The Conservatives will force the Liberals to vote Tuesday night on whether to revoke veterans’ benefits going to a convicted killer who never served in the military.
But it remains to be seen whether any members of the government will break ranks and call on the minister to act.
Opposition began debate Tuesday morning on a motion calling on Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan to revoke the veterans benefits being given to Christopher Garnier to pay for the cost of treatment for the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he claims he got from murdering an off-duty police officer in 2015.
Garnier is serving a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole before 13.5 years served for the crime.
Despite never having served in the Canadian Forces, his application for benefits was approved because his father is a veteran who told the court that getting PTSD treatment for his son would help him too.
That decision has prompted widespread outrage, including from veterans who face wait times of up to seven months to get similar benefits for their own families.
“We want them put in the situation where they have to vote on this,” said Phil McColeman, Conservative MP for Brantford-Brant who is sponsoring the motion.
“I’ve had several conversations with both NDP and Liberal members who say they are very concerned … how they vote will be up to them.”
WATCH BELOW: Case of convicted murderer getting PTSD treatment under veterans’ services to be studied
O’Regan announced during question period the government is changing the rules to stop Veterans Affairs Canada from giving benefits to family members if they are in federal or provincial prison.
But he made it clear that change will not apply to the Garnier case when asked whether it would work retroactively.
“The policy is to provide scrutiny to all future decisions,” he said. “All future decisions will now have an elevated level of scrutiny.”
McColeman said changing the policy is one thing but is not what he was asking for in his motion.
“They obviously have had some kind of awareness that the policy needs to change. Good on them,” he said.
“That’s not what our motion is today.”
O’Regan has defended the policy which allowed this to happen, despite calling it “frustrating” and vowing last month to look into it.
LISTEN: Michelle Rempel joins Danielle Smith to discuss her criticism of the Liberal government in paying for Christopher Garnier’s PTSD treatments
“Again, I won’t apologize for looking after a veteran’s family members … but I do know that we have to take a look at this.”
He doubled down on those comments during debate on Tuesday following a question from McColeman asking him to resign if he would not act to revoke benefits being paid to a convicted murderer.
O’Regan refused, saying the case is not about protecting Garnier’s father.
“This is not the case of protecting a murderer,” O’Regan said. “This is a case of protecting a veteran.”
McColeman said that’s not the case and if there is more to the case than meets the eye, O’Regan should spell that out.
“If there’s something at play here that we don’t know about, he needs to come clean,” he said.
“I don’t buy that argument.”
A vote on the motion is scheduled for 5:45 PM EST.