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An open letter to National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan concerning the Afghan War Memorial

Published in the Toronto Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun

24 May 2019

This is the text of an email that I sent to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan:


I am incredibly insulted that the Afghanistan Memorial was officially opened in secret at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), in an area that is not accessible to the general public. Not one currently serving Canadian Forces member or veteran, including Afghanistan War veterans, or families of the serving members or veterans, were invited to the dedication, nor even told about it until after the fact.

Even the Prime Minister, who has never met a photo-op he didn’t run directly towards, whether wearing a shirt or not, wasn’t there, something that I find completely disgraceful. However, I must admit I’m not surprised, seeing as he has shown nothing but contempt for the Canadian Forces, taking after his father, of course.

I’m a retired Royal Canadian Navy reservist and although I didn’t serve in Afghanistan, I proudly support those who did. We must never forget the sacrifices of those who served in Afghanistan, especially those who made the supreme sacrifice. By hiding the Afghanistan Memorial away at NDHQ, your government has created the impression that it wishes to forget about the war and those sacrifices.

As you are an Afghanistan veteran yourself, you must be incredibly insulted too. There is absolutely no reason for this slap in the face to all who have served their country and continue to serve. As the Minister of National Defence, I want to know how you could let this happen? I know your government has been busy dealing with issues related to the SNC-Lavalin scandal, throwing two female cabinet ministers out of caucus and throwing Vice-Admiral Mark Norman under the bus (and attempting to throw him is prison), but your conduct has been extremely disappointing in this matter.

I wanted to use the word disgraceful, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you were ordered to stay out of it and keep your mouth shut. You could do the honourable thing and quickly rectify this unbelievably stupid decision, along with providing a reasonable explanation as to why you didn’t publicly call out the Prime Minister or whomever approved this insulting action.

I understand the Prime Minister has ensured the public that the memorial will be accessible to anyone who requests to visit it, but that is not good enough. The Afghanistan Memorial must be placed in an easily accessible public place, preferably in the War Museum, as I understand it needs to be kept indoors, or in a specially constructed shelter at the National War Memorial that will provide it with the protection needed.

I await your response to let me know when the re-location will be completed and when this re-dedication ceremony will be held so that I and other veterans and members of the public can have the opportunity to attend.

Bruce Forsyth, CD

Leading Seaman (Ret’d)

Royal Canadian Navy Reserve

Bruce Forsyth is a freelance writer and the webmaster for www.militarybruce.com.


This is the letter I got back from the staff in the Minister’s office and my response back:

From: DND_MND@forces.gc.ca <DND_MND@forces.gc.ca>
Sent: June 27, 2019 3:05 PM
To: Bruce Forsyth
Subject: RE: Afghanistan Memorial at NDHQ  

Dear Leading Seaman (Ret’d) Forsyth:  

I am writing in response to your email addressed to the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, about public access to the Afghanistan Memorial Hall. The Minister has asked the Department to reply on his behalf. I apologize for the delay.  

Let me begin by saying that we owe the family and friends of our fallen, all who served in Afghanistan, and Canadians an apology for not properly communicating the details of the opening of the Afghanistan Memorial Hall. As the Minister of National Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff said, we sincerely apologize.  

Several locations were considered before the decision was made to display the Memorial at the National Defence Headquarters (Carling) in Ottawa. This location was chosen to keep the monument safe from the elements and from vandalism. It was important that the Memorial be accorded an appropriate venue in which it could be best preserved.  

The Afghanistan Memorial Hall was opened with a dedication service on May 13, 2019. After the service, families of the fallen were officially invited to visit the Hall and the Cenotaph memorial.  

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is now organizing scheduled opportunities for all who wish to visit the Hall. CAF personnel will guide each public visit and provide visitors with information on Canada’s military contribution in Afghanistan. Individuals may schedule a visit by sending an email to VisitorAfghanMemorial-VisiteurMemorialAfghan@forces.gc.ca.

The Government of Canada is also planning to build a national monument in honour of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan at a central location in downtown Ottawa.   I hope this information is helpful. Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for your military service.  

