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New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.

"Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest."

Does anyone know if this is the same Tim Kerr who was the CO of HMCS Algonquin back in 2011-2012?
NavyPhoenix said:
"Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest."

Does anyone know if this is the same Tim Kerr who was the CO of HMCS Algonquin back in 2011-2012?

He is.
Thank you Grimey. Glad to see that he is doing ok. He was my CO on ALG and is a great guy.
Bumped w/the latest: Minister hires retired LCOL as Director Comms & Issue Management:
Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr has hired Norbert Cyr, a retired lieutenant-colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces and a former public servant and spokesperson to then chief of defence staff Walter Natynczyk, as his director of communications and issues management.

Mr. Cyr marked his first day on the job in Mr. Hehr’s office on March 29. Up until then, Mr. Cyr had been enjoying retirement since last summer following three years as a public affairs attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., with a focus on defence, security, and veterans’ issues, as described on his LinkedIn profile.

Having first joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1972, Mr. Cyr studied business administration and management at military college—at the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean in Quebec—before becoming a public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces in 1977. After serving as a public affairs officer for years, including at CFB Lahr in West Germany, and as an information officer, Mr. Cyr first retired from the military in 1996.

He then became director of corporate communications for Rheinmetall Canada (previously Oerlikon Aerospace) until 2005. That year, he travelled to Afghanistan as a contractor for a few months and soon after re-enrolled in the military, again serving as a public affairs adviser, including to DND Strategic Joint Staff.

In 2009, Mr. Cyr became senior public affairs adviser to then chief of defence staff, Mr. Natynczyk, providing strategic communications, issues management, and public affairs advice, according to his online profile. When a new chief of defence staff was named in 2012, Mr. Cyr took on a new role in Washington ...
More on the newest guy here (LinkedIn profile).
Ahhhh, so he hired a fall guy to take the upcoming flak of the broken promises :nod:
A Bagdad Bob of VAC?

George Wallace said:
OK?  What happened to Gen Natynczyk?  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective November 3, 2014 after being appointed previously to the Space Agency.

The internet still shows that he is still the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs. However, Walt seems uncharacteristically quiet behind the scenes. Much different from the Walt of old times right George. However I am quite sure that he is doing his best for us all.
George Wallace said:
OK?  What happened to Gen Natynczyk?  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective November 3, 2014 after being appointed previously to the Space Agency.
"Uncle Walt" is still the DM as of this post - the new guy works on the Minster's political team, not the bureaucratic one.

Former veterans ombudsman skeptical Liberals will fulfill promises to vets

Steve Mertl - Daily Brew - April 8, 2016

More than five years after being dumped as Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman, Pat Stogran’s bitterness seems not to have diminished.

If anything, the retired infantry colonel’s cynicism about Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and government in general has only deepened.

It spills out on almost every page of his memoir, “Rude Awakening: The Government’s Secret War Against Canada’s Veterans.” The self-published book has been available online through Amazon, Indigo and other outlets since January.

Last fall’s change of regime in Ottawa has done nothing to alter Stogran’s pessimism about the modern VAC, which he says remains resistant to innovative change and tightfisted even before the former Conservative government made penny-pinching a priority.

“This government has made all kinds of promises,” Stogran said in an interview with Yahoo Canada News. “I met with the minister [Kent Hehr] and I made very clear to him that it’s a cultural problem.

“A lot of the travesty is what happens underneath the deputy minister’s watch, which she doesn’t have eyes on. I gave him the advice that it’s the culture of denial that has to change.”

Stogran sympathizes with overworked frontline workers dealing with vets’ claims but said the department’s senior bureaucrats promote a culture of “deny, deceive, defer.”

Hehr was not available to talk about his meeting with Stogran but said in an emailed statement they had a “very frank” conversation about how veterans were treated under the previous government’s now-11-year-old New Veterans Charter.

“I have been given an aggressive mandate by the prime minister to address many of these concerns and in the months since my appointment we have made significant progress,” Hehr said.

“The recent federal budget delivers six of 15 mandate items and responds to recommendations from key stakeholders, including the veterans ombudsman.”

