The Canadian Press
By Murray Brewster
Posted: Jan 10, 2016
Pat Stogran says he tried for years to get the former Conservative government to recognize the issue
Pat Stogran, who was Canada's first veterans ombudsman, says he is 'gob-smacked' that it took until 2014 for the federal government to begin tracking the issue of homelessness among veterans through a national database. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)Pat Stogran, Canada's first veterans ombudsman, vividly recalls being hauled into the minister's office one day in late 2008, where an angry, red-faced Greg Thompson — the veterans minister of the day — upbraided him for making public the issue of homelessness among ex-soldiers.
It was not an issue, Thompson allegedly told the extra infantry colonel, who had been selected for the watchdog post by a Conservative government eager to demonstrate that it was the best friend of the troops.
The encounter, chronicled in Stogran's book Rude Awakening: The Government's Secret War Against Canada's Veterans, was the beginning of the end of the rapport they'd enjoyed. And it eventually led to the Harper government not renewing Stogran's position in 2010.
Stogran says he tried unsuccessfully throughout his mandate to get the former Conservative government to recognize that homelessness among ex-soldiers was not only an issue, but a growing concern.
"They weren't going to do anything unless they got hit in the head with a hammer," said Stogran, who indicated the reluctance to acknowledge the problem extended to the veterans department as well.
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