Jody Wilson-Raybould kept word to visit veterans despite resignation from Veterans Affairs

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VANCOUVER—Just two days after resigning as Minister of Veterans Affairs, Jody Wilson-Raybould was still keeping up with plans to visit with veterans.

On Thursday, Wilson-Raybould visited the George Derby Centre, a senior care centre located in Burnaby, B.C., to help distribute Valentine’s Day cards made by students. The visit was planned while she was still in office.

Wilson-Raybould visited a senior care centre in Burnaby where she met with veterans and heard their stories.
Wilson-Raybould visited a senior care centre in Burnaby where she met with veterans and heard their stories.  (Casey Cook/Twitter)

Casey Cook, president of the board of the George Derby Centre and who was present during the visit, said that despite being in the middle of national political controversy, Wilson- Raybould did not mention politics and kept her focus on the veterans that day.

“I was just impressed with her, for operating in what must have been an extremely stressful situation … she never mentioned politics, she asked all the veterans where they were from and where they served; she spent considerable time with them,” Cook told The Star.

On Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould, who is also the MP for Vancouver-Granville, handed in her resignation has head of Veterans Affairs, just a month after she was moved to the job from her previous post as Attorney General. The move has been viewed by many as a demotion, possibly influenced by the Prime Minister’s Office to prevent the prosecution of Quebec company SNC-Lavalin.

Cook estimated that Wilson-Raybould spent close to two-and-a-half hours speaking with “every veteran in the room,” which he estimated to be approximately 40 in total. He thanked Wilson-Raybould for her visit on Twitter.

Read more:

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Trudeau admits Wilson-Raybould challenged him on SNC-Lavalin

The SNC-Lavalin affair: meet the main players

Cook said that it was the first time that he knew of, in over 10 years serving on boards of senior care homes in the Metro Vancouver area, that any representative from the federal ministry had visited veterans.

“Frankly, I have not even seen a federal minister come to a centre,” he said. “I would venture to guess 90 politicians out of 100 would have cancelled this appointment.”

In her statement of resignation on February 12, Wilson-Raybould underscored her commitment to veterans.

“To Canada’s veterans and their families: I have the deepest admiration and respect for you. This decision is in no way a reflection of my desire to see your service and sacrifice upheld and honoured.”

With files from David Ball.

Cherise Seucharan is a Vancouver-based reporter covering health and safety/youth. Follow her on Twitter: @CSeucharan

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‘Revolving door’ of ministers in the veterans affairs department causing worry

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OTTAWA—In the political controversy engulfing Justin Trudeau’s government, advocates fear that the revolving door atop the veterans affairs department means that veterans and their priorities are getting short shrift.

Jody Wilson-Raybould on Tuesday announced her resignation from cabinet after serving barely a month as veterans affairs minister.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will also take on the role of veterans affairs minister after Jody Wilson-Roybould left the federal cabinet on Feb. 12, 2019.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will also take on the role of veterans affairs minister after Jody Wilson-Roybould left the federal cabinet on Feb. 12, 2019.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

She quit cabinet amidst allegations that Trudeau’s office had pressured her in her former role as attorney general to mediate a settlement with SNC-Lavalin rather than pursue criminal charges.

In the wake of her announcement, Trudeau said that Harjit Sajjan, who is the defence minister, would take on the role of veterans affairs minister too. He becomes the eighth minister to hold the position since 2010 and the fourth since the Liberals took office in 2015.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada.

“Who can possible effect the real substantive reforms needed in any ministry under these time frames. The answer, of course, is nobody,” he said.

“Our message is that veterans and their families deserve better,” said Maxwell.

In the wake of Tuesday’s resignation, the Royal Canadian Legion called on the government to create one department to merge Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence to ensure seamless oversight of military personnel “from recruitment into retirement.

“We have witnessed several puzzling changes to VAC’s leadership in recent years, and we now question just how committed government is to Canada’s veterans,” the legion said in a statement.

“On their behalf, we ask that the veteran portfolio overall be treated as a vital one, and that government take swift action so that critical issues related to our veterans’ well-being are dealt with immediately,” the statement said.