Stogran set up ombudsman’s office but turfed after three years

Stogran, whose 30-year-military career included tours in the war-torn former Yugoslavia and and as a battalion commander in Afghanistan, was appointed to the newly created office of Veterans Ombudsman in 2007. By August 2010 he was on his way out, informed he would not be reappointed when his term expired on Nov. 11.

A few days after getting the word, Stogran held a news conference castigating the government and senior public servants for a lack of commitment to the welfare of veterans, especially those who were wounded in combat, otherwise injured or suffering mental health problems.

The event brought the cold war between Stogran and the government into the open. He’d long ago concluded VAC’s lack of co-operation with his investigations and unwillingness to share information meant the Tories were never serious about the Veterans Ombudsman as an agent of change.

“As I say in the book, I didn’t want to burn any bridges but by the time the word came down that I wasn’t renewed I was looking for the trigger point for when I would become vocal because I realized at that point it was a charade,” he said.

Stogran claims the government spun the decision to turf him by characterizing him as difficult to work with, “all vinegar, no honey,” as he says in the book. He was praised in public for setting up the ombudsman’s office while adverse off-the-record comments were planted with some reporters.

To be sure, even during his military career Stogran did not shrink from expressing his opinions about the way things were done in Bosnia and Kandahar, outspokenness that sometimes dismayed those further up the chain of command. He accepted the ombudsman’s job in part because he’d been told he’d been assessed as a “Tier Two” officer, destined for staff jobs but not coveted field commands.

Stogran conceded his personality might have played a part but insisted he was always a good soldier.

“I am very much a strong-willed person but you go back to my military career, I did pretty well following orders for 30-odd years, including my time in Afghanistan, although that’s where the realization that there’s a hidden culture out there, that’s where the rude awakening really started,” he said.

After he took up his appointment, Stogran felt forced to dig in his heels again. He went in thinking his mandate empowered him not only help individual veterans but spot emerging problems within the system and suggest remedies. Time after time, Stogran writes, information was withheld by VAC and bureaucrats displayed intransigence.

“When I approached them to fix anything they basically told me to go away,” Stogran said.

The effort to spotlight the plight of homeless vets was a prime example, he said. Instead of dealing with the results of his office’s investigations, the minister admonished him for not providing names of individual homeless vets, something VAC staff should have been doing.

The same problem occurred with the New Veterans Charter, legislation which the Tories inherited from the previous Liberal government. Stogran argued replacing the lifetime disability pension with a lump-sum payment would short-change many veterans. Again, no movement.

Video At Link: Does the government care about injured veterans?
'This is just a gross political grandstanding effort on the eve of the auditor general's report next week,' says former veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran

Ministers ‘lied to my face,’ Stogran claims

The ministers who held the Veterans Affairs portfolio during his tenure “lied to my face,” by promising his office would be the “squeaky wheel” to fulfill Canada’s promise to veterans, Stogran told Yahoo.

“I was naively thinking that government might be ineffective, but not callous and intransigent,” he said.  “But what I saw them doing as the ombudsman was deliberate harm to Canadians.”

As relations chilled Stogran said he saw no point in trying to be more conciliatory.

“I don’t think we’d be anywhere right now because it was a result of my last act of defiance in August 2010 that the non-traditional veterans advocacy groups started to make a stand,” he said.

Stogran’s relationship with veterans groups was also problematic at times. He kept the organizations at arm’s length, he said in the book, viewing individual veterans as his “stakeholders.”

He holds a low opinion of the Royal Canadian Legion, which he said has not been publicly outspoken enough on the plight of disabled vets. It and other groups are too vulnerable to being co-opted by the department.

“The Legion was asleep at the switch,” Stogran told Yahoo. “All of those so-called veterans groups that existed at the time, they basically applauded the New Veterans Charter.”

Stogran also clashed with Sean Bruyea, a retired air force captain who’d become an outspoken advocate for disabled vets.

In an apparent effort to discredit him, Bruyea’s confidential medical files were circulated among hundreds of public servants. The Tory government eventually settled a $400,000 lawsuit he filed.

Bruyea, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said Stogran turned a blind eye to appeals for help made by a colleague on his behalf to cope with the stress of apparent VAC harassment. He testified to that effect before a parliamentary committee in May 2010, three months before Stogran was given notice his appointment would not be renewed.