Yours sincerely,

Isabelle Daoust, Defence Corporate Secretary

From: Bruce Forsyth
Sent: July 1, 2019 7:16 AM
To: DND_MND@forces.gc.ca
Cc: Erin.OToole@parl.gc.ca
Subject: Re: Afghanistan Memorial at NDHQ

Ms. Daoust,

Thank you for writing back.  I do understand that your department has been getting a lot of blowback from this ill-advised decision.  It’s not too late to rectify this debacle.

I must still disagree with the decision to keep the Memorial at NDHQ, even with escorted visits for the public to view it.  As I said in my original letter, I feel a suitable place would be in the War Museum, perhaps in the main lobby for maximum exposure to the general public, especially for those who wish to visit the Memorial but do not necessarily wish to tour the museum itself.  This would accomplish two additional things, that being keeping it in a safe, sheltered facility to ensure it doesn’t get damaged by the elements or vandals, and it may encourage more people to tour the War Museum itself once inside the building. 

I hope your department will still consider this suggestion.

Thank you,

Bruce Forsyth, CD

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Dale GrayThere was no mention of the Canadian civilians that cleaned, every day, rain, shine or dust storms, the memorial in KAF in honour of those who lost their lives, including civilians. They should also be included.Like · Reply · 1y

Perry JimYou know what I love about what this government has now done – TRUDEAU IS VERY BUSY polluting the skies flying all over canada APOLOGIZING to every single GROUP that HE FEELS were wronged in the past by THIS GOVERNMENT and then HE DOES THIS? My guess, on day someone will be APOLOGIZING FOR EVERY SCREW UP including this event that TRUDEAU has done in the last 3 1/2 years.Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Perry JimJames Donaldson – Aw, since it was already proven that he lied about his roll might be nice IF you could now prove or show us all that that is the truth. Talk is cheap, PROVE, actual proof that he was what you claim he was – you do know that it was me who won this war right? Anyone can say whatever they want when they figure no one is going to find out – until they do.Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Sylvia MaddisonUnfortunately, Harjit will never read that statement. he could care lessLike · Reply · 2 · 1y

Felicity LovegroveMust be open to the public and as for Trudeau time to GO.Like · Reply · 2 · 1y

Ken ClementsMr Sajjan (calling him Minister is an insult to all veterans) never said a thing as he’s a loyal lapdog of Trudeau. He’ll never raise this issue with Cabinet as he’s smart enough to know that disagreeing with the Boss gets you investigated by the loyal RCMP on trumped up charges. No, this clown will contune to serve his master and not lose one minute of sleep over this insult to Canadians. The other guilty party in all of this is the butt kissing military leaders who are deeply devoted to the Liberals and Trudeau. They’ll do his bidding and enjoy it as they did in the Admiral’s case.Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Lonny SterlingHopefully he’s gone when the turd is flushed in October. He’s not the person for that job anyway!Like · Reply · 2 · 1y

Roy HodgeAll the sugar in Canada can’t cover up the smell that these politicians are creating.Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Margaret RoutledgeCanada could learn a thing or two from Australia. They have the best war memorial in Cabberra that I have ever seen. Schools from all over bring the children to the memorial. You could spend days there and not see it all. Australian children know the sacrifice their soldiers have made in all wars!Like · Reply · 2 · 1y

Rob OllerenshawRoy Atkinson Geez Roy, and I thought it was Mike Harris that is responsible for everything!! Who knew?Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Roy AtkinsonHe lied his ass off, that is why Justine, like him!!Like · Reply · 1y

Bob StewartJust to add support to those appalled and disgusted by the decision of where and how to set up this Afghanistan memorial and belated attempts to sooth public outrage. Given the ramp ceremonies and “Highway of Heroes” and other heart-felt recognition given by ordinary Canadians as well as fellow veterans to those who gave their lives in Afghanistan I find it incredulous that General Vance and Defence Minister Sijjan, both having served in Afghanistan, would think this concept of a room in the national defence buidling was acceptable to Canadians. Clearly, this needs to be taken out of the military command’s hands. A non-profit private group needs to be formed, public funding sought — there will be plenty of donations — and a fitting memorial constructed. On private land if needed if the government won’t provide some. If the government and the military can’t or won’t properly honour our fallen, we must do so ourselves.Like · Reply · 3 · 1y

