Nova Scotia’s premier is questioning the justification for Veterans Affairs Canada’s decision to pay for the PTSD treatment of a Halifax man who murdered an off-duty police officer and used a compost bin to dispose of her body.
In an interview Thursday, Stephen McNeil said he was initially “stunned and shocked” by the department’s help for Christopher Garnier and he made that point in recent conversations with Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan and with Scott Brison, Nova Scotia’s regional representative in cabinet.
“I don’t believe anyone in their drafting of this policy to look after military families believed that it would be looking after a convicted killer in our province, and I strongly voiced that issue with the federal government and with my colleagues and they will look into it,” said McNeil.
In a statement issued late Wednesday O’Regan said he would be “looking into how and why this decision was made,” but defended Veterans Affairs and its PTSD treatment for vets and their families.
Wed, Aug 29: Veterans Affairs Canada is standing by its decision to foot the bill for the post-traumatic stress disorder treatments of a convicted murderer who never served as member of the Canadian Forces, but whose father did. Steve Silva has more.
McNeil said he also supports the policy that offers help to the families of veterans, and he cautioned that any examination of what was done should be specific to Garnier’s case only.
“There is no way for me personally that we can justify that we are doing this. But we need to be mindful that we look specifically to this case … as opposed to what this policy was in place for, looking after families of veterans who have been impacted.”
Garnier was convicted in December of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body in the September 2015 death of 36-year-old Catherine Campbell, an off-duty Truro police officer.
At a court hearing this month, a Crown lawyer confirmed Garnier is being seen by a private psychologist, and that Veterans Affairs is covering the cost because his father is a veteran who has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The decision by Veterans Affairs has also drawn fire from the federal Conservatives, who have called on O’Regan to reverse it.
Earlier this month, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge decided Garnier would be able to apply for parole after serving 13.5 years of a life sentence – less 699 days for time served.
Garnier’s lawyer has argued his client’s mental illness was brought on by the murder. Joel Pink has said in filed court submissions that a psychiatrist hired by the defence said in a report that Garnier suffered from acute stress disorder immediately following Campbell’s death.