Brock Blaszczyk had no idea he’d get to ask a question at Thursday evening’s town hall with the prime minister. But when the retired corporal was offered the chance, he accepted immediately.
Blaszczyk had served in Afghanistan for less than a year, when he was injured in an explosion and lost his leg.
“I was working through my own stuff in my own head, with my PTSD, my injuries and everything like that… but after seeing other veterans going up against the government — the big dog — through court cases and everything, enough is enough.
“Canada needs to realize it’s not all fine and dandy in the veterans’ world.”
So, when it was his turn to ask Justin Trudeau a question, he knew he wanted to address concerns with Ottawa’s plan to reform some veterans’ programs, including changes to disability pensions.
“I was prepared to be killed in action,” Blaszczyk said. “What I wasn’t prepared for, Mr. Prime Minister, is Canada turning its back on me.”
His emotional statement was met with applause.
“I was nervous at first, and then when I got into it and brought up the problems that I see and that I personally experience, frustration kind of came out,” Blaszczyk recalled. “I just kind of blocked out everybody else in the room and it was like me and him just in a room by ourselves.”
Trudeau started his response by thanking him for his courage and said his frustration and anger are justifiable.
Watch below: Military veteran tells Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Edmonton town hall event that he feels like Canada turned its back on him.
Trudeau said the government is investing more in programs to help veterans throughout their lives instead of the lump sum payments under the old system. The prime minister explained that program spending must be taken into account.
“Why are we still fighting against certain veterans’ groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now,” Trudeau said to some shouts and boos from the crowd.
“You are asking for honest answers.”
Blaszczyk said the prime minister’s response was disappointing.
“I kind of knew I’d get the typical politician answer. It’s his job… he has to represent all Canadians to the best of his ability.
“I was disappointed in the fact that he said, ‘Well, we just don’t have the money for that right now.'”
The veteran said his intention was to hold Trudeau to promises he made during the election campaign.
“He made a promise that us veterans wouldn’t have to fight the government in court anymore,” Blaszczyk said. “But yet, there’s still veterans out there in a legal battle with him over this whole mess of lifetime pensions.”
He said since the exchange, his phone is buzzing non-stop and Blaszczyk doesn’t plan on quieting down any time soon.
“It’s just time to be silent no more.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
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