New veterans ombudsman appointed

A retired chief warrant officer, Guy Parent, has been named Canada's new veterans ombudsman.
Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, right, presents the new veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, at a Parliament Hill news conference Friday. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))
Guy Parent, a retired chief warrant officer, will be Canada's new veterans ombudsman.

Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn announced Friday that Parent will replace Pat Stogran, the retired colonel who led a controversial campaign to improve benefits for veterans.

Parent, who has been with the Canadian Forces for 37 years and was at one point the military's highest-ranking non-commissioned member, was Stogran's director of investigations. Before that he worked for seven years in the military's own ombudsman office.

Parent's term begins on Remembrance Day.

"I think we found the best person," Blackburn said on CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, citing Parent's experience.

Earlier this year, the government decided not to extend the mandate of Stogran, the first person to hold the post of veterans ombudsman. Stogran had been in the role for three years. Parent was appointed to a five-year term.

Stogran was a sharp critic of the federal bureaucracy's treatment of injured soldiers and of policies such as the replacement of pensions with lump-sum payments and disability stipends. He has said Veterans Affairs has adopted a "penny-pinching, insurance-company mentality" toward its clients.

On Power & Politics, Stogran said Parent wouldn't have been his choice to be the new ombudsman.

"But, at the same time, he's doing a very important job," Stogran added. "I congratulate him for it. I wish him all the best of luck, and I hope that he gets the support from the veteran community that I’ve enjoyed for the last three years."

Stogran said he thought he was let go because it "was time for new ideas, not new ideas from within."

"It’s somebody from within, so the ideas aren’t going to be all that new," he said. "There may be a change, of course, but with the five-year mandate, does that mean that he’s going to be closer to government over the next five years?"