Liberal government backpedals on Veterans Affairs minister’s comments
After the newly appointed Veterans Affairs minister suggested some of the nine shuttered Veterans Affairs offices across Canada may not be reopened – including the one in Sydney – government is clarifying that it intends on keeping its promise.
When asked about whether the Sydney Veterans Affairs office would reopen, newly appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr did not provide a specific answer.
“We’re looking at all options to serve veterans the best we can," said Hehr.
The comments were troubling for many Sydney veterans.
"He didn't give a real assurance to me that there was a positive commitment to open the office here," said legion member Gary Evely.
But Cape Breton Liberal MP Mark Eyking isn’t too concerned. Eyking, along with fellow island parliamentarian Rodger Cuzner, have been pushing for the re-opening of the Sydney office.
Eyking says the minister may not yet be fully familiar with his new portfolio.
"At the end of the day, there's no doubt in my mind and in Rodger's mind that we're going to be opening an office here in Sydney," said Eyking.
Reopening the nine veterans affairs offices was among Justin Trudeau’s biggest campaign promises.
Christian Duval, a spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Canada, clarified the minister's comments.
“Government made a commitment and will stick to it,” said Duval. “All nine offices will be reopened, including the one in Sydney.”
Duval says the minister may have gotten his files mixed up, and his comments likely referred to the placement of 400 new case workers the Liberals have promised to hire rather than the re-opening of the nine Veterans Affairs offices.
"Let's take a breather here,” said Eyking. “The minister has not yet been updated. He doesn't have a chief of staff yet. Let's cut him a little slack here. We're very confident an office is going be open here."
Government says there is no timeline for when the offices will reopen.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.