Shake-up underway at Veterans Affairs

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OTTAWA – Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino is losing a key staff member in yet another sign that a major shake-up is underway in the politically troubled portfolio.

Jacques Fauteux, Fantino’s chief of staff and top adviser, revealed today that he is leaving, effective immediately.

His departure comes just days after retired general Walt Natynczyk, the country’s former top military commander, took over as deputy minister, the department’s top civil servant.

Natynczyk’s appointment, announced by the prime minister at the end of October, was seen as a move by the Conservatives to get a handle on a file that has caused the government a lot of grief.

Angry veterans promised again this week to campaign against the Conservatives in next year’s election, citing grievances about benefits and the closure of Veterans Affairs offices.

Fantino was involved in a testy exchange with ex-soldiers on Parliament Hill last winter and also walked away from an angry military wife last spring — two televised incidents that made him appear less than sympathetic to the plight of the wounded and their families.