Canada's Treatment Of Petter Blindheim, Elderly Veteran, Upsets Norwegian MP

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HALIFAX — A senior member of the Norwegian foreign affairs parliamentary committee says Ottawa's refusal to admit a 94-year-old to a veteran's hospital in Halifax is disrespectful to the sailors who fought for the allies in the Second World War.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde, the defence spokesman for the Progress Party, says he plans to bring the case of Petter Blindheim forward to government ministers in the coalition government formed by the ruling Conservatives and his political party.

Tybring-Gjedde says the media and political attention devoted to the Blindheim case has been light so far in Norway, but he expects that may change if the decorated veteran of Norway's navy and merchant marine doesn't receive a spot at the hospital.

petter blindheim
Petter Blindheim, a 94-year-old veteran of the Norwegian Royal Navy, receives Norway's Commemorative Medal from Col. Sigurd Iversen of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, in Halifax on Thursday, June 16, 2016. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/CP)

Blindheim was initially rejected for placement at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial hospital on the basis that Norway had "surrendered" and members of the Royal Norwegian Navy who continued to fight weren't considered allied veterans.

Ottawa recanted that position, but then rejected Blindheim — who has been falling and has a broken arm — because it said he could be sent to a provincial facility where Ottawa will still pay his daily costs.

Cut through 'all the red tape'

A spokeswoman for the federal minister of Veterans Affairs says that while Ottawa fully funds the care needs of any veteran, including Norwegians, it isn't always possible to do so in the facility of the veteran's choosing.

The family has said there is a lengthy waiting list for provincial homes, and adds that Blindheim would prefer to be with other veterans at the Halifax hospital — which receives a higher daily subsidy than the average provincial nursing home.

Tybring-Gjedde says he's calling on Canadian officials to cut through "all the red tape, immediately reverse the decision and treat Mr. Blindheim with the respect he deserves."

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