John McCallum, Art Eggleton, and David Pratt

They voted it down

Nanaimo, B.C. - Wednesday, November 6, 2002 - by: W. J. Bill McCullough


I think we are all liable and just maybe entitled to a little cynicism about politicians; whatever their ilk, whatever constituency and whatever level of government they may represent. They rarely measure up to even our most modest expectations of them.




Credibility was, however, stretched to and beyond its limits by the performance November 5th in the House of Commons by John McCallum, Minister of National Defence (MND); Art Eggleton, a former Minister of National Defence; and, David Pratt, the current Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence & Veterans Affairs (SCONDA). All three members rose in their places to vote against a motion calling on Government to allocate some additional necessary spending to Canada's national defence.




The resolution was a general one. It evidently did not include any particular dollar figure and was, therefore, more a general statement of intention, rather than a specific budget proposal. Support for it, and, indeed, its passage, would not have been a threat to the life of this Government or to its existing budget.


Notwithstanding that Mr. McCallum himself recently and publicly called for just such an increase in spending, while Mr. Pratt's SCONDA is on record as nearly-unanimously calling for significant increased spending on the Forces, both members rose like trained seals to vote with the Government against the very interests both are expected to represent in the House.




Mr Eggleton, an underachieving Minister of National Defence relegated to the back benches, might have been expected to do something from there that he seemed unwilling or unable to do from the front benches; stand up for our men and women in the Armed Forces!




I had frankly not expected this particular resolution to carry. But, I had hoped that these three gentlemen might have afforded their public support for the men and women Canada regularly sends in harm's way. At the very, very least, I had thought these three worthies might at least have had the decency to absent them selves from the vote.




But, never for a moment, would I have expected them to slide to this kind of low.




The offence they afforded all members and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces was aggravated by the fact that, just moments earlier, the House accorded a standing ovation to two of our veterans in the Public Gallery of the House. The first was a 102 year old First World War soldier who went into the trenches in France at age 16. The second was a highly decorated Second World War flyer who flew 44 missions over Nazi occupied Europe before being shot down, to end his war in a Prisoner Of War camp.




Evidently, if you and I do remember, these three Members of Parliament do not.




Lest We Forget!


Colonel (retired) W. J. Bill McCullough
President United Services Institute of Nanaimo & North Island




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