Dawn NykorakWhy are the Liberals hugging and hiring the terrorists when they return to Canada? Why are you making our soldiers, veterans and their families pay the wages of terrorists that killed and badly injured our military? Why do the children of our fallen have to walk in the streets with these murders! We’ll not forget come Election Day!Like · Reply · 4 · 1y

Brian KingThis is another example of Justin Trudeau deliberately interfering with and making a decision on his own to disrespect the Afghan veterans and everyone who knows them by not showing up, not telling veterans about the memorial and putting it in the back field. Both Justin and his old man had a hatred for our military.Like · Reply · 4 · 1y

Roy AtkinsonJustine, does not ever apologize for anything he does!! He just second guesses, desions, made by other PMs over 100 years ago!! He was not there, so how can he second guess, any for PM!! But then againHarper is responsible for everything!!Like · Reply · 4 · 1y

Roy AtkinsonJFK, said,”” Ask not what your country can do for you,But ask what You can do for your country!! Canada has become full of free loaders, who think that everyone else should pay for their greedy wants!!Like · Reply · 4 · 1y

Josipa ErentThese liberal arrogant jerks simply do not care about Canada or Canadians.. They have ruined Canada !!!Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Jim RobinsonThis decision had to come from the PMO. Totally disgraceful and the memorial needs to be relocated to a public place ASAP!Like · Reply · 8 · 1y

Richard ClarkJames Donaldson not to downplay this or insult any reservists, but as far as I know he was a reservist only…Int Officer, so he couldn’t make it as a Infanteer!Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Richard ClarkWell said Bruce, we will all wait (breath holding) for the Ministers letter of apology/resignation…

Richard Clark, CD , MCPL (Ret)Like · Reply · 5 · 1y

Bob HoldenWas someone afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings?Like · Reply · 3 · 1y

Laurent LefebvreAbsolutly disrespectful indeed, at a loss of words on this issue, it is undescribably insulting,hurtful, unneighborly, unfriendly, unCanadian, and to think this was done by the people representing, and at the helm of our great Nation CANADA. If that is the best that you Mr. Priminister Trudeau, and all of your unCanadian ministers have for the people that protect our great nation has to offer us, it is high time that you relinquish your positions, because our country needs someone in place that is going to not stab our dedicated forces in the back, just as you have proven your intent of doing with this matter. This is so filled with uncoothness you should be stripped of you citizenships.Like · Reply · 6 · 1y

Joyce RoseBruce Forsyth..thank you. Well said.Like · Reply · 5 · 1y

Bill BoskwickKevin Webster …We STILL HAVE THOSE HEROES…nnever lose sight of that. We can replace or repair physical monuments–and will.Like · Reply · 9 · 1y

Errol AvelingOur defence ministers service in Afghanistan was that of an interpreter and he was recruited from the Vancouver police dept. He is sadily lacking in actual military service. He was not remotely qualified to be defence minister. After this fiasco I would not even refer to him as a Canadian.Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Ron TaylorThis government knows no shame. I don’t know how they live with them selfs . Just disgraceful.Like · Reply · 8 · 1y

Harriet WordenHe should resign, he sits there at the memorium and lets the Armed Forces take the fall. Well…he and Trudeau and several more of his sheep, will all be gone after October as I’m sure Canadians will not put up with any more of this government’s bungling and liesLike · Reply · 9 · 1y

Michael LegerAfganistan was served up to us by Paul Martin, a Liberal. Justin will probably try to dump it on Harper. There is something truly wrong with the people running our country. They insist on going from one disaster to another ?Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Bill BoskwickWell said…perhaps a bit too gentle on this Defence Minister though. “Following orders”–isn’t acceptable, susspect he didn’t want to lose his
place at the public feed trough. Pretty sad.Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Brian McHughEdward Nelson Dear Edward, Thank you so much. I was not aware of that Kennedy quote.Like · Reply · 6 · 1y

Hartmut HubatschI totally agree with comments I too served the Miliary for 31 years I did not serve in Afganiston but I wish I could have. Our leaders are all messed up and therefore I will not vote for your partry. In addition to this I do believe that you lied about the Medusa file Sgt Hubatsch CD 2Like · Reply · 9 · 1y

