Conservatives promise bill of rights for veterans

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Wednesday that his government would create a Veterans' Bill of Rights to end the "shameful way" veterans have been treated by the government.

A Conservative government would create a veterans bill of rights to end the "shameful way" they have been treated by the government, party leader Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

The bill of rights would demand that veterans be treated with respect and that any disputes be handled quickly and fairly, Harper said on a campaign stop in Victoria, surrounded by members of the Royal Canadian Legion.

He said dispute resolutions should favour the rights of veterans.

"All too often we hear stories of veterans who are ignored or disrespected by government," Harper said. "What a shameful way to treat men and women who risked their lives to defend Canada. This shame will end with the election of a new government."

The bill of rights would be enforced by an ombudsman for veterans, Harper said following a holiday break in campaigning for the Jan. 23 federal election.

He added that he would take action to compensate aboriginal veterans whose contributions have long been ignored.

The Conservative government would also conduct a complete review of health-care services for veterans to ensure they meet their needs, Harper said.

This is the second policy announcement Harper has made in two days. On Tuesday, he promised to base military disaster-response teams in several Canadian cities.

Before the Christmas break began, all the federal party leaders had said they would not campaign between Christmas and New Year except for some minor appearancesin or near their home ridings.