Local veterans group optimistic about shuffle


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January 8, 2015 9:06 AM

Local veterans group optimistic about shuffle. - Government of Canada Photo

Monday morning in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper began the new year by dropping Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino into a lesser cabinet position, and promoting a new MP to the position.

Erin O’Toole, MP for Durham, Ont., was selected as the new minister of veterans affairs.

O’Toole a former Royal Canadian Air Force member himself, has been a strong voice for veterans across the country.

Here in Lloydminster, Al Hemingway District 3 commander for the Royal Canadian Legion in Saskatchewan, said that the move was needed, but wouldn’t rush to judgement before passing judgement on the new minister of veterans affairs.

“Let’s see what he does first,” he said.

Hemingway said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source, that the former minister wasn’t doing enough to help the veterans of Canada.

“He wasn’t doing enough and actually some of his actions were hindering some of the services that veterans were getting,” he said.

“He was shutting down some of the centres that the veterans needs.”

After the closures of nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada were announced, Hemingway said that the Royal Canadian Legions across the country had to step up to ensure veterans were getting their services they needed.

“The Legion had to take over some of the services that was originally administered by veterans affairs,” he said.

With O’Toole’s background in the military, Hemingway said that he looks forward to meeting with the new minister.

“We have had no contact with Minister O’Toole himself yet, but we are looking froward to meeting with him on a national level,” he said.

“We are hoping that he will be more receptive to the concerns of the veterans affairs.”

According to O’Toole’s personal website, he served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 12 years and has been an advocate for military families and veterans for many years. He is a member of Branch 178 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Bowmanville and served on the board of governors of the Royal Military College of Canada, his alma matter. He was also one of the founders of the True Patriot Love Foundation

O’Toole said in a press release after the announcement that he was humbled by the trust bestowed upon him by the prime minister.

“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve our veterans and appreciate the Prime Minister’s confidence in me,” said O’Toole. O’Toole was elected in a byelection in 2012, after former minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda resigned.

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