Julian Fantino defends Veterans Affairs paying for tweets

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino is defending his department's spending of $100,000 in one year to promote its Twitter account.

Veterans affairs minister says social media necessary to reach Canadians

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino says his department spent $100,000 to promote its tweets to better reach Canadians. 2:37

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino is defending his department's spending of $100,000 in one year to promote its Twitter account.

In question period Wednesday, opposition MPs asked repeatedly why the department would spend the money to promote tweets from the Veterans Affairs Twitter account to other users.

NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer compared the spending to the costs of services for veterans.

"The Veterans Affairs Department found $100,000 to waste on tweets," said Stoffer, who's notoriously technology-averse.

That amount, Stoffer added, "can bury 10 veterans and give them a dignified funeral. It can give 20 veterans a service dog. It can give 40 veterans the VIP service. So where does the government get off spending $100,000 on tweets?"

Fantino said the department is using social media to reach Canadians.

"As more and more Canadians turn to social media, it is important that they too learn about the great accomplishments of Canadian veterans overseas and here at home," he said, before attacking the NDP for its spending.

"However, Mr. Speaker, the veterans I know would expect that if the NDP broke the rules, that they take responsibility to repay taxpayers immediately," Fantino said.

Remembrance Day reminders

A spokesman for Fantino told CBC News Tuesday that the money to pay to promote the tweets came from a separate budget, not one that pays for veterans' services.

Liberal MP Frank Valeriote called the promoted tweets "more Conservative waste on self-promotion," adding Veterans Affairs spent $88,000 alone on promoting Remembrance Day tweets.

"There are few veterans or Canadians for that matter that need $88,000 in tweeted reminders for when Remembrance Day is," Valeriote said.

"Why is he spending necessary funds looking good instead of spending money doing good for our veterans?"

Fantino said the government is serving veterans.

"We are in fact communicating clearly and in plain language so veterans can, and their families as well, access quickly information that is important to them," Fantino said.


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