Premier shouldn’t pass the buck on Veterans Advocate

March 24, 2014

(Halifax, NS) NDP MLA Gordie Gosse says the Premier shouldn’t pass the buck on the creation of a veterans advocate for Nova Scotia. He says if the Premier supports the idea he should appoint an advocate and then invoice the federal government for the costs – the same approach the Liberal government has taken for the clean-up of the MV Miner.

“I would hope the Premier would appreciate not only the need for a veterans advocate, but the need for a veterans advocate immediately. These are difficult days for our veterans and they need our support now not later,” said Gosse.

According to Catherine Blewett, Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is testifying before the Veterans committee today, apart from one letter the Premier has not contacted the federal government about the closure of the Sydney office.

On February 14, 2014 Gosse wrote the Premier asking him to appoint a provincial advocate to help veterans navigate the federal system following the closure of the Sydney Veterans Affairs office. On March 6th, Premier McNeil replied stating:

“My government and I agree that veterans should have an advocate to hear their concerns and bring these concerns to government. This is why I have contacted the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Minister Julian Fantino requesting that he and his government create a position of Veterans Advocate to work directly with his department.”

Gosse says while he appreciates the Premier’s sentiment, ultimately the province needs a veterans advocate regardless who pays for it. He says the Premier should place the needs of veterans first and worry about negotiating the costs later.

“Given the treatment of veterans by the Harper government in recent months, I don’t think the Premier should be relying on Minister Fantino to do the right thing,” said Gosse. “Veterans in Sydney have been without the proper support for almost two months and they need help right away. The Premier, as Minister of Military Relations, should appoint an advocate now and then recover the costs later.”

He added, “If the government could find $100,000 to have a former Liberal cabinet minister review our tax system, I’m sure they can find a similar amount of money to hire a veterans advocate. Ultimately it comes down to priorities and our veterans should be a top priority. They stood up for us when we needed it most, now it’s our turn to stand up for them.”