Excerpt from the FDA's Brian Bradley Case Study and Process Review of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB)
"Brian's struggle is unique, as illustrated by the fact that only an average of 0.42 percent of veterans from 2009 to 2013 who received an unfavourable VRAB appeal decision takes the decision to the Federal Court for judicial review. Brian’s perseverance for what he perceives as his rightful disability pension according to the legislation has helped a number of veterans by establishing legal precedence in the Federal Court for how to interpret the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act, Pension Act, and other Acts. In addition, Brian’s determination has helped to expose the VRAB's partisanship and inadequacies, and the hypocrisy of federal politicians who declare an obligation to injured and/or disabled veterans but do not fulfill that declaration in practice.
The FDA believes Brian is a Canadian hero in the sense that during a time of personal struggle lasting seventeen years and at significant financial and personal sacrifice, he has helped to advance the interests of veterans and Canadians by exposing the inadequacy and disregard of the VRAB and the federal government regarding thousands of injured and/or disabled veterans. Brian continues to serve this country.
Equally important, Brian has helped to expose severe deficiencies in the federal government itself. These deficiencies are comprised of the self-interest approach of elected officials including the Prime Minister as characterized by the system of patronage appointments and gross mismanagement of federal government departments and institutions such as the VRAB. The FDA believes the government’s system of patronage appointments is doing a disservice to veterans and Canadians as a whole because potentially, the most qualified and experienced persons are not getting into the government public service positions. Additionally, the independence of government institutions like the VRAB and Veterans Ombudsman Office are compromised by partisan appointments. For example, the former Veterans Ombudsman, Colonial Pat Stogran, had his reappointment not renewed by the Prime Minister. Colonial Stogran was outspoken about the shortcomings of the VRAB and Veterans Affairs Canada towards injured and/or disabled veterans (Sullivan, 2012).
Further, using its expertise in international and Canadian democracy and government, the FDA believes Brian has helped expose underlying issues that are threatening Canadian democracy. The FDA has been exposed to democratic decline in various countries in which elected officials usurp the sovereign political authority of the people, while at the same time rhetorically promote democracy. For example, the United States is dominated by two federal political parties which combat each other, but at the same time work together for their bipartisan benefit, and at the expense of other federal parties and ultimately the American people. The 2012 FDA report on the American Federal Electoral System shows a system significantly biased to the two major political parties. Canada has very similar democratic issues in which Canadian federal politicians through a political establishment of three major parties have a biased and unfair grip on federal politics. Although these parties are combative, they all represent the political status quo. This status quo or lock on Canadian federal political power is undermining Canadian democracy. The 2013 FDA Report on the Canadian Federal Electoral System shows a system characterized by a series of legislative bias to these major parties.
The electoral system is critical, because it is the principle means for political power, barring undemocratic systems of government. If the electoral system is deficient and unfair, like in Canada and the United States, then it will produce election outcomes that are inconsistent with the voice of the people. This reality in-of-itself undermines democracy. As evidenced by the VRAB and its context in the federal government, Canadian federal elected officials through their patronage system, mismanagement and other issues are acting contrary to the broad public good. This raises the question as to how these people are getting into power in the first place. Unfortunately, in Canada at the federal level of government, the elected officials with control of the Parliament determine the election laws. So Canadians face significant obstacles to reclaim their democracy.
Brian Bradley has provided a way forward for Canadians: resiliency and perseverance against systems of government and conduct of politicians he did not sacrifice his life for. If all Canadians follow Brian’s heroic example of standing up for this country from internal decline, then the future of this country would be in good stead."
FDA's Veterans Report
FDA Public Forum For Injured/Disabled Veterans
2013 FDA Report on the Canadian Federal Electoral System