Successive governments have faced criticism that the benefits provided to veterans fall short at the very time that government is faced with a wave of veterans suffering the mental and physical wounds from Canada’s extended mission in Afghanistan.

Kent Hehr was the first politician to hold the post in Trudeau’s government, followed by Seamus O’Regan, then Wilson-Raybould and now Sajjan.

Each change means a steep learning curve for the minister and their staff as they get up to speed on the issues facing the department, the complex array of veterans benefits and get acquainted with stakeholders. That inevitably means delays.

Sajjan at least comes into the portfolio with some familiarity with the issues, thanks to his time as defence minister and a veteran of the Armed Forces himself. But it still means that the job of veteran affairs minister is now a part-time role, held by a minister juggling two departments.

Maxwell noted that a few ministers have stayed in their portfolios for a prolonged period, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Sajjan and questioned why veteran affairs doesn’t merit the same stability. “It’s time that it did and it needs to,” he said.

NDP MP Gord Johns, the party’s critic for veterans affairs, said that veterans have grown frustrated with “revolving door” of ministers for the department.

He praised Wilson-Raybould as a “capable” minister and said expectations were running high that she could make headway on the issues facing the department. “I think a lot of veterans were very excited of her stature and her CV,” said Johns (Courtenay—Alberni).

He met with Wilson-Raybould just last week and agreed to meet again to work together on veterans issues. “She was open and willing to work on issues with me,” Johns said.

“Veterans are tired of rhetoric. They want a minister that is committed to working on their issues,” he said in an interview. “Veterans are really being lost in all of this.”

Even when she took on the post in a January cabinet shuffle, Wilson-Raybould had to push back on suggestions that the veterans affairs role was a demotion in the hierarchy of cabinet positions.

“I can think of no world in which I would consider working for our veterans in Canada as a demotion,” Wilson-Raybould told reporters on the day of the shuffle.

Trudeau himself declared that day that serving as veterans affairs minister is a “deep and awesome responsibility.”

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

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Global Affairs Canada warns Canadians to avoid ‘all’ travel to Venezuela

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Global Affairs Canada has updated its official travel advisory for Venezuela to warn Canadians to avoid all travel to the South American country because of the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis there.

« Avoid all travel to Venezuela due to the significant level of violent crime, the unstable political and economic situations and the decline in basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, food staples, gasoline and water, » Global Affairs says on its website.

Venezuela is a major oil producer that has been wracked by hyperinflation, food shortages and rising violent crime since Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013 by a thin margin following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez. 

Maduro was inaugurated Jan. 10 to another term in office following a widely boycotted election that many foreign governments — Canada included — described as a fraudulent.

Maduro’s government accuses the U.S. and other countries of launching an « economic war » against Venezuela, blaming foreign sanctions against his country for most of its problems.

The change to the official travel advisory comes a day after the Liberal government hosted a gathering of foreign affairs ministers from the Lima Group of countries in an effort to find a resolution to the crisis gripping Venezuela.

At the close of that meeting in Ottawa on Monday, the Lima Group — Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia — officially elevated Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to the status of a « fully fledged » member of the group.

Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, swore himself in as interim president last month and was quickly recognized as such by Canada, the U.S. and other nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

Bolivia, Cuba, Turkey, Mexico and Russia, among others, have not followed suit and continue to back Maduro as the rightful president, accusing the U.S. and others of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

« It is very important to understand that Guaido derives his legitimacy from the National Assembly, which is the sole remaining democratically constituted body in Venezuela, » Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said at the closing press conference of the Lima Group meeting.​

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Veterans Affairs $165M gaffe headed to Federal Court in proposed class-action lawsuit

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A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against the federal government over the $165-million accounting blunder by Veterans Affairs Canada, CBC News has learned.

The court action, which has yet to be certified, was filed on Tuesday by former soldier Dennis Manuge, who successfully took the Department of National Defence to court a few years ago over the clawback of military pensions.

The new case involves the miscalculation of disability awards and pensions at the veterans department, a fiscal gaffe that went on for almost eight years, starting in 2002.

