OTTAWA - The chairman of an oft-maligned federal veterans appeal agency who took two taxpayer-funded junkets to Britain is insisting to a House of Commons committee that the trips were worthwhile.
Still, John Larlee — who heads the Veterans Review and Appeal Board — says he repaid the federal government for two trips to the Cambridge Lecture series.
The Canadian Press reported last May that Larlee's attendance at the lectures in 2009 and 2011, which were listed as professional development, cost $7,285.97.
Larlee also attended the lectures in 2007 with his wife, Justice Margaret Larlee of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, but paid out of his own pocket that time.
He told the Commons veterans affairs committee that he believes the lectures helped him in his capacity as board chairman, but repaid the money out of concern that veterans groups wouldn't agree.
Larlee says Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney didn't ask him to reimburse the cash — a statement that surprised Opposition members.