Canada's NDP


January 25th, 2024

Rachel Blaney Urges Government to Reclassify Persian Gulf War Veterans as Wartime Service Veterans

Powell River, BC — Rachel Blaney (NDP MP for North Island – Powell River) has written to the Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor urging the Minister of Veterans Affairs to designate Canadians who served in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991 as Wartime Service Veterans. Blaney calls the repeated refusal of Veterans Affairs Canada to reclassify those who served in the Persian Gulf War shameful.

“Like many Veterans before them, these brave individuals answered the call of duty and risked their lives in active combat,” Blaney writes. “Their service deserves to be recognized fully, and it is both disappointing and disrespectful that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) refuses to do so. On the surface, it appears this refusal is because the department is more concerned with saving money than affording Veterans the benefits they deserve.”

In her letter, Blaney notes that the Canadian Armed Forces joined the largest coalition of powers since World War Two and entered an active combat zone during the Persian Gulf War. Despite these efforts, VAC has designated those Veterans as “Special Duty,” rather than “Wartime” Veterans. This means they have access to fewer benefits than Wartime Veterans. The Persian Gulf War is not eligible to be separately inscribed in the National War Memorial or any other municipal cenotaph in Canada.

“Although our coalition partners have recognized that Persian Gulf War Veterans engaged in wartime service, the Canadian government has refused to follow suit. While Persian Gulf War Veterans presented this issue to your predecessor, Lawrence MacAulay, he did nothing to address it.”

Blaney writes that the CAF played an important role in the Persian Gulf War, especially in air and naval operations. It was also the first conflict in Canadian history in which women served in active combat roles. There have been efforts, including an e-petition, to request the government reclassify the Veterans. That petition also notes that Korean War Veterans were later reclassified to “Wartime Service” following similar circumstances and a similar policy challenge.

“You [Minister Petitpas Taylor] have an opportunity with this file to correct the mistakes of your predecessors. You know these Veterans deserve the benefits, so why are you holding back? Even the former Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, has stated that this issue falls under your responsibility and yet it continues to be ignored by your government. I will continue to press you on this file in the House, during Question Period, and in committee until you do the right thing and fix it. Veterans’ service must be remembered and honoured.”