In 2010, the department discovered and corrected the indexing mistake, which affects about 272,000 elderly veterans, but quietly fixed the issue without notifiying those affected until the former veterans ombudsman blew the whistle last November.

Last week, CBC News revealed documents that detailed how the error happened and some of the assumptions bureaucrats used when the issue was buried.

The lawsuit takes aim at that aspect and said the government’s « conduct in failing to disclose the calculation error once discovered in 2010 is public misfeasance in office which should be censured by a damage award, » said a copy of the statement of claim.

Peter Driscoll, the lawyer representing Manuge, said the federal government knew what it was doing and acted unlawfully.

« We say that there is a duty, among other things, upon the government to disclose such an error, make good on that error in a transparent way, and that’s what they failed to do, » he told CBC News in an interview.

Repayments coming 2020

Manuge, who was collecting disability benefits during the period in question, said he believes someone needs to held accountable for not reporting the initial mixup.

« Any Canadian can understand a mistake, but just come out and say, ‘Listen, we made a mistake, this is what happened and here’s what we’re doing to fix it,' » he said in an interview Wednesday.

The Liberal government dodged questions last week about whether it would investigate.

« If Veterans Affairs is not going to hold themselves accountable, if we cannot get a straight answer … then, you know, I am really confident that the Federal Court will find some answers for us, » said Manuge.

As part of owning up to the mistake late last year, the Liberal government promised it would reimburse those affected, but underlined the payments wouldn’t be made until 2020.

That, said Driscoll, is offensive.

« You know when a veteran owes the government money in the form of an overpayment and VAC benefits, or assistance, or whatever the case may be, they’re immediately required to pay it back, » he said.

2007 lawsuit

Driscoll said a number of veterans, in addition to Manuge, contacted their law office and claim that their attempts to get information about reimbursement out of service agents at Veterans Affairs have been met with obfuscation and the brushoff.

Driscoll said Manuge’s experience and perseverance through the previous court case involving the Service Income Security Insurance Plan meant he was the right person to front a class-action lawsuit.

Manuge was injured in an accident at Camp Petawawa, Ont. in 2001, just before being deployed to Bosnia. His condition forced him to leave the military two years later, and he suffered from lower back pain as well as bouts of depression.

At the time, his Canadian military long-term disability benefits were reduced by the amount of money he received in disability from Veterans Affairs.

He fought the clawback and filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government in March 2007, which took almost five years to make its way through the courts.

His lawyers won a victory in 2012, when the Federal Court said it was unfair of the federal government to treat pain and suffering awards as income.

The former Conservative government decided not to appeal and negotiated a $887-million settlement with the roughly 7,500 soldiers who were affected.

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Ontario names former Lac Seul chief as ‘special adviser’ on Indigenous affairs

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The Ontario government has named the former chief of Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario to an adviser’s role to the province’s Indigenous affairs minister.

The province announced on Friday that Clifford Bull will be a « special adviser » on Indigenous affairs. A written release stated that Bull will advise Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford on economic, social and jurisdictional issues affecting Indigenous communities.

According to the government, Bull will also « serve as a liaison » on behalf of Premier Doug Ford and Rickford, with Indigenous communities.

Bull was chief of Lac Seul from 2006 up until earlier this year. The province said he has also served as a band councillor for the community and worked as a social worker supporting residential school survivors.

« He has a proven track record of bringing communities and individuals together to achieve common goals, » Rickford was quoted as saying in the government’s announcement. « As special adviser, I know he will help create meaningful opportunities to strengthen the relationship between Indigenous communities and Ontario. »

Bull ran for the PCs in the newly-created Kiiwetinoong riding in the 2018 provincial election, finishing second behind the NDP’s Sol Mamakwa.

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Global Affairs Canada says it knows of no Canadians affected by Indonesia tsunami – National

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Global Affairs Canada is not aware of any Canadians that have been affected by a tsunami that struck Indonesia Saturday night and has killed over 200 people.