“I was never actually at loggerheads with him,” Bruyea told Yahoo. “He obviously had an issue with me.

“I never had any confrontation with him up until his dismissal and he blamed me in part for his dismissal, which is a pretty far stretch. He felt there was people like me that had undermined him and his position.”

Bruyea sympathetic despite clash with Stogran

Still, Bruyea is sympathetic to the environment Stogran found himself in.

“In some ways I think he could have helped himself a lot more had he surrounded himself with more credible bureaucrats in his office,” said Bruyea. “He hired people straight out of Veterans Affairs, whose loyalty was clearly to Veterans Affairs. That was his first mistake.”

Playing nicely probably would not have gotten Stogran any further, said Bruyea because the whole idea of a truly independent ombudsman was anathema to the government.

“If Pat was going to speak his mind in any format, whether it’s conciliatory, accommodating, co-operating or as he was, quite aggressive, there was no way they were going to renew him,” he said.  “They didn’t want that office to succeed.”

Kenneth Young of Canadian Veterans Advocacy said Stogran initially tried to work through channels he’d learned as a field commander and later at National Defence Headquarters.

“For the most part all of his suggestions fell by the wayside tangled in bureaucratic red tape, government rhetoric and the do-nothing culture,” Young said via email.

Stogran is withholding judgment on the new Liberal government’s commitment to redressing the harm vets say was done by the Tories. The Liberals’ first budget last month included measures to reopen closed VAC offices and hire more staff to ease the case load. But It did not fulfill a key Liberal election promise, echoed in the minister’s mandate letter, to restore lifetime disability pensions, saying more consultation was needed.

“The cheque is in the mail,” said Stogran.

Stogran cherishes his military career and said he would do it all again. But would he recommend the soldier’s life to a young person today?

“No!” he replied emphatically. “It was with a heavy heart that I said that.”

It’s a tremendous lifestyle, Stogran explained, but he has no confidence now that soldiers injured on the job or wounded in combat will get the support they need from the Armed Forces or VAC.

“I don’t know why anybody would even stay in today, knowing it just takes one parachute descent and your life as you know it is ruined.”
Is this a cause for major concern?

Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act.

Has a well-intentioned minister of veterans affairs been co-opted by a cliché?
Secrecy reflexively defended with misinformation is the Veterans Affairs way of doing things over the past decade. Nothing has apparently changed under the new Liberal government.


PUBLISHED : Monday, April 11, 2016 12:00 AM

OTTAWA—”Plus ça change…” the more things stay the same is a humiliating truism for veterans. Has a well-intentioned minister of Veterans Affairs been co-opted by a cliché?

This past week, a ministerial advisory group met under highly surreptitious circumstances. Identity of members, their credentials, agendas, minutes, remuneration, confidentiality clauses and nomination process are all concealed as if this were a CSIS operation. Sadly, veterans whose future is affected by such meetings have been widely excluded.

Veterans Affairs and Associate Defence Minister Kent Hehr and his department have applied this template to five more advisory groups and to the closed-door discussions with the class-action lawsuit, Equitas. I have learned that most participants have been notified. Nevertheless, in an email to me on the eve of the first meeting of the policy group, the Department audaciously claims, “membership in these groups is still being finalized and will be made public in the coming weeks.” Secrecy reflexively defended with misinformation is the Veterans Affairs way of doing things over the past decade. Nothing has apparently changed under the new Liberal government.

Yet this is not what Prime Minister Trudeau promised. In a welcome breaking of precedent, cabinet ministers’ mandate letters were made public. They are an inspiration of open and accountable government. “It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default,” the mandate letter stresses.

Even under the Conservatives, almost every other federal department established advisory groups which often seek public nominations of individuals with an expertise in the relevant area. Advisory groups to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hold open hearings, accepting public input. The Ottawa Police Board holds monthly public meetings during which the public may express their “needs, concerns and priorities.” Isn’t such openness and transparency the bare minimum to ensure government “remains focused upon the people it serves”?

