VLAF Board Members
A well-known former member of Parliament and a long-time supporter of veterans’ rights, Peter is Chair of the VLAF. Peter served as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Sackville-Eastern Shore from 1997 to 2015. From 2011-2015, he served as the Official Opposition Critic for Veterans Affairs. During this time, Peter was named Canada’s Parliamentarian of the year 2013, and received the Veterans Ombudsman award. Peter has been knighted into the Order of St. George and also has been knighted by the King of the Netherlands into the Order of Orange Nassau. Peter is highly-regarded in his community and a strong advocate for Canadian military veterans and their service needs.
An experienced litigator, Peter was lead counsel on the Supreme Court case, Manuge v. Her Majesty The Queen, resulting in the recovery of approximately $900 million dollars for over 8,000 disabled former members of the Canadian Forces. In addition, Peter was counsel in the matter of White v. Her Majesty The Queen, a similar action to Manuge, seeking the recovery of disability benefits wrongly offset from benefits payable to disabled former members of the RCMP. Peter also initiated the class action of King v. The Province of Nova Scotia ultimately resulting in the return of monies to participants in the Nova Scotia Immigrant Nominee Program.
Gillian Federico, CD, Major (Retired)
Gillian is System Chaplain and Faith Formation Lead with the Halton Catholic District School Board and a member of the Toronto Scottish Regiment. She was the first Roman Catholic Pastoral Associate Chaplain to serve with an Army Reserve Unit, where she was promoted to major as Brigade Chaplain 32 Canadian Brigade Group in 2000. As an Army Reservist, she also worked as a consultant to the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, until she took early ‘retirement’ in 2008 to undertake full-time ministry with the Canadian Armed Forces. Gillian has always seen advocacy for the needs of serving members and veterans as an important part of her role. She has gone to bat on a number of occasions in pursuit of justice for the vulnerable – especially veterans and the elderly.
Robert Smol, CD, Captain (retired)
Robert Smol served in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves for over 20 years enrolling as a Private in the Infantry and retiring in 2004 as a Captain in the Intelligence Branch. He moved with his family to Nova Scotia in 2020 after a long career in education. He holds degrees from McGill, Queen’s and the Royal Military College and is currently completing a Ph.D in Military History from the University of New Brunswick. Robert is also a licensed Paralegal for the Province of Ontario and holds a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Centennial College in Toronto. He has written extensively over the years on military, veteran and education issues for the CBC, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star and various other newspapers and magazines.
J Robert Walsh MB CD
A life-long volunteer, Robert Walsh has been awarded the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery (MB), the Ombuds Commendation, the Minister of Veteran’s Affair Commendation, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD). Robert received his own “Grant of Arms,” on July 20, 2017; Volume VI, page 743. A teacher by profession and temperament, he taught in Nova Scotia, Nigeria, Nunavut, and Ontario. Robert is currently on the Executive of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 15, and has been a member of the Legion for over 25 years. Having sailed the Panama Canal with the Sea Cadets at 15, Robert served five years as an Officer with the Cadet Program and 14 years in the Army Reserves with The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment). Robert also has tracked a polar bear, participated in whale hunt where food went directly to the Cape Dorset community, and survived a military coup in Nigeria.
Sandra is the Executive Director of VLAF. She is a communications specialist with a 25-year track-record leading teams in writing, marketing, advertising, media relations, event planning and customer feedback. She provided communications advice to the SISIP Class Action team for many years, and worked directly with veterans who were members of the class. Sandra has a Bachelor of Journalism (Hons) from University of King’s College, and worked as a reporter early in her career. Sandra grew up in a Canadian Forces family, and continues to have strong connections with her family’s military history and friends.