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Today on the Hill: veterans speak out against shutdown of local service offices

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OTTAWA - A number of military veterans are in Ottawa today to denounce government plans to close Veterans Affairs district offices in communities across the country.

The veterans, along with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, are holding a news conference to warn that the closures will mean hardships for aging veterans forced to travel long distances for services.

The offices are being closed as a cost-saving measure; the government insists veterans can still access many services online.

Other events in and around Parliament Hill today:

— Question period, where the Opposition is expected to continue hammering the governing Conservatives over the Senate expense scandal;

— Interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier issues a special report on privacy protection in an era of cyber-surveillance, which will include recommendations for improving oversight of national security;

— Statistics Canada releases a new study that looks at the number of people who find work after leaving long-term jobs;

— A news conference with cabinet ministers Tony Clement, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Maxime Bernier and Ed Fast to outline the government's progress in reducing red tape;

— Parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Frechette speaks to the Senate finance committee about how the government is planning to spend money as part of the current fiscal year's main estimates;

— The Commons international trade committee continues to examine the recently-signed Canada-European Union free trade agreement;

— Ice carvers transform Ottawa's Confederation Park into a Crystal Garden as part of the city's Winterlude festivities.

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