28 March 2010

"Your Opposition to the Children of Fallen Canadian Heroes"

One Norman Leach writes a letter of denunciation attacking the University of Regina professors who dared to object to the Project Hero Scholarship campaign. There is a lot to learn from this exchange:

"Norman Leach" nsleach@telusplanet.net 03/27/10 11:21 PM

To All of You

Just watched the CTV National News. Please add my letter to the "thousands of angry letters" you have received. As a Canadian I fully respect your right to be wrong - and to speak out proving it.

However, to play politics with the lives of the children of soldiers is horrific. The children did not choose their parents' occupation, the soldiers did not choose to go to Afghanistan but were doing what they had committed to do - follow orders and serve their country. Please remember the soldiers are there on the orders of two legally elected governments, one Liberal and one Conservative - orders that were sanctioned by the UN.

If you have an issue with the program how about climbing down from the Ivory Tower and volunteering to help build schools in Afghanistan, with educated children there our soldiers can come home. At least then you will have done some real good.

Of course it is far easier to sit safely in the hallowed halls of the U of R using your position to hurt those you are supposed to be teaching - students.

That's the difference between you and a Canadian soldier - a soldier knows the meaning of honour AND SERVICE.

I applaud the University of Regina for ignoring you - and hope your students do so as well.

Norman Leach

Calgary Alberta

From Garson Hunter Ph.D. (Social Work), Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina

March 28, 2010


Now you wouldn't be the Norman Leach who is the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce - Canada West would you? Sure you are because the email address you just used to send this message matches the email address from your public profile website. Tell me Norman Leach, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce - Canada West; what is the function and purpose of the federal "Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act C-28?" After you look through the Act and its Regulations would you mind answering the question about what, then, is the purpose of "Project Hero?" Rick Hillier and Kevin Reed’s Project Hero scholarship is explained on Rick Hillier's website “Each university will cover the cost of undergraduate tuition and first-year residence fees for eligible students, and the number of scholarships awarded each year will depend on how many students qualify.”

Let me save you the trouble since I have done my homework. The "Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act C-28" will provide for tuition, educations costs and a modest living allowance while the dependent attends post secondary education. Using your city of Calgary as the example, the University of Calgary has announced that under Project Hero the university will cover the cost of undergraduate tuition for four academic years (eight semesters) for students who have lost a parent while serving in active military missions with the Canadian Forces. On-campus residence fees for the first academic year will also be covered. So the students are actually just receiving residence fees for one year under the terms of Project Hero and then only if the student lives on the campus. And Project Hero is not in actuality providing any funding to cover the residency expense; rather the University of Calgary must absorb that cost. Why is the business community not contributing to the funding of this scholarship? This sounds like socialist funding to me. It should be pointed out, again, that the benefits provided under the "Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act C-28" provides for additional educational expenses beyond just tuition. Although the Act should be consulted for the most accurate information, the Veteran Affairs Canada website provides a quick summary:

"We have a program to help children carry on with their education past high school if they have a CF parent who dies as a result of military service; or was pensioned at a medium or high level at the time of his or her death.

Under the program, full-time students can qualify for grants of about $6,700 a year to help pay for their education and living expenses. This amount may change over time to allow for increases in the cost of living.

To qualify for the program, students must be under the age of 30 and attend a post-secondary school in Canada. Former students who went to school after 1995 can also apply to have some of their education costs reimbursed."

Now I know that I will never receive an adequate response from you Norman Leach about who is actually playing politics with the lives of the children of soldiers in a horrific manner. Therefore I am going to make your email message to me and my response to you publicly available to all that are interested. It will include a link to your public profile website.

None of the other signatories to our letter had any part in the drafting of this response to you. It is my response and my response only.

Oh and one other thing Norman Leach, unlike you I am not an Honourary Canadian Armed Forces Peacekeeper whatever that is; but an actual Canadian Armed Forces Peacekeeper. But I guess I must thank you for pointing out to me "That's the difference between you and a Canadian soldier - a soldier knows the meaning of honour AND SERVICE."

