The federal government has, it seems, something of a Jekyll and Hyde attitude towards military veterans. On the one hand, its budget-cutting has resulted in the closing of Veterans Affairs offices and a penny-pinching approach to the well-being of injured and disabled veterans.
On the other hand, the government announced it will implement measures that "will help move Veterans to the front of the
line when it comes to hiring qualified Canadians for federal public
service jobs." Veterans with at least three years service will be given preference in advertised external hiring and will also be able to apply for internal hiring.
Why former military personnel should be given an advantage over other Canadians for employment is hard to justify. One refrain is that they served their country. But this is meaningless—everyone with a job (or is volunteering) serves their country. Or we hear that they put their lives on the line for their country. But a great many workers do that. Ever year, an average of 1,000 Canadians suffer workplace fatalities and for every death, hundreds more are seriously injured. Agriculture is the deadliest industry with an average of over 100 fatalities a year. The military are by no means alone in serving their country or serving it dangerously.
What we are looking at here is warrior-worship, the atavistic notion that the highest form of manhood is the warrior—man fulfilling himself by picking up his weapon to defend the tribe. It is long past time to rid ourselves of such primitive habits of mind.
All civil servants, including those who train to kill, should be treated with respect by their employer, and if they need help because of job-related injury they should get it. And if they need help to retrain and obtain more constructive employment, they should get that too. But not at the cost of depriving other, more qualified citizens of their opportunities. That kind of discrimination does a disservice to those others and to the civil service itself.