READ MORE:
Tsunami triggered by volcanic eruption kills 222 in Indonesia, injures over 800

“Canada is deeply saddened by the tragedy caused by the Sunda Strait tsunami in Indonesia,” Global Affairs spokesperson Brendan Sutton said. “We are not aware of any Canadians who have been affected.

“Consular officials are in contact with local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens if needed.”

The Minister of International Development’s office also said that Indonesia has not asked for aid, which is needed before Canada can chip in.

WATCH: Video appears to show tsunami hit as Indonesia pop band performs






“[Canada] cannot offer aid until there [is] an international call by the host government,” said Louis Belanger, a spokesperson for International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. “At this time, the Government of Indonesia has not requested international humanitarian assistance.

“Our mission and humanitarian partners on the ground are assessing and monitoring closely the situation,” he said.

At least 222 people are dead from the tsunami that struck Indonesia’s Sunda Strait Saturday night, while more than 800 have been reported injured, Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency said.


READ MORE:
Tsunami wave crashes into concert on Indonesian beach, killing 2 band members: video

Scientists say that the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides triggered by an eruption from the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano, and was aided by the full moon.

The death toll may rise as some affected areas have not been reached yet.

Travel Canada has updated its website with information on the tsunami, saying to “follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local news for information.” It has not issued a specific travel warning related to the tsunami yet.

WATCH: Indonesia police rescue child from rubble after deadly tsunami






Global Affairs recommends to call the Embassy of Canada in Jakarta at +62 21 2550 7800, the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1-613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca. if emergency consular assistance is needed.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How events unfolded after foreign affairs minister sent tweet rebuking Saudi Arabia

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Months before a firestorm erupted over a federal government tweet criticizing a Saudi civil rights crackdown, Canadian diplomats had been trying to delicately address the issue behind closed doors.

Those efforts came crashing down after Global Affairs Canada publicly called out Saudi Arabia on Twitter for arresting activists and demanded their release.

A trove of over a thousand pages of emails and memos from officials in Ottawa and the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, obtained by CBC News through an Access to Information request, tells the story of how events unfolded.

Earlier tweets elicited no reaction

While it was the tweets in early August that triggered an international diplomatic crisis, tweets posted May 23 similar in tone and message seemingly went unnoticed. That same day, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland made a statement during question period condemning the arrests of activists.

Redacted emails from an unknown sender had two days earlier recommended against issuing any public statements or tweets and instead proposed alternative approaches. The concern was that a show of support for the civil rights activists would feed rumours that they were working on behalf of foreign embassies.

During the summer, the Canadian Embassy requested meetings with Saudi officials to follow up on « the arrest and detention of several civil society activists. » Invited to the meeting were diplomats from Australia, Switzerland and Norway, embassy documents show.

New round of arrests prompted new tweets

On June 27, a confidential summary of new Saudi crackdowns was circulated among Canadian officials. The memo stated that, just days after the Saudi government lifted its long-standing prohibition on female drivers, « this latest move suggests that the government’s campaign to crack down on civil society and make clear its intolerance for political activism is far from over. »

On July 31, news came that two more civil rights activists had been arrested — one of which was Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed activist Raif Badawi, whose wife fled to Canada. The next day, bureaucrats began planning out the wording for tweets.

« I spoke to my management and we agree that a tweet is warranted, » wrote an employee whose name was redacted. After after a series of discussions over which hashtag would yield the most reach on social media, an email was forwarded to the minister’s office recommending the tweets be approved in order to « express concern regarding these arrests. »

Calm before the storm

On August 2, a first tweet from the minister’s account went live, and reaction was being closely monitored. Early on, emails suggest staff were disappointed with how little traction the message received online.

The next day, two more tweets were sent out: one from the departmental account, and a version translated into Arabic from the embassy’s account. Staff pointed out that the minister’s earlier tweet included explicit mention of Samar Badawi and proposed that the new ones do so, as well.

The reaction from Saudi Arabia was swift. Just hours after the second round of tweets was published, the Saudi government retaliated, announcing it was expelling Canada’s ambassador, and it would sell off Canadian assets, cease flights to Canada, stop buying Canadian wheat and barley and suspend student exchange programs.

