News / Ottawa

Allan Harding MacKay sends torn art to MPs in veterans protest

The prolific Canadian artist who tore up his work in protest of the government on Parliament Hill last spring, has sent the pieces of his art to Conservative MPs as a reminder of how they're treating war vets.

"The treatment of veterans and their families has been abysmal. The bad stories continue to come out," said artist Allan Harding MacKay, whose depictions of conflicts in Afghanistan and Somalia are also held by the Department of National Defence.

MacKay said the government spent almost $1 million in legal fees fighting amendments to the War Veterans Allowance Act which will see an end to claw backs from disabled veterans pensions.

The changes mean disabled veterans will collect their salary in a pension, which will then be deducted from their Earnings Loss or Canadian Forces Income Support benefits.

A spring ruling by the Federal Court pushed the amendments through after 4,500 veterans filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of National Defence in March 2007.

To protest these actions and the government's response to environmental and other issues, MacKay sent a signed and numbered edition art work consisting of a boxed yellow velvet glove embroidered with the word "conscience" to the Prime Minister and 163 Conservative MPs. Inside each glove is a fragment of the works he destroyed on the hill May 10.

MacKay also said one third of military families that applied for funeral assistance have been approved.

"This government is good at saluting the flag," he said, "but when it comes to looking after our men and women both psychically and mentally, they are not being given the best treatment."

Media reports early this week revealed that out of 29,853 requests for funeral and burial benefits, about 67 per cent, or 20,147, were rejected.

"This series and destroying the work are related," said MacKay. "They come out of my sense of being a citizen who is quite disturbed by the direction this particular government is taking. It has a very political message.

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