missed this in the news. Completely despicable. Thank you Bruce. I will write.

  8. Hi Kim!... Thanks for visiting!

    It is indeed a deplorable lack of consideration and commitment to Canadian veterans for their service! But it is nothing new... given their treatment following the other conflicts we have engaged our armies in.

    Writing and expressing our disapproval to members of government... as support for veterans in these matters is somehow in my own thinking at least... like wearing a poppy... during one week a year. It is a gesture of respect and thanks... beyond what society dictates is "sufficient."

    I hope that you... and others will write Kim. It costs so little time and effort to share... and show gratitude!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,