Gwenn MarieWhat are these traitors hiding? Hiding the facts of those that killed these heroes. Minimizing the honour of our heroes and attempting to sweep the evilness of the terrorists…..because the Liberal terrorist government do so love terrorists.Like · Reply · 9 · 1y

Edward NelsonBrian McHugh — “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers.” John F. Kennedy, October 1963. (Sounds like Pres. Kennedy also read Cicero.)Like · Reply · 23 · 1y

Wade WarrenDon’t hold your breath.Like · Reply · 1y

Lee KoskiSounds possible trudeau will love your draft and he can have it in one of his rags by nightfall.Like · Reply · 1y

Lee KoskiScott Walsh cheap words back it up or start defending your liberals openly .Like · Reply · 14 · 1y

Lee KoskiGreat letter to the point .I am waiting to hear how trudeau and the rest spin this in a way only they can swallow.Like · Reply · 6 · 1y

Les FowlerKevin Webster We will flush the Turd in OctoberLike · Reply · 30 · 1y

Mark Gregory LanovazLieberal arrogance knows no bounds.Like · Reply · 8 · 1y

Patricia Elizabeththe truth behind this is that the Trudeau government does not want to offend Muslims. The memorial commemorates those who lost their lives in Afghanistan at the hands of radical Muslims. This is nothing more than an exercise in political correctness once again gone amok with this government.Like · Reply · 9 · 1y

David CulhamThrowing Trudeau into the mix is a political distraction from the main point that is the Minister is supposedly in charge and must take responsibility for the huge mistake and take steps to correct it.Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

James DonaldsonThis memorial is the unofficial one erected by our soldiers in Kandahar. It was repatriated and installed at DHQ in honour of this effort. The National Afganistan Memorial to be located near the Canadian War Museum is in the planning stages.Like · Reply · 1y

James DonaldsonFor your information, while I found his boasting of importance in the planning of Operation Medussa over the top, the man was a Lt. Colonel ( Intelligence Officer ) in the Canadian Army and did indeed serve in Afganistan.Like · Reply · 1y

Stuart RobinsonAnd it sure looks like you’re utterly desperate to to discredit both him and his message. Just the same old song and dance from Liberals. Well played sir! Except it wasn’t, pretty pathetic in fact.Like · Reply · 1y

Stuart RobinsonScott Walsh I don’t know the man myself. However rather than shoot the messenger I pay heed to the message. So, putting your distaste for him aside, what is it about his message that you disagree with?Like · Reply · 16 · 1y

Jim WeirThis is an outrage. It is incomprehensible that a national war memorial could be treated with such disdain. But then we’re talking about Trudeau. He probably doesn’t want to upset any of his jihadist croniesLike · Reply · 18 · 1y

Walter PodzyhunBrian Caldwell yes… I was in a hurry….it should have been sight. I stand corrected.Like · Reply · 1y

Brian CaldwellWalter:
When you wrote: “…..back room and out of site so…..”, did you really mean, “…..back room and out of sight so…..”?Like · Reply · 1 · 1y

Scott WalshBruce Forsyth. I don’t know if you will remember me but I certainly remember you. You sir are the disgrace anytime you wore any uniform. Glad you are no longer in the military. Utterly disgraceful you were.Like · Reply · 2 · 1y

Michael BarnesThe Turd can wander the Globe apologizing to anyone who may have been offended centuries ago, yet he won’t treat this monument with the respect it deserves, that is disgraceful. I hope Scheer rectifys this when he is electedLike · Reply · 17 · 1y

Russ SandersThis Trudeau Liberal government is proving every day that they are desperately trying to bury our military past, present and future. Our veterans asked for more financial support to aid their medical and living expenses but Trudeau brought our own veterans to court stating Canada can not afford to assist our own veterans BUT, Trudeau gave Afghan veterans 63 million dollars to assist them. Since Canada pulled out of Afghanistan, the memorial no one knew about was brought back to Canada, put in a place no one can freely visit and all the relatives of those who died or were wounded in Afghanistan never knew a thing about it. The more I read about this corrupt anti Canadian Liberal government and the more I read about out traitor, selfie, egotist Prime Minister Trudeau, the deeper my hate goes to all of them. Please Canada, wake up, get rid of this menace in October.Like · Reply · 1y

