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Veterans ombudsman sets off Ottawa firestorm

Outgoing Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran blasted the Conservative government today.

In an Ottawa news conference, retired colonel Stogran and four veterans expressed their anger and frustration at the problems vets face in getting fair treatment from Veterans Affairs bureaucrats.

Stogran, whose appointment has not been renewed, made serious charges against the VA, and also posted them on his Ombudsman's blog:

My purpose with this blog is not to talk about the Government’s intent not to renew me as our Veterans Ombudsman. It was the Government’s prerogative to let me go, and I will leave that to the Government to explain to the Canadian people.

Instead, what I would like to do is to expose to Canadians what I perceive as a system that for a long time has denied Veterans not just what they deserve, but what they earned with their blood and sacrifice. Indications are that this is not a recent phenomena, it is a long-standing and deeply rooted practice.

The depth and breadth of the unfair practices and policies that I have witnessed is so extensive that we have barely been able to scratch the surface. After a mere two years and nine months we have been confronted with the tasks of: staffing the office, identifying the ways that our Veterans are being unfairly treated and developing doctrines and protocols to redress them, all the while being impeded by a bureaucracy that was deliberately obstructive and deceptive.

Let there be no doubt that replacing the Veterans Ombudsman at this point in time will clearly set the Office back many, many months.

The news conference was heavily covered by the CBC, Globe and Mail, and French-language media such as

Opposition parties have not yet responded to Stogran's news conference, but the NDP on Monday posted a demand for his reappointment to the ombudsman's position.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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