Garson Hunter

The "Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act C-28" can be found online at the Department of Justice Canada website at:

The Veterans Affairs Canada summary of benefits can be found online at:

The link to Rick Hillier's website describing the benefits of the Project Hero Scholarship can be found online at:

The terms of the Project Hero scholarship at the University of Calgary can be found online at:

The website of Norman Leach’s public profile can be found online at:

"Project Hero" is Nothing New nor Necessary: The Federal Government Already Provides Assistance

One of the less informed, or less honest, assertions made about the "Project Hero Scholarship" is that the program is a necessary form of support for poor children who have lost a parent to fighting in Afghanistan. This implies that were it not for Project Hero, these youths would be left to their own devices (like so many other low income children of single parents in Canada). The argument then becomes that the academic critics of the program are being extremely mean and unjust in wanting to deny this support, among other "contemptible" motivations (as the Globe and Mail suggested).

But all of these assertions are plainly incorrect, and in some cases are outright falsehoods used to ostracize and mob the 16 University of Regina professors who, as good scholars, spoke out in good conscience. The majority of the public, which is against the war in Afghanistan, would demand that many more join them.

First, Project Hero is redundant. The Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act C-28 already exists. This is hardly a case that without Project Hero, these children are left abandoned and without benefits. Read the provisions of Act C-28, some of which follow:
Allowances and costs of instruction
3. The Minister may, in accordance with this Act and the regulations,
(a) make allowances to or in respect of students to enable them to continue their education or instruction within an educational institution; and
(b) pay in whole or in part the cost of such education or instruction.
R.S., 1985, c. C-28, s. 3; R.S., 1985, c. 12 (2nd Supp.), s. 2.
Amount of allowance
4. (1) The amount of the monthly allowance that may be paid to or in respect of a student during the period in which the student pursues a full-time course of study in an educational institution is the aggregate of
(a) $300.00, and
(b) if no pension is being paid on behalf of the student under or by virtue of any of the enactments set out in the schedule, an additional amount equal to the monthly rate of pension for one orphan child provided in Schedule II to the Pension Act.
Total period covered
(2) The total period for which an allowance and costs may be paid to or in respect of a student under this Act shall not exceed four academic years or thirty-six months, whichever is the lesser.
(3) The costs of education or instruction that may be paid in respect of a student under this Act shall include such tuition and other fees and costs as may be prescribed by regulation.
Minister may extend
(4) The Minister may extend the total period for which an allowance and costs may be paid to or in respect of a student under this Act where the Minister is of the opinion that the student’s progress and achievements in his course of study are such that it would be in the interest both of the student and of the public that the payments under section 3 be continued during a further period.
R.S., 1985, c. C-28, s. 4; 1990, c. 43, s. 45; 2003, c. 27, s. 3.
Age limit
5. No allowance or costs shall be paid under this Act in respect of a student who
(a) has attained the age of twenty-five years, or
(b) where, pursuant to subsection 4(4), the Minister has extended the total period for which an allowance and costs may be paid beyond the year in which the student attains the age of twenty-five years, has attained the age of thirty years, except in so far as may be necessary to enable the student to complete the academic year in which he attains that age.
R.S., 1985, c. C-28, s. 5; 1990, c. 43, s. 46.
6. [Repealed, 1990, c. 43, s. 47]
Annual adjustment
9. (1) Where any allowance has become payable under this Act, the basic monthly amount of that allowance shall be adjusted annually, in such manner as may be prescribed by the Governor in Council, so that the amount payable for a month in any following year is an amount equal to the product obtained by multiplying
(a) the amount that would have been payable for that month if no adjustment had been made under this section with respect to that following year,
(b) the ratio that the Consumer Price Index for the twelve month period ending on the thirty-first day of October immediately before that following year bears to the Consumer Price Index for the twelve month period immediately before that twelve month period.
That much should be settled: the 16 University of Regina professors are not threatening to take bread for anyone's mouth.

Second, the University of Regina professors have not said that children of deceased military parents should not receive support. Instead, this is what they actually said:
The majority of young adults in Canada find it increasingly difficult to pay for their education. If they do make it to university, they rack up massive student debts which burden them for years. Instead of privileging the children of deceased Canadian soldiers, we suggest that our administration demand all levels of government provide funding sufficient for universal qualified access to post-secondary education.
Again, their point was too simple to be missed, which is why the continuing condemnation of their concerns is all the more dishonest and egregiously inegalitarian. They would like to see support for all struggling students. The really mean and unjust argument is to say that only some are deserving, the rest can essentially go to hell. That is privileging some over others. And why should only some be privileged? Whose poverty is better and more deserving than another's? The answer lies in the fact of the new military normal in Canada, with increasing militarization of the society, culture, and academia. The critics of the professors have made their point for them, however inelegantly.

