10 Mar Minister blocks vets’ advocate on Facebook
Nova Scotia activist and caregiver Kim Davis is miffed over what she says was an unfair ban from Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr’s official Facebook page.
Davis, of Lawrencetown, is the primary caregiver of her husband, a Bosnia veteran, who suffers from PTSD as a result of his service.
After fighting for benefits for her own husband for many years, she is still an outspoken and well-regarded member of the veterans’ community.
Davis has become a grassroots voice for veterans and their families, especially those living on the East Coast, and admits she has no trouble holding the government to account publicly through posts on forums, speaking with the media and, more recently, through commenting on the official Facebook pages of ministers and MPs.
“I’ve always held them accountable for their inaction,” she told the Chronicle Herald.
After reaching out to politicians directly through phone, mail and email over the years and receiving only generic responses, Davis said she has found the most effective way to be heard is by commenting publicly via Facebook.
But Davis said she always follows the rules, is respectful and doesn’t spam them — she estimates she comments about once or twice a month on Hehr’s page.
The rules, which have been posted on Hehr’s page several times, are essentially no insults or trolling, no profane or defamatory language, no spamming and no posting threatening, abusive, hateful or discriminatory comments.
Though she has posted about veterans’ issues on Hehr’s page in the past, it was a comment Sunday night about pipelines that she said caused the ban.
On a post by Hehr touting Trudeau’s pipeline record, which read, “Take note, fellow residents of Alberta. Trudeau 3, Harper 0: Justin is now the Pipeline PM,” Davis said she commented, “Trudeau campaigned for no pipelines. Is this another broken promise?”
Her comment was subsequently removed and Davis was banned.
Davis posted about the ban on Canada’s Banished Veterans, a Facebook group started by another Nova Scotia veteran, Doug Roberts, after facing a similar ban by former Conservative veterans affairs minister Erin O’Toole.
At least one other member commented that they had also been banned by Hehr, and several members took to Hehr’s page to stand up for Davis and denounce her ban.
“You take someone like Kim who is a caregiver and has been fighting for her husband for years, Kim is a wealth of information. They don’t want to hear from people like her because she knows the gaping craters in the system,” Roberts told the Chronicle Herald.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson from Hehr’s office said the decision to remove any individual from commenting is based solely on whether that individual violated the terms of reference of both the page and Facebook itself.
“The minister welcomes constructive and respectful debate and conversation in both his capacity as minister and as MP on his social media sites,” the statement went on to say.
Following the Chronicle Herald’s media request, the ban was quickly reversed and Davis received a response from Hehr’s parliamentary assistant apologizing for the ban, saying it was an error.
Davis said she will continue to advocate on behalf of veterans like her husband through whatever avenues are available.
She said a lack of action on campaign commitments, as well as things like cutting the amount of medical marijuana covered for veterans, has continued to grow the rift between veterans, their families and the government.
“The trust between the veterans’ community and this government is already lost for a majority of veterans,” Davis said.
Robert said although many veterans voted for change, not much has improved under the Liberals.
“(Trudeau) is not delivering,” he said. “There was a promise made to veterans for a return to lifelong disability pensions and they’re not delivering. They can blow all the smoke and mirrors out there they want but until they deliver that, veterans are not going to get off their back.”