Canadian soldiers are on the front lines in the Middle East in the International War Against Terrorism. While I believe our soldiers are first class, they are getting second class treatment from a Prime Minister who devalues the dangers they face every day. All other coalition soldiers receive special compensation through reduced taxation on their earnings.
Last September 15 soldiers serving in Kuwait were told they had to pay an additional $1500-$1800 in taxes. The government had “downgraded” the risk level they faced so in effect the government took away part of the danger pay they earn by increasing taxes.
Soldiers thought this was unfair and appealed.
Conservatives thought it was unfair too, so when the Trudeau Minister came before Defence committee, my colleagues and I had some tough questions for him. I want you to read the Minister’s own words yourself because they are unambiguous, or so we thought.
Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC):
The first question I want to ask relates to Operation Impact. I sent you a letter, Minister Sajjan, on November 10, about some of our troops that are based in the air task force in Kuwait. We have 300-plus troops there, and 15 of them are at a U.S. air base, Camp Arifjan. They are not getting the same danger pay or income tax considerations as the rest of our troops in Kuwait.
Are you committed to fixing this inequity and making sure that they get the same pay and benefits as all of our other troops who are in Operation Impact?
Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan:
Absolutely. There were even some additional challenges when I first came in and then when I first visited. We were able to address some of the direct things that were under my authority and also with getting the support of the Minister of Finance. For the specific ones that you’re talking about, there is some work that the military has to do with Treasury Board as well, but we are working through the complexities based on how this is done to make sure there is more equity for our troops when it comes to deployments.
If you were with me at that committee meeting, hearing the Minister’s answer, I think, like me you would have thought he meant the 15 soldiers were going to see their pay and benefits restored.
And that’s exactly what they did.
They didn’t help the 15 soldiers who lost a tax exemption. They took the exemption away from the rest of the soldiers serving in Kuwait.
The Liberals have no problem borrowing billions but they pinch pennies when it comes to the women and men serving in uniform.
Do you think our serving soldiers should be denied this pay so the government can fund the next Trudeau Selfie Show?