Third, the professors are accused of being "political." Yet the very essence of the classic definition of "politics" is about who has the power to decide who gets what and why. The decision to fund only a certain category of students, those whose parents have fought in a war in service to the state, is a fundamentally political one. The unthinking complaint that the professors are being "political" and should "get back to their jobs," demonstrates precisely the extent to which freedom of thought and speech is being virtually outlawed when the imperatives of the national security state are in question. Apparently "the job" of professors is never to serve as citizens, with rights, and they should instead "get back to" teaching mere data and information, not producing knowledge and exploring meaning. Some should really invest time in understanding what higher education means, before pontificating to scholars, but more importantly, before further damaging the meaning of democracy and the benefit of higher learning. If these professors are as degenerate and contemptible as their attackers suggest, then surely Project Hero is redundant for one more reason: Why would you want your children to be taught by such people?

Fourth, the erroneous assertion has been made that the same children of these professors go to university for free. Not quite. Typically at a Canadian university that has such an allowance, and not all do, we find the following stated (in this case, the Collective Agreement at Concordia University is used as an example):
a) Members and their dependents are entitled to a waiver of tuition fees as detailed hereunder for any credit course(s) of Concordia University for which they are eligible to enroll.
What is not made clear is that such a waiver is treated as taxable income -- not so "free" after all.

For those who wish to pursue crass anti-intellectualist arguments, grudging those who teach your children, or who would like to see a uniformly right-wing bias dominate university, we ask that you reflect on how you have deeply impoverished this debate and the extent to which you are willing to further the militarization of this society, the dampening of free speech, and the castigation of those whose job it is to question and to always be skeptical. Also remember, they are not the minority--most Canadians oppose the war in Afghanistan, and have for a long time. AJP wishes to renew its thanks to those 16 professors for their important public service. The professors have no reason to apologize or withdraw their statement, and we all have every reason to praise them for their courage.

Canadian and Opposed to the War in Afghanistan? Welcome to the Majority

It is lost on some people -- for example, the editors of The Globe and Mail -- that the war in Afghanistan most certainly does not meet with the approval of most Canadians. Let us refresh our memories:

AJP Stands Against "Project Hero" and Canadian Imperialism in Afghanistan

Anthropologists for Justice and Peace (AJP) fully supports and reaffirms the open letter by 16 conscientious critics at the University of Regina, against the "Project Hero" scholarships:

AJP supports professors who have taken a principled stance against the "Project Hero" scholarship program and the valorization of the deeply flawed "War on Terror" that it represents, and in particular Canada's intervention in Afghanistan which has been consistently rejected by the majority of the population.  "Project Hero" does nothing to address the fact that post-secondary education has become evermore inaccessible to those of low or moderate incomes - precisely the people who are recruited into the armed forces as a path to economic security and career success. Furthermore, as universities are increasingly enlisted as research and development and policy arms of war profiteers, "Project Hero" further advances this colonization of what ought to be open, critical, and non-militarized public spaces. Rather than glorifying war and providing consolation prizes to the children of Canadians killed in the unjustifiable war in Afghanistan, AJP maintains that education is a public good that ought to be accessible to all and directed toward addressing the social injustice that is so often both the cause and outcome of violent conflict.

We invite all those who read this statement to go to our ACTIONS page and send emails to the appropriate authorities.

Open Letter from Professors at the University of Regina against "Project Hero" Scholarships

An Open Letter to President Vianne Timmons

March 23, 2010

Dear President Timmons:

We write to you as concerned faculty members of the University of Regina, to urge you to withdraw our university immediately from participation in the "Project Hero" scholarship program. This program, which waives tuition and course fees, and provides $1,000 per year to "dependents of Canadian Forces personnel deceased while serving with an active mission", is a glorification of Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We do not want our university associated with the political impulse to unquestioning glorification of military action.

"Project Hero" is the brainchild of Kevin Reed, a 42-year-old honorary lieutenant-colonel of an army reserve unit in southwestern Ontario, who has said publicly he was inspired by the work of retired Canadian General Rick Hillier. General Hillier, one of the most controversial figures in the recent military history of this country, was the first to introduce "Project Hero" at a Canadian post-secondary institution, just after he took up the post as Chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Since then, a number of other public Canadian universities have come on board.

