Too little, too late
Letter to the Editor
This is an open letter to David Wilks.
Mr. Wilks, you are running for re-election as MP for Kootenay-Columbia. I would like your constituents to know that you are not a fit person for the job.
Over the past four years, you have shown that you are more concerned with following orders from the Prime Minister’s Office than acting on behalf of your constituents.
One example of your failure to do the right thing concerns Flying Officer David Dakin DFC, a decorated Second World War veteran who flew 35 missions over Germany and occupied Europe while serving with Bomber Command in England.
Dave Dakin was one of 40,000 young Canadians who flew in Bomber Command operations – 9,919 of whom died in action. With skill, bravery and good luck, Flying Officer Dakin survived.
Bomber Command came under heavy criticism post-war because of the many German civilian casualties caused by the bombing. It is true that civilian lives were lost, but it is also true that the effectiveness of the bombing attacks on German industry shortened the war, thus saving many lives. Nonetheless, the controversy left many Bomber Command veterans feeling ostracized and abandoned. They were bitter that their role in the successful outcome of the war was ignored, indeed censured.
Then in June 2012, the British government decided to give a long-overdue special award to British survivors of Bomber Command. The Harper government decided to follow suit in Canada. To my great distress, however, our government made no particular effort to get this new military award to the surviving veterans – most of them aged 85 to 95 – before they died.
Which brings me back to my friend Dave Dakin and you, Mr. Wilks. In July 2012 I wrote to you about Dave, then aged 90, a constituent of yours living in Marysville. I asked you to act quickly to get the new Bomber Command award to him. Over the next 15 months I made 13 contacts with you and various Conservative cabinet ministers to no avail.
I finally made a special plea to you to do something personally to ensure that Dave received official notice of his award before he died. Soon after this, Dave was in East Kootenay Regional Hospital diagnosed with lung cancer. You could have done something, despite the lack of action by the Ministers of National Defence and Veterans Affairs. You could have visited Dave in hospital, or phoned him, or sent him a card. You chose to do nothing.
Dave died in hospital in 2013, two days before his 92nd birthday, still unrecognized for his valour as a Canadian veteran of Bomber Command. Some time after Dave’s death, the government put his award in an envelope and mailed it to his family.
The callous attitude of you and your government toward our veterans does not bode well for the people of this riding, Mr. Wilks. You are not a fit person to be our Member of Parliament.