Scott Brison urged to take fresh look at real estate dispute with soldiers
Group of military members suing Ottawa over tens of thousands of dollars lost during moves
A Canadian soldier at CFB Halifax is urging Canada's new Treasury Board president, Liberal MP Scott Brison, to take a fresh look at a dispute involving dozens of military members who suffered steep financial losses when forced to sell their homes.
The request comes as federal government lawyers are pushing ahead with their efforts to have the courts toss out a proposed class-action lawsuit launched on behalf of those members.
The members claim they are entitled to compensation under a federal home-equity assistance program after they were posted to new locations and sold their homes during local housing market downturns. Many lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Under the rules, a military member can receive 100 per cent compensation if they sell in a so-called depressed market. The dispute revolves around what is considered a depressed market and the lawsuit claims the Treasury Board, which ultimately controls compensation, is refusing to pay.
But as the proposed class action continues to grind through the courts, some of those involved are hoping the new Liberal government — and King-Hants MP Brison — will change the course.
"I would hope that Mr. Brison would look at the evidence before him," says Maj. Marcus Brauer, a father of five who lost $88,000 when forced to sell his home in Bon Accord, Alta., after the military posted him to Halifax. He was only compensated $15,000.
"Instead of making soldiers go into court to get their entitlements, that they would follow the applicable policy in the way that it was intended so that soldiers wouldn't have to suffer hardship when they're posted every two to three years."
Brauer has waged his own court battle against the federal government. Last year, a Federal Court judge ruled the Treasury Board was unreasonable in denying Brauer compensation, sending his case back to be considered a second time. Justice Richard Mosley even ordered the federal government pay Brauer's legal costs.
Brauer, however, will be back in court again on Jan. 19 after the Treasury Board once again rejected his claims for compensation earlier this year.
Also making its way through the courts is a proposed class action lawsuit, launched by Master Warrant Officer Neil Dodsworth, who now serves at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick..
He lost $72,000 when forced to sell his home in Morinville, Alta., after he was posted from CFB Edmonton to CFB Kingston by the Canadian Forces in 2009.
In October, a Federal Court judge turned down a bid by lawyers with the federal Justice Department to have the proposed class action struck down. The government had argued the policy is clear and there were no false statements made to personnel.
But the federal government quietly filed for an appeal last month and continues to seek an order to strike the lawsuit.
"The way this is going, I believe they are just trying to ... get more time," Dodsworth said in an interview from his home in Oromocto, N.B. "In my view they're just seeing if anyone bows out of this case."
A spokesperson for the Treasury Board says it will not comment on the case as it is before the courts.