In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

An update to the debate on representing our veterans

Posted 4/28/2009 by Senator Grant Mitchell

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I wrote several days ago about the impasse between the government and opposition members of the Committee on National Security and Defence over convening the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Things have progressed.

The Conservative members want to set up the subcommittee right away and then wait for the Rules Committee of the Senate to approve a full standing committee on veterans.

My experience tells me that this process will take several years. It will be particularly slow because the Rules Committee is reviewing the entire 17 standing committee structure. This will be a slow and difficult process because the Conservatives want to reduce the number of committees and the Liberals want to establish several more. For instance, this would see a separate environment committee established, rather than the issue’s current merger with energy and natural resources.

On the issue of representing veterans, Liberals believe that a subcommittee of only 5 members meeting for only 1.5 hours per week is insufficient to properly handle this immensely important matter.

Now, and this is the new part, we Liberals have offered a compromise: we should set up a Special Committee on Veterans Affairs until a decision can be made on a full standing committee. The importance of this is that the Special Committee would essentially parallel a full standing committee. It would have as many as 12 members who could spread the work around and it would meet at least 4 hours per week.

This compromise seems absolutely reasonable. We will see how the negotiations progress and I will let you know.

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