Media Coverage of VAC Office Closures
We knew it would be big, but never imagined we’d have well over 3,000 people packing the streets of Sydney on Saturday! About one tenth of the population of the greater Sydney area came out to support veterans protesting the closure of Veterans Affairs office closures. For photos and video and to get an idea of the level of community support visit the Facebook event page here. PSAC/UVAE members are featured in the news coverage, alongside veterans and supporters saying how important their work is. The "March of Concern" made national news on Global National, CBC’s The National, and CTV News and as well as on CBC Radio’s The World This Weekend and other national newscasts through Saturday evening. Read more in La Presse, the Globe and Mail, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Cape Breton Post the Oye! Times and the Windsor Star. Here is a great editorial cartoon.
We woke up on Saturday morning to a rallying edition of the Cape Breton Post and a page of letters protesting the closures. PSAC president Robyn Benson’s op/ed asking why the government is spending so much money on advertising instead of keeping offices open. One letter reminds readers to “remember betrayal of veterans at the ballot box”, and another is written by a veteran urging his community to come out to the rally. Another from a retired RCMP officer and VAC client says Prime Minister Harper’s “true legacy” will be his disservice to veterans. Another letter says the real scandal is the closure of VAC offices. Gordon and Evelyn Sampson called the closures “unbelievable” and pledge their support for veterans, and another letter from Cape Breton Regional Municipality Counsellor Eldon MacDonald urges the community to join the rally.
Saturday’s Charlottetown Guardian ran an editorial echoing our call to Minister Fantino to go out to communities to talk to veterans before moving forward with his plans to shut the VAC offices they rely on.
On Friday veterans in Windsor gathered to protest the VAC office closures too, and that was covered in the Windsor Star and Blackburn News and by CBC. You can see very powerful video and photos of their protest in the Windsor Star here. The Windsor Star’s editorial calls out the government for its pricey advertising campaign aimed at veterans while services are being cut and VAC offices closed. And iPolitics ran a story on Friday about PSAC's response to the government’s justification for VAC office closures (full text below).
More news on veterans below but here are some highlights: Senator Romeo Dallaire has come out publicly opposing the closures. He's in good company: 8-year old Lauren and her 7-year old brother Daniel got support of the local shopping mall to set up a table inside gathering signatures opposing the VAC office closure in Sydney. And Cape Breton Mayor Cecil Clarke, who ran for the Conservatives in the last election, says on CTV that he appealed to MP Peter MacKay on the issue, and that “Governments do change their minds.”