By Kristy Koehler, September 9 2019—
A Calgary candidate rolled out a veterans policy at the first-ever People’s Party of Canada convention in Gatineau, Quebec in late August.
Canadian Airborne veteran and candidate for Calgary Nose Hill Kelly Lorencz announced the policy alongside party leader Maxime Bernier.
The policy, entitled “Veterans: Standing behind the men and women who sacrificed for our country” promises to reinstate the fair disability pension as previously provided for by the Pension Act and apply the pension retroactively to 2006, treating any lump-sum payments received since then as advance payments.
In 2006, lifetime pensions were abolished and replaced by a new system featuring lump-sum payments. The Liberal government under Paul Martin conceived and passed the New Veterans Charter while Stephen Harper’s Conservatives continued on with the policy shift as one of their first acts after taking power later in the year.
Trudeau’s Liberals made good on campaign promises to increase the lump-sum payments, reinstate the lifetime pension and re-opened nine Veterans Affairs Canada offices that were closed by the previous Conservative government.
Still, Trudeau came under fire in 2018 for his comments at a town hall, stating that veterans “are asking for more than we are able to give right now.”
Lorencz said the statement was an insult not only to veterans but to current serving members of the Canadian Forces.
“Veterans don’t ask when we get sent overseas if we’re giving enough, because we’re putting our life on the line,” he said.
Lorencz cited his own experiences as an impetus behind the policy, saying that the lump-sum payment he received was much less than his regular pension would have been and that the system for accessing benefits is convoluted and lengthy.
The PPC claim their policy will right the wrongs of both previous governments and instigate a line-by-line review of the New Veterans Charter.
Lorencz lauded Bernier for listening to his candidates and party members, saying that the policy was a collaborative effort.
“Who better to create a platform for veterans, than veterans,” he said.
Forty-four veterans were present at the convention for the announcement, many of them candidates. Part of the reason the PPC is attracting veterans, Lorencz said, is due to the strong leadership shown by Bernier and his “Canada-first” attitude.
“Every soldier puts their life on the line for their country,” said Lorencz. “This is an opportunity to put country first again. A big part of that is being able to have a voice.”
The People’s Party has yet to release a comprehensive plan for national defence, but Lorencz says he’s hopeful that something is forthcoming.