Chad ZopfThe memorial was outdoors and well maintained. It was on Kandahar Airfield withn theCanadian portion of the camp and well protected inside the wire. Many visits to the site to pay respects to our fallen comrades.Like · Reply · 1y

Jane ByersHe was the Architect!! Maybe that is why he didn’t want the families to attend the Dedication of this Memorial!! He couldn’t face them!!Like · Reply · 21 · 1y

Bill NashHis inundations of Conservative rhetoric only shows he doesn’t care about the memorial as much as he tries to discredit the Liberals. It sure looks like he was prompted in writing this letter.Like · Reply · 1y

Garry HorsnellPhotos show the Kandahar memorial was outdoors in Afghanistan and available to Canadian soldiers.

So why does it have to be locked away indoors and not open to Canadian soldiers and military veterans and their families in Canada where it is far safer?

Or am I wrong? Is it now less safe in Canada?Like · Reply · 7 · 1y

Ian WilsonI don’t think the “self-made hero” will do one damn thing! He likes to lick the feet of his boss! They all do, that way they get to pretend they’re all saviors of Canadians! In October, send them packing!Like · Reply · 21 · 1y  · Edited

Kevin WebsterAnd then there’s Canada …. a country that had heroes…. built statues of them and then 100+ years down the road decided to re-write history, believe the tainted memories over the written history and tear down the statues…. leaving us divided and without heroes…. and then to rub salt into the wound… take people convicted of historical henious crimes, again overlook the written history, pardon them of their convictions, spit on those who were affected by these criminals….. and make them into heroes…. You just can’t make this kind of garbage up…Like · Reply · 54 · 1y

Brian McHugh“Poor is the nation that has no heroes, but poorer still is the nation that having heroes, fails to remember and honour them.”
Cicero 106 to 43 B.C.Like · Reply · 43 · 1y

Walter PodzyhunIt’s obvious that the moron we have for a prime minister put this memorial in the back room and out of site so it wouldn’t offend the muslims. What’s even worse is that the idiots around him let him do it. Maybe, when it’s his time we could build a memorial for him. The first memorial should be a statue of him on the dark side of the moon where no-one will be able to see it including aliens. The other option is to shape all urinals in his likeness. This way you can see him on a daily basis.Like · Reply · 13 · 1y

Garry HorsnellPM Trudeau and his Liberals have been disgraceful and should apologize publicy to all Canadians and especially to the military veterans.Like · Reply · 19 · 1y

Ed StewartVery well written, but i doubt the Minister will do anything, as he is still wearing his color of deceit, that will never ever leave him, due to the fact He, and only He, wanted to take credit for the Pat on the back for orchestrating one of the missions that ended the war! When he wasn’t even over there, OOPS I FORGOTLike · Reply · 25 · 1y

Jayson EdwardsBruce Forsyth. Thank you for your service. A shame on Trudeau.Like · Reply · 22 · 1y

Jason Brinkssajjan won the afghan war all by himself dont you know. just another tone deaf idiotic trudeau moveLike · Reply · 34 · 1y

Ken WilsonCome on Bruce
This is a Liberal government that thinks it is OK to take a convicted terrorist sympathizer to dinner in India at taxpayer expense. Do you realy think they give a rats as* about our military or vetrans of a war against terorism? The only way this memorial will get the honours it deserves is when we elect a Conservative government, the left will never pay tribute to those who sacrifice for pre-Trugrope Canadian values.Like · Reply · 27 · 1y

Craig DowlingJust ANOTHER Justin Trudeau Dispicable item on his Hidden Agenda to Destroy Canadian Values!Like · Reply · 25 · 1y

Gary WoodsEvery one of the Memorial Plaques for the 268 Canadians killed in 1985 by Sikh terrorists was purged of any link to Sikh extremism , just like the 24 Candians killed in 2001 by muslims terrorists where Chretien purged the memorial of any link to islamic extremists .

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/an-open-letter-to-national-defence-minister-harjit-sajjan-concerning-the-afghan-war-memorial/

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