Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sean Bruyea Interview on the Challenges Facing Canadian Veterans


Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, interviews Mr. Sean Bruyea, former Canadian Forces Air Force captain and 14 year veteran advocate, on Canadian veterans and the challenges facing them. Sean discusses the short history of veteran advocacy in Canada. He makes clear that the major issues facing Canadian veterans are the arrogance of the Canadian federal bureaucracy, and political hypocrisy regarding veteran rights and issues. Sean says that veterans have sacrificed their lives and families for Canadian basic rights and freedoms, and therefore, Canadians have an obligation to stand up for veterans against the Canadian bureaucracy and politicians. Not only that, many veterans need the support of the Canadian public because many veterans are not university educated and/or in a position emotionally and physically to fight the federal government. These fights are troubling especially in consideration of Sean himself, who faced a major breach of privacy against him by the federal government in order to silence him and discredit his advocacy work for veterans. Sean and other veterans will be presenting at the FDA’s Forum 4 Veterans on November 27, 2013 at Mount Royal University. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

FDA RSS Feed

FDA Podcasts on Itunes

FDA Veterans Report and November 27, 2013 Forum 4 Veterans


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brian Bradley a Canadian Hero

Brian Bradley is one of potentially thousands of Canadian veterans who have been injured while serving this country, and who are denied a disability pension/award from the federal government. He has fought the federal government for seventeen years, and continues fight this war.

Excerpt from the FDA's Brian Bradley Case Study and Process Review of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB)

"Brian's struggle is unique, as illustrated by the fact that only an average of 0.42 percent of veterans from 2009 to 2013 who received an unfavourable VRAB appeal decision takes the decision to the Federal Court for judicial review. Brian’s perseverance for what he perceives as his rightful disability pension according to the legislation has helped a number of veterans by establishing legal precedence in the Federal Court for how to interpret the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act, Pension Act, and other Acts. In addition, Brian’s determination has helped to expose the VRAB's partisanship and inadequacies, and the hypocrisy of federal politicians who declare an obligation to injured and/or disabled veterans but do not fulfill that declaration in practice.

The FDA believes Brian is a Canadian hero in the sense that during a time of personal struggle lasting seventeen years and at significant financial and personal sacrifice, he has helped to advance the interests of veterans and Canadians by exposing the inadequacy and disregard of the VRAB and the federal government regarding thousands of injured and/or disabled veterans. Brian continues to serve this country.

Equally important, Brian has helped to expose severe deficiencies in the federal government itself. These deficiencies are comprised of the self-interest approach of elected officials including the Prime Minister as characterized by the system of patronage appointments and gross mismanagement of federal government departments and institutions such as the VRAB. The FDA believes the government’s system of patronage appointments is doing a disservice to veterans and Canadians as a whole because potentially, the most qualified and experienced persons are not getting into the government public service positions. Additionally, the independence of government institutions like the VRAB and Veterans Ombudsman Office are compromised by partisan appointments. For example, the former Veterans Ombudsman, Colonial Pat Stogran, had his reappointment not renewed by the Prime Minister. Colonial Stogran was outspoken about the shortcomings of the VRAB and Veterans Affairs Canada towards injured and/or disabled veterans (Sullivan, 2012).

Further, using its expertise in international and Canadian democracy and government, the FDA believes Brian has helped expose underlying issues that are threatening Canadian democracy. The FDA has been exposed to democratic decline in various countries in which elected officials usurp the sovereign political authority of the people, while at the same time rhetorically promote democracy. For example, the United States is dominated by two federal political parties which combat each other, but at the same time work together for their bipartisan benefit, and at the expense of other federal parties and ultimately the American people. The 2012 FDA report on the American Federal Electoral System shows a system significantly biased to the two major political parties. Canada has very similar democratic issues in which Canadian federal politicians through a political establishment of three major parties have a biased and unfair grip on federal politics. Although these parties are combative, they all represent the political status quo. This status quo or lock on Canadian federal political power is undermining Canadian democracy. The 2013 FDA Report on the Canadian Federal Electoral System shows a system characterized by a series of legislative bias to these major parties.

The electoral system is critical, because it is the principle means for political power, barring undemocratic systems of government. If the electoral system is deficient and unfair, like in Canada and the United States, then it will produce election outcomes that are inconsistent with the voice of the people. This reality in-of-itself undermines democracy. As evidenced by the VRAB and its context in the federal government, Canadian federal elected officials through their patronage system, mismanagement and other issues are acting contrary to the broad public good. This raises the question as to how these people are getting into power in the first place. Unfortunately, in Canada at the federal level of government, the elected officials with control of the Parliament determine the election laws. So Canadians face significant obstacles to reclaim their democracy.

Brian Bradley has provided a way forward for Canadians: resiliency and perseverance against systems of government and conduct of politicians he did not sacrifice his life for. If all Canadians follow Brian’s heroic example of standing up for this country from internal decline, then the future of this country would be in good stead."

FDA's Veterans Report

FDA Public Forum For Injured/Disabled Veterans

2013 FDA Report on the Canadian Federal Electoral System 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

FDA's Brian Bradley Case Study and Process Review of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board



Executive Summary

Building off Veterans Ombudsman reports and other reports which support systematic change to the federal government process involving injured and/or disabled veterans, the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) examines closely the federal government veteran processes. Through that examination, the FDA uncovers serve deficiencies which compromise the federal government’s service to injured and/or disabled veterans and ultimately its obligation to Canadians in the Canadian Forces and Royal Mounted Police who put their lives at risk to protect this country. In particular, the FDA documents a system of patronage appointments, mismanagement of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB), and a veterans review and appeal process defined significantly by unreasonable interpretation and application of relevant Acts of Parliament. Using its expertise in democracy and government, the FDA believes that these deficiencies stem from a failure of Canadian democracy and shortcomings in the Canadian federal electoral system. The FDA uncovers evidence that elected officials including the Prime Minister are putting their self-interests above the interests of injured and/or disabled veterans and Canadians as a whole. The Brian Bradley case study, an ongoing egregious seventeen-year legal struggle in which Brian battles for just care for his spinal cord injury, shows that the deficiencies with the VRAB and failings of the federal government have gone on far too long. The FDA recommends a number of reforms, including the elimination of the VRAB and delegation of its responsibilities and duties to the Federal Court, implementation of a non-partisan federal government appointment system, and correction of biases and unfairness in the federal electoral system to help ensure that representatives who represent the broad public good are elected.

"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost." - Aristotle



Friday, November 8, 2013

FDA Public Forum on Injured and/or Disabled CDN Veterans. Get Informed and Share.



At the forum, the FDA will have guest speaker Mr. Sean Bruyea, former Canadian Forces captain and 10-year veterans advocate. In addition, among other things, there will be injured and/or disabled veterans who will share their stories, and an excerpt from the Canadian documentary "Broken Soldiers" will be shown. The forum is an opportunity to learn about issues that affect all Canadians and share openly your thoughts and feelings about the issues facing Canadian veterans and Canada's democracy.

Forum sponsored by the Foundation for Democratic Advancement and Mount Royal University, Faculty of Communication Studies

Tweeter hashtag: #forum4vets

For more information on the November 27, 2013, please email info @ democracychange.org