Published on June 14, 2011
Sandy Brace, left, Fabien Melanson, and John MacDoanld, sit in front of the Daniel J. MacDonald Building in Charlottetown. An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to Melanson, the protesting ex-soldier, on a hunger strike for the past 10 days.
Published on June 09, 2011
Fabien Melanson is staging a hunger strike in front of Veterans Affairs Canada headquarters in Charlottetown.
Future of Fabien Melanson's hunger strike unclear
An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to a protesting ex-soldier on a hunger strike for the past 10 days.
A spokesperson for Fabien Melanson, a Cape Pele, N.B. resident who has been on the hunger strike in front of the VAC headquarters in Charlottetown since early June 5, said the veteran was taken into the department by senior officials Tuesday and offered a personal apology.
It’s still unclear whether Melanson accepted the apology.
It’s also unclear whether VAC offered any additional financial assistance to Melanson, who had demanded both an apology and for the department to help repair his house.
The apology came one day after Charlottetown MP Sean Casey brought the issue up in question period in Ottawa.
Casey had also posted a comment on Facebook that night regarding Melanson’s strike.
“We have a veteran who is prepared to die on the front steps of DVA. Is it too much to ask for the minister to direct someone to discuss his case?” Casey wrote.
Veterans Affairs Minister Stephen Blaney had told Casey in question period that he, and two previous VAC ministers, had already extended apologies.
But Melanson was quick to disagree.
“The apology letters were for their original mistake. They never apologized for what happened after,” said Melanson.
He said he was protesting a clerical error made by VAC in 2004, which resulted in his pension cheques being deposited into someone else’s account.
?Melanson said the mistake caused him to lose his home because he had been in the middle of home renovations at the time and was forced to cancel contractors, leaving his house with no furnace. Mould then left the house uninhabitable.
The stress of trying to correct the mistake through VAC caused Melanson’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to kick back in, leading to an eventual suicide attempt.
The department compensated Melanson for the missed cheques once they realized the mistake in early 2005.
A spokesperson for Melanson said the veteran hasn’t decided how to take the apology or whether the hunger strike will continue.
As of Tuesday noon, Melanson had gone more than 260 hours without eating and had lost 27 pounds.
Canadian country music star Julian Austin, a native of Sussex, N.B., has offered to help Melanson in his search of funds to repair his home if VAC refuses to offer financial compensation.