Politics

New veterans ombudsman to be less 'vocal'

Canada's new ombudsman for veterans affairs said Thursday he'll try to keep "buoyant" the issues raised by his predecessor, Pat Stogran.

Canada's new ombudsman for veterans affairs said Thursday he'll try to keep "buoyant" the issues raised by his predecessor, Pat Stogran.

"Mr. Stogran has brought the issues to the surface," Guy Parent said in an interview with the CBC News program  Power and Politics.

"I think my responsibility is to keep them buoyant now and to make sure we separate the issues into 'chunkable' pieces and that we can provide specific recommendations based on the issues."

But Parent, whose term began Thursday, made it clear he would be taking a different approach to the role than Stogran did.

"I would definitely say so," he said, laughing, when asked if he and Stogran had different styles.

"Sometimes you accomplish much more through negotiations than you do by being vocal."

Stogran became a vocal critic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the last six months of his three-year term.

In August, he lashed out at the department for being "deliberately obstructionist and deceptive" rather than helping injured soldiers. He also said one government official told him that soldiers were less of a liability if they died in war rather than coming back to Canada injured.

On Thursday, Parent acknowledged that "things are not quite as they should be" within the department. But he stopped short of calling them completely broken, saying that "is a bit unrealistic."

He also suggested Stogran had damaged the reputation of the department when he became "more of an advocate" than a director.

"When you cross that line over to the advocacy side, it means, unfortunately, … you lose the credibility of the department," he said.

In his own interview with Power and Politics on Nov. 5, Stogran said Parent, who served 37 years in the military, was too much of an insider to be effective.

"It's somebody from within, so the ideas aren't going to be that new," he said.

Parent brushed the criticism off, saying the inside knowledge "facilitates the transition, because I know the issues."