With lawsuit looming, Fantino asks for clarity on Canada’s obligation to vets

OTTAWA – Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has asked a House of Commons committee to spell out precisely what kind of social and legal obligation Canada has to its soldiers.

The issue is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit underway in B.C., where veterans of the Afghan war say they are being discriminated against by Ottawa’s new benefits system.

The Conservatives, who bill themselves as champions of Canadian soldiers, faced intense criticism last summer when federal lawyers filed their defence in the court case.

Justice Department attorneys argued Canada has no extraordinary obligation to care for wounded and broken veterans, despite pledges of previous governments dating back to the First World War.

Fantino wants MPs to define what Canada’s shared duty and responsibility should be for possible inclusion in the veterans charter.

The Commons veterans committee is currently studying whether changes to the charter, made in 2011, are having the desired effect.

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