Damage control, media frenzy

On Aug. 5, staff became aware of reports indicating that the Saudi government intended to expel Canadian diplomats from their country. The documents show that staff were learning many of the developments from media reports and from inquiries being made by reporters to their department. By now, the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office were fully engaged in the discussions over how to manage the situation.

Emails from staff were circulating expressing shock and sadness for embassy and consular staff. Someone working within the overseas team sent a long email thanking their colleagues.

« I couldn’t have asked for a better team to close out my career with. Despite the way it ended, I think we were able to do a lot of good things together, » read the message.

« The saddest part in all of this is that [redacted] will not have the chance to say a proper goodbye. »

As officials were trying to come up with a communication strategy to put out fires, they were getting swamped by questions from national and international media. The foreign affairs department carefully monitored media publications and online reaction.

In one email from the minister’s office, a request was made to try and find any evidence of support from « like-minded » groups or countries.

Ninety minutes later, a staffer responded that that there was « very little » to be found in terms of online backing from other countries.

At the same time, the department was receiving emails from Muslim community leaders inquiring about travel advice for Canadians intending to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

Then came calls from industry players like Bombardier. The company’s government affairs contact was trying to set up a meeting to discuss the impact of the situation. Another email discussed the future of the billion-dollar light-armoured vehicle contract Canada held with the Saudi government.

Even a representative for the government of Prince Edward Island reached out to Global Affairs for assurances the issue would be dealt with, as a local company had just struck a deal to provide lobster to a Saudi restaurant group and shipments were to begin two weeks later.

Staff were also preparing lists of stakeholders and attempting to quantify the impact the rift would have on Canadian post-secondary institutions and medical schools, which host about 10,000 students a year. 

« The point is, these are not starving students … they are generally from more affluent families — and come with families who spend money. Something to bear in mind, if the threat to withdraw KSA students is real — and materializes, » a departmental employee wrote.

As the spat began to draw international attention, there was an online backlash from Saudi social media accounts telling Canada to mind its own business. In one notable incident, a Saudi youth group tweeted an image appearing to show an Air Canada plane heading toward the CN Tower in a way that is reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

Staffers were tasked with keeping tabs on these types of hostile reactions, as well.

Once the dust had begun to settle, records show Freeland held talks with politicians from other countries, including the U.K., Germany and Sweden. On August 7, her office made a formal request to set up a call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but it is not clear based on the records if this meeting occurred.

In late September, Freeland expressed a desire to mend fences with Saudi officials by discussing their differences on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

However, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at the council meeting that if Canada wishes to move on, it must first apologize for demanding the release of Saudi women’s rights activists and stop treating the kingdom as « a banana republic. »

Weeks later, the controversy surrounding the murder of Saudi dissident and writer Jamal Khashoggi captured the international community’s attention, leaving the situation over the initial Twitter rift in limbo.

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Trudeau responds to Christopher Garnier’s Veteran Affairs payouts during question period

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pressed during question period on whether the government will revoke convicted killer Christopher Garnier’s Veterans Affairs payouts.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer revisited the matter during Wednesday’s question period, when he acknowledged that the Trudeau government is changing the policy that led to Garnier receiving benefits but claims they “refuse” to intervene and revoke payouts to the convicted killer.

Garnier, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder and interfering with human remains in the 2015 death of 36-year-old Truro police officer Const. Catherine Campbell.

“Catherine Campbell’s parents are visiting Parliament Hill today so I’m wondering if the prime minister can explain why he’s putting the interests of Catherine Campbell’s killer ahead of the interests of Canada’s veterans,” Scheer said.

“Our hearts and the hearts of all Canadians go out to Susan and Dwight and all of Const. Campbell’s family,” Trudeau replied. “The Minister of Veterans Affairs and the member from Central Nova have reached out and conveyed that to them directly.”

READ MORE: Killing off-duty cop gave Christopher Garnier PTSD, should be mitigating factor in sentencing: defence

Trudeau then defended Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan, whom the prime minister said is addressing existing policy related to treatment of family members under extenuating circumstances, such as conviction of a serious crime.

