Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vets Ombudsman, Appeal Panels Members Quietly Reappointed by Tories

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vets Ombudsman, Appeal Panels Members Quietly Reappointed by Tories

Article excerpt

Vets ombudsman reappointed by Tories


OTTAWA - The Harper government quietly extended the term of the country's veterans ombudsman on the eve of the federal election and handed out a series of appointments for an important, if often criticized, review agency.

Guy Parent, whose served as an advocate for ex-soldiers and an adviser to the veterans minister, was given a three-year extension to his mandate in a cabinet order dated July 28.

He was chosen to replace outspoken retired army colonel Pat Stogran in 2010 -- a five year term, which was supposed expire in November without renewal.

The Veterans Review and Appeal Board saw three appointments on the Friday before the election, including a one-year term extension for a P.E.I. woman whose husband had once lobbied embattled Sen. Mike Duffy on her behalf.

Joan Walsh, a mental health nurse and respected health-care administrator, has been a member of the review agency, which mediates claims by veterans, since 2006, but her name -- and along with that of her husband -- surfaced earlier this year in Duffy's widely publicized diaries.

In a note dated Oct. 26, 2011, filed as part of the ongoing trial, Duffy references a lunch in the parliamentary restaurant with Island Conservative Leo Walsh "who wants wife reappointed to VRAB (Veteran's Review and Appeal Board)."

Joan Walsh was reappointed in 2012 and again on July 31, according to cabinet records posted online.

Alongside Walsh, former New Brunswick lawyer Bernard LeBlanc and Ottawa resident Terry Prowse were also given slots on the panel, which has faced criticism from some veterans groups and the Federal Court in the past.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole said it was in the best interest of veterans to reappoint Parent and fill the three review positions without delay.

"Both the ombudsman and the VRAB serve veterans," said Martin Magnan. …

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