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The Globe and Mail

Outgoing watchdog deplores 'how our vets are being treated'

Colonel Pat Stogran, then commander of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, is shown near Kandahar in April of 2002.

The Canadian Press

Pat Stogran relaxed Monday night by watching some Ultimate Fighting Championship re-runs and polishing his shoes as he prepared to speak out in Ottawa about how Canada treats its returning veterans.

"Press conference today. It's hard for me not to get angry when I think how our vets are being treated!" he wrote Tuesday morning on his personal Twitter account.

The retired colonel dodged bullets in Serbia in the 1990s and led the first Canadian battalion to land in Afghanistan in 2002, scoping out what he called the dirty and cold terrain around Kandahar. But when Col. Stogran speaks Tuesday afternoon in the National Press Theatre, it will likely be his final formal comments as Canada's first Veterans Ombudsman.

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He was appointed to the position by the Harper government in 2007. In the job, he became increasingly critical of how Canada treats its soldiers returning from Afghanistan, suggesting some are even at risk of becoming homeless.

The government recently announced that his three-year term will not be renewed.

Because he blogs and has two Twitter accounts ( personal and professional), readers can get a sense of what he is likely to say.

While the Prime Minister and cabinet made the decision not to extend his appointment, it is clear from his online comments that he blames federal bureaucrats for the policy decisions he believes are unfair to veterans.

"At no time have I ever suggested that the source of the systemic problems is 'the Harper Government,' " he wrote in a July 13 blog post.

A more recent entry blames officials for failing to honour Canada's veterans.

"What seems to be missing from any official correspondence anywhere is the principle of honouring Veterans by generously providing benefits without stripping the dignity of those who have sacrificed themselves unconditionally for their country," he says in a July 19 blog post.

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"Does anyone have any idea of what the employees of Private Military Companies are paid to serve in dangerous areas such as Afghanistan? That is a rhetorical question, but it goes without saying that they are paid a damn-site more than any of our CF or RCMP personnel are!"

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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