Gosse: Premier needs to stand up for veterans by creating a veterans advocate

February 13, 2014

NDP MLA Gordie Gosse says the province can’t sit back and hope the Harper Government will change its position on the closure of the Veterans Affairs Office in Sydney. He is calling on Premier Stephen McNeil as Minister responsible for Military Relations to stand up for veterans by appointing a provincial veterans advocate.

The advocate would work with veterans and report to government what is needed to replace what was lost by the closing of the Veterans office in Sydney. This could include re-opening the office with a renewed provincial focus on helping veterans who need support.

“The closure of the veterans office in Sydney has left vets wondering where they can turn if they need help or support,” said Sydney area veteran Vince Rigby. “The last few weeks have been extremely difficult. If the Premier adopts the NDP’s proposal for a veterans advocate it would help remove the doubt and anxiety the veterans are feeling right now.”

Gosse says helping the veterans is just the right thing to do.

“On Tuesday in a Liberal press release MLA Patricia Arab said ‘doing nothing was not an option’ when it came to our vets,” said Gosse. “If the Liberals are prepared to stand by their word they will hire a veterans advocate to deal with the crisis the Harper government has created.”

Earlier this month Gosse called on the government to hold an emergency meeting of the Veterans Affairs Committee to address the federal closure. Today a planning meeting is being held and Gosse will request federal Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino be invited to testify, along with his Deputy Minister Mary Chaput. Gosse is also hopeful veterans and advocates such as Vince Rigby are given an opportunity to participate. The government has indicated the emergency meeting will be held in Sydney around the middle of February.

“I fully appreciate the burden being placed on the province by the downloading of programs and services by the federal government, but we need to make an exception for our veterans,” said Gosse. “They stood up for us when we needed it most and we need to be prepared to do the same for them.”