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Commons to vote on vets office closures, three days after lights went out

Ret. Sergeant Major Rene Bell gathers with other veterans at a Veterans Affairs Office in Brandon, Manitoba, on Friday, January 31, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith

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Ret. Sergeant Major Rene Bell gathers with other veterans at a Veterans Affairs Office in Brandon, Manitoba, on Friday, January 31, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith

OTTAWA - An opposition motion calling on the Conservative government to keep Veterans Affairs district offices open is expected to split along party lines and be defeated in a House of Commons vote later today.

The motion by the New Democrats responds to the closure last Friday of eight regional offices, and draws on public concern over a recent rash of military suicides.

Veterans advocate Barry Westholm was so outraged by MP Cheryl Gallant's comments during last week's debate on the issue that he gave up his membership in the Conservative party.

Westholm, a former sergeant major, said he was disillusioned and dismayed when he heard Gallant say that ex-soldiers with post traumatic stress have to overcome the "stigma within themselves" and seek treatment.

A spokesman for Gallant told the ex-soldier the longtime Ontario MP's remarks were taken out of context by the news media.

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