Veterans join the ‘anyone but conservative’ bandwagon

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Another group is vowing revenge against the federal Conservative party in 2015.

According to the Chronicle Herald newspaper, Veterans — numbering in the thousands — are readying themselves for a fight against the government which purports to be a military booster.

"When the election is called, you’re going to see some large fallout, believe me,” veteran Ron Clarke told the Herald.

"As soon as the writ is dropped, we are in action."

Veterans taking part in the campaign apparently feel jilted over the shuttering of nine veterans' service centres, a controversial veterans charter -- whereby some injured soldiers get paid a lump sum instead of a disability pension -- and an overall lack of respect from Minister Julian Fantino and his office.

They're also upset that the government spent $4 million on an ad campaign to defend themselves over complaints about a lack of veterans services; they wanted that money to be reallocated to veterans' services and particularly support for caregivers.

[ Related: ‘We have stopped Hudak, Harper is next,’ Ontario union leader Sid Ryan says ]

There are other groups orchestrating 'anyone but conservative' campaigns ahead of 2015.

Last month, Yahoo Canada News spoke to Ontario Federation of Labour chief Sid Ryan who said preparations for a 'Stop Harper' campaign will begin after Labour Day.

"The [Canadian Labour Congress] will take the lead on the overall campaign with assistance from the Federations of Labour across the country," Ryan, whose group takes credit for stopping the Tories from winning the Ontario provincial election, told Yahoo.

"Ontario will be a major battleground and that's why it's so important that Labour mount an aggressive campaign."

Environmentalists also feel buoyed by the Harper's governments alleged in-action towards climate change and CRA's audits of environmental charities.

Rick Smith of the left-leaning Broadbent Institute wrote an op-ed for the Toronto Star suggesting that those policies have rejuvenated the environmental movement.

And First Nation communities from coast to coast have vowed not to vote for the Tories in response to their refusal to call an inquiry into missing and murdered women.

[ Related: B.C. man going across Canada on unicycle to call for political action on climate change ]

But unlike the unions and environmental groups — who were never going to vote for the Conservatives anyway — the veterans seemed to be an accessible voter group for Team-Harper.

And not only will the Tories — potentially — lose votes from veterans, a veteran-led anti-Conservative movement could affect the thoughts and beliefs of the general population.

Ekos Research pollster Frank Graves, recently told Yahoo Canada News this issues like this could have a "corrosive effect" on the Harper government brand.

"The real question is whether this episode will take on symbolic significance and become a flash point for public disaffection for the perception of the government's hard hearted style in many areas," Graves told Yahoo in an email exchange.

"So the image of the government as black hearted accountant impervious to the tears of veterans may become a potent symbol. It also could amount to little.

"We know that sympathy for the military has risen over the past decade and that there are huge problems affecting veterans . We also know that our recent polling shows that the public lean to the view that government cuts have tipped to the point where they are causing serious strains in society."

If, during writ period, veterans are actively campaigning against the Harper government, it's hard to believe that they won't get some sympathy and a lot of attention.

That could be a problem for the Harper Conservatives.

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