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Former legion chaplain 'livid' over Veterans Affairs revelations

11/21/2014 06:00 EST | Updated 01/21/2015 05:59 EST
A minister from Kenora, Ont. says revelations that more than a billion dollars meant for veterans has been returned to the Treasury Board proves the point that resulted in her losing her job as a legion chaplain.

Rev. Sandra Tankard offered to resign as chaplain of the Kenora legion after her Remembrance Day remarks about cuts to veterans services drew criticism from some legion members, including local Conservative MP Greg Rickford. Tankard's resignation was accepted on Monday.

Later in the week data tabled in the House showed that Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006.

"I was absolutely livid, nothing less, that the member of parliament should tell me that it is untrue that they weren't supporting veterans," Tankard said. 

'Kick in the teeth' to Afghan vets

Rickford refused to comment when asked earlier this week about Tankard's Remembrance Day remarks. But both Tankard and legion president Jerry Lava said Rickford had expressed concerns to them about the overtly political tone of her service.

Tankard says now that she is no longer a chaplain at the legion she feels more freedom to speak her mind.

"That is money that rightly belonged to Veterans Affairs to provide the service to the Afghan vets and that they have returned it to the treasury so [Finance Minister] Joe Oliver can say we have a surplus is, well, it's beyond words," Tankard said. "It's just beyond words."

Tankard said the lack of spending for veterans services is "a kick in the teeth to the soldiers, the Afghan vets, who are still struggling with PTSD."

"I will be writing yet again to my member of parliament," she added. "Not that he listens anyway."

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