the veteran's charter

The bungled demobilization of Canadians returning from the First World War contributed to a period of intense political, social, and economic upheaval. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ottawa - having learned from the previous domestic turmoil - immediately began planning for the return of veterans, who ultimately numbered more than one million, to civilian life. On to Civvy Street tells the story of the development and administration of the resulting program, which shaped an entire generation.

This came in a McGill-Queen's University Press notice yesterday. I'm pleased to see it.

It has always disturbed me that the WWII veterans, as a group, were such Liberal-hating Conservatives when it was the Liberal government under McKenzie King that put the Veteran's Charter together.  One of the provisions was paid tuition at university for veterans, allowing tens of thousands to get professional degrees that without the DVA grants would have been impossible.  Others were given the downpayment on a mortgage, allowing hundreds of thousands entry into home-ownership.  Both these things, the resultant baby boom (couples could afford to have children and they had a house for them) and the twenty-year economic boom of the 50s and 60s shot several generations into almost unaccountable prosperity. 

However, the veterans never forgave the unification of the forces or the changing of the flag.  Now that we have the RCN and the RCAF back, will we be going back to the Red Ensign?  The gutting of the Veteran's Charter is the real issue, not the names.  Pat Stogran has been vociferous about this. And he was fired, by the Conservatives that all the veterans vote for. 

Oh well, we haven't got any Liberals anymore, veterans of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia are living in tents on Vancouver Island according to yesterday's documentary on The Current, and photographs of the Queen are replacing Canadian art in government buildings.  We seem to be going backwards, but not to the right things.


Stephanie Whitebooks