Unlike post-World War II, current Veterans Affairs programs predominantly serve only injured and disabled veterans. Yet, Hehr has included individuals who are neither disabled nor departmental clients. The usual suspects continue to participate after being complicit in the current mess. Many come from organizations that refuse to divulge their membership numbers. Three of the veteran organizations combined have 500 members or less. They provide no evidence that any of their membership is disabled. Others have no membership and no expertise in the group they sit on. Yet they are included with a sycophancy to government as Perry Gray of VeteranVoice.info described to me during a recent telephone conversation, “they’ll do anything government wants because the policies and programs don’t affect them.”

We do know that Canada’s second largest veterans’ organization with 7,800 verifiable veteran members, VeteransCanada(.ca), is excluded from the minister’s secretive groups. Its national president, Don Leonardo, is a registered lobbyist, a veteran representative who has followed the open and accountable government rules. Further excluded are VeteranVoice.info and its sister community, Canadian Soldier Assistance Team (CSAT). The CSAT community has 900 registered members sharing information and support on dealing with their injuries an average of 4,500 instances per month.

Along with Don Leonardo, excluded are Perry Gray, Harold Leduc and Wayne Johnston, injured veterans with some of the most recognized and respected expertise in injured veterans’ policy and programs. They are also the A-list of individuals who, along with me, have had their psychological injuries involuntarily or voluntarily disclosed. Senior Veterans Affairs bureaucrats and non-injured veterans have long stigmatized and misunderstood those with injuries, especially the psychological kind. Is Hehr falling victim to prejudice against psychologically injured veterans?

Imagine white burly male lumberjacks secretly meeting to advise the government of Canada on the status of aboriginal women. Absurd, yes? Veteran status does not confer insight into disabled veterans. It’s quite the opposite. Military culture has been and continues to be grossly insensitive to the injured, particularly the psychologically wounded. The veteran community is rife with malicious attacks on the wounded when they speak out. Yet speaking out is precisely what is needed for change to occur, including in the compassion-challenged senior bureaucratic culture at Veterans Affairs. Processes to create programs are as important as the programs themselves.

There is nothing about veterans that requires secrecy other than their personal files. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter emphasizes “inclusion, honesty…and generosity of spirit.” Thus far, Hehr’s first steps with his advisory groups has been anything but. Secrecy, insensitivity, and exclusion would be an apt de facto mission statement for Veterans Affairs Canada. Let’s hope this does not become the Liberal legacy.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.

TCBF said:
- Who shot Kent Hehr? Canadians have a right to know.

Martin Malaska, 22, the driver of the car from which the shot was fired was convicted of criminal negligence causing harm and given three years in prison after a witness in his car came forward a year after the drive-by. 
- See more at: http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/news/3298/shooting-victim-builds-new-life#.dpuf
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?
Teager said:
- See more at: http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/news/3298/shooting-victim-builds-new-life#.dpuf

- "His passenger got six months for pointing a firearm."

- Who fired the shot?
- Why the light sentences?
- How well 'connected' were these guys? Where are they today? Any more offences? Any priors?
- Is the judge's decision and case on file anywhere?
PuckChaser said:
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?

- Look up which 'veterans' agencies/activists donated how much to the Liberal Party. That is who was there. Firearms 'advisory' groups operate the same way. As do other groups. That is how governments pass out money to the people who won the last election for them whilst concurrently using these groups to shape the flow of their future legislation in a 'progressive' direction.
Sheep Dog AT said:
What does one thing have to do with the other?

- Well, if this was a gangland shooting, what gang was Hehr in? You don't see soft sentences like that when 'civilians' get shot. He is a Minister now. what did we miss?
- What has been swept under the rug?
Innocent people can get shot in a drive-by. Gangbangers aren't typically JTF2 snipers....
PuckChaser said:
Innocent people can get shot in a drive-by. Gangbangers aren't typically JTF2 snipers....

- Too many missing pieces here. A student paralysed by gunfire and we don't know who fired the shot? Who was the shooter, the Mayor's son? Something stinks. Too many people hoping this will just slide under the radar. So, now, a cabinet minister with a blank spot where a gangster put him in a wheelchair for life. stakes must be awfully high.
Who does he owe favours to?