If there is any more needed to know how low the Trudeau Liberals will go, it was their plan this November to limit the number of Remembrance Day wreaths provided to parliamentarians to lay before cenotaphs across this country.
There was never a limit placed on wreaths before, but the federal Liberals nickel-and-diming of Canadians now has the number pared down to two.
Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan was backtracking fast and furiously Monday, claiming a miscommunication, but the chain of evidence against him is written in parliamentary stone.
His emails and direct notices to MPs, as documented by Phil McColeman, shadow veterans affairs minister for the Conservatives, have nailed O’Regan dead to rights.
O’Regan’s original missive to his parliamentary colleagues was a carbon-copy of years past when Veterans Affairs Canada asked MPs to pre-order whatever number of wreaths were required to properly serve the Remembrance Day ceremonies within their ridings.
The next message, however, set a limit.
A limit of two.
There was no way the wording could be misinterpreted.
Under the subject line, “Wreaths for Parliamentarians,” the second paragraph set a limit never seen before.
“Veterans Affairs Canada is pleased to supply, upon request, two commemorative wreaths to members of Parliament who will be representing the Government of Canada at Remembrance Day ceremonies,” it read.
“The laying of wreaths is one way we can remember and acknowledge the sacrifices and achievements made by those who served Canada.”
If parliamentarians wanted or needed more, they were advised to get in touch with the Royal Canadian Legion’s Dominion Command, where a 20-inch wreath can be purchased for $100 (plus tax), and a 14-inch wreath can be bought for $70 (plus tax.)
This is all well and good in small ridings, but in Kevin Sorenson’s Alberta riding of Battle River-Crowfoot, for example, the number of small towns in his jurisdiction putting on Remembrance Day services have him requiring at least 25 Veterans Affairs wreaths.
Until this year, that was never a problem.
In McColeman’s own Brantford-Brant riding in southwestern Ontario, the bottom line number is six.
“Remembrance Day ceremonies, and the leadup to them, has already begun,” said McColeman, a nine-year veteran of the Commons. “Twice I have had to arrive empty-handed because wreaths just weren’t available — once in the small town of Oakland and, over the weekend, at the Six Nations’ commemorations.”
While Finance Minister Bill Morneau was preparing to clarify to Canadians how he was going to tax small business, Seamus O’Regan was dealing with his own heat over the limit his department had place on Remembrance Day wreaths, and backtracking wildly.
“No change to policy,” O’Regan tweeted. “Can still get more than 2 (wreaths) if needed —just call us. “We work with Legion and are encouraging MPs to work with theirs.”
What he meant by “encouraging” MPs to work with “their” local Legions, however, still leaves a certain vagueness.
Is he encouraging MPs to go to the Legion’s online shop and buy additional wreaths? Is he putting an unspecified ceiling on the number?
When pressed by McColeman in Question Period—as in “What was the minister thinking when he signed off on such a shameful idea?” — O’Regan said all MPs can receive “at least two” wreaths for Remembrance Day ceremonies.
“If you need more than two — just ask us.”
So, the Liberals are still fiddling with Remembrance Day, but they just won’t admit it outright.
Instead they’d rather play a word dance.