Nova Scotia

Soldier Neil Dodsworth drops home-sale suit against Canadian Forces

A Canadian soldier is giving up his fight to reclaim the $72,000 he lost selling his home during a relocation for the Canadian Forces.

'The military teaches you to ... come out fighting. In this case, it didn't help,' says Dodsworth

Master Warrant Officer Neil Dodsworth retires later this month, ending 35 years of service with the Canadian Forces. (CBC)

A Canadian soldier is giving up his fight to reclaim the $72,000 he lost selling his home during a relocation for the Canadian Forces.

"It leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. There's nothing I can do," Master Warrant Officer Neil Dodsworth said Friday. "We're just moving on."

He lost the money in 2008, when the military moved him from Morinville, Alta., near CFB Edmonton, to Kingston, Ont., in 2009. 

The crashing property market devalued his home in the nearby town of Morinville, but he believed the military's Home Equity Assistance program would ensure he lost no money.

However, he was offered only $15,000 and had the rest of his application turned down, leaving him out of pocket for tens of thousands of dollars.

Similar case dismissed

Dodsworth launched the lawsuit at the Halifax office of the Federal Court of Appeal in September 2014 to try and get the money back.

But earlier this year, Maj. Marcus Brauer lost a similar case in a federal court. Justice Robert Barnes dismissed Brauer's case