“This will ensure we continue to support veterans and their families who need our help,” Trudeau stated.

WATCH: Christopher Garnier case continues to dominate Question Period






In Garnier’s trial, the jury found that he strangled Campbell and used a compost bin to dump her body near the Macdonald Bridge. The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no eligibility for parole before 13.5 years served for the crime.

Despite never having served in the Canadian Forces, Garnier’s application for benefits was approved because his father is a veteran who told the court that getting PTSD treatment for his son would help him, too.

The decision prompted widespread outrage from the public and veterans who are facing months-long wait times for similar benefits.

READ MORE: ‘We’re Catherine’s voice’: Mother of murdered cop pleads with Ottawa to revoke benefits to her killer

Campbell’s parents met with Scheer, MPs and veterans Tuesday on Parliament Hill in an attempt to have Garnier’s benefits revoked.

“This is terribly wrong,” Susan Campbell told Global News. “I don’t know how this government can condone giving this coverage to somebody who is not even a veteran and has brought this on by his own doing.”

—With files from Amanda Connolly

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Veterans Affairs cuts benefits to jailed relatives, but won’t say if Garnier affected

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Veterans Affairs Canada will not pay for benefits for incarcerated relatives of veterans in the wake of the Christopher Garnier case.

But what wasn’t immediately clear whether this move by Veterans Affairs will have any direct impact on Garnier. The department wouldn’t comment on his case, citing privacy.

« Going forward, treatment benefits will not be provided to a veteran’s family member who is incarcerated in a provincial or federal facility, » Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement to CBC News. 

« Those facilities would be responsible for the treatment of persons in their institutions. » 

Garnier spurred controversy when it became known during a sentencing hearing in August that Veterans Affairs had paid for his PTSD treatment in jail. 

A Nova Scotia court heard Garnier developed PTSD as a result of murdering Catherine Campbell, an off-duty police officer.

The court was told that Garnier’s father, who had served in the Canadian Forces, also has PTSD, and that getting treatment for his son helps them both.

Garnier, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Campbell in Sept. 2015. He later received a life sentence. 

‘A disgusting insult’

It’s unclear how many people the decision affects. Veterans Affairs Canada told CBC News it doesn’t keep records of how many incarcerated family members of veterans are receiving benefits from the department.

O’Regan formally announced the revised policy Tuesday in response to a question in the House of Commons from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who called the payments a « disgusting insult » and part of the « abysmal » Liberal record on veterans.

« I have reviewed the department’s findings on this issue, and I am directing them to ensure the services received by a family member of a veteran are related to the veteran’s service and where they are not, that the case be reviewed by a senior official, » O’Regan said.

O’Regan said the policy change was made in light of the Garnier case.

« We’re reviewing this in light of what happened with Christopher Garnier, no question, » O’Regan said.

O’Regan won’t discuss

« I am directing the department to immediately address its policy in providing treatment to family members under extenuating circumstances such as conviction of such a serious crime. »

O’Regan refused to discuss specifics of the case, insisting he is committed to protecting the privacy of the veteran.

His statement came after the Conservatives used their opposition day in the House to debate the issue.

During Question Period Tuesday, Phil McColeman, the federal Conservatives’ critic for Veterans Affairs, asked Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan to intervene in the Garnier case and « right this wrong. »

He said veterans across Canada are outraged Garnier is receiving benefits through Veterans Affairs.

« We will not let the minister avoid answering this question, » McColeman said.

‘You are a disgrace’

O’Regan said the federal government has placed the highest priority on making sure veterans and their families have support and services they need, when they need them. He said he wouldn’t discuss Garnier’s case.

« When it comes to Canada’s veterans and their families, we are not in the business of political opportunism. We are interested in getting veterans well again, » O’Regan said during Question Period Tuesday.

Earlier, Alberta Conservative MP Michelle Rempel berated O’Regan on Twitter, calling the minister a « ridiculous coward. »

« Do your job and revoke his benefits. You are a disgrace, » she tweeted.

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