In our view, support for "Project Hero" represents a dangerous cultural turn. It associates "heroism" with the act of military intervention. It erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices. In signing on to "Project Hero", the university is implicated in the disturbing construction of the war in Afghanistan by Western military- and state-elites as the "good war" of our epoch. We insist that our university not be connected with the increasing militarization of Canadian society and politics.

The majority of young adults in Canada find it increasingly difficult to pay for their education. If they do make it to university, they rack up massive student debts which burden them for years. Instead of privileging the children of deceased Canadian soldiers, we suggest that our administration demand all levels of government provide funding sufficient for universal qualified access to post-secondary education.

The University of Regina has always been closely tied to our Saskatchewan community, and the strategic plan, mâmawohkamâtowin, means "co-operation; working together towards common goals". We do not think that "Project Hero" is a common goal chosen by those of us who work in the University; it is not drawn from the values of this institution. We think it is incompatible with our understanding of the role of public education, or with decisions made by a process of collegial governance.

In addition to withdrawing from "Project Hero", we think the issues we raise should be publicly debated. We are calling on the U of R administration hold a public forum on the war in Afghanistan, and Canadian imperialism more generally, at which the issues we raise can be debated. This forum should be open to all; it should take place this semester, before exams, as "Project Hero" is set to start at U of R in September 2010.

To summarize, we are calling for:

(1) The immediate withdrawal of our university from "Project Hero".

(2) An institutional deployment of public pressure on both orders of government to provide immediate funding sufficient for universal access to post-secondary education.

(3) A public forum on the war in Afghanistan and Canadian imperialism more generally to be held this semester before exams begin.


Joyce Green, Department of Political Science
J.F. Conway, Department of Sociology and Social Studies
George Buri, Department of History
Emily Eaton, Department of Geography
Jeffery R. Webber, Department of Political Science
David Webster, International Studies
Annette Desmarais, International Studies
Darlene Juschka, Women's and Gender Studies and Religious Studies
Meredith Rogers Cherland, Faculty of Education
Garson Hunter, Social Work
John W. Warnock, Department of Sociology and Social Studies
William Arnal, Department of Religious Studies
Leesa Streifler, Department of Visual Arts
Carol Schick, Faculty of Education
Ken Montgomery, Faculty of Education
André Magnan, Department of Sociology and Social

The "Project Hero" Controversy in the Mainstream Media

This is a select list of news articles published on the controversy surrounding Canadian universities implementing the "Project Hero" Scholarship Program, for the children of those who died while on active duty in international operations, which at present means Afghanistan mostly. AJP has taken a stance on this issue, in support of the courageous 16 professors of the University of Regina (more to follow).

  1. U of R professors against Project Hero scholarship for dependents of fallen soldiers

  2. MP seeks apology over criticism of scholarships

  3. CTV Calgary- Project Hero scholarships stir up controversy - CTV News

  4. Criticism of scholarships for children of fallen soldiers draws sharp rebuke - The Globe and Mail

  5. Should soldiers’ children get special scholarships? : Macleans OnCampus

  6. Should soldiers’ children get special scholarships? : Macleans OnCampus (part 2)

  7. CBC News - Saskatchewan - Sask. premier disappointed by Project Hero critics

  8. CBC News - Saskatchewan - Regina profs pan free tuition for soldiers' kids

  9. Sixteen Saskatchewan professors slam scholarship for fallen soldiers' children

  10. Mount Royal offers military scholarships

  11. Giving returning veterans the support they deserve

  12. U of R Prof Continues to Protest Scholarship | News Talk 650 CKOM

  13. The Canadian Press: Controversy over scholarship for kids of Cda soldiers killed on duty

  14. Letter from University of Regina professors opposed to Project Hero scholarships

  15. Project Hero | News & Events | University of Calgary

  16. PROJECT HERO - Programs and Services - Canadian Forces (CF) College Opportunities Programme

  17. Hillier defends scholarship for kids of fallen soldiers | Sympatico.ca News

  18. Concordia University is the first Quebec University to support Project Hero - Media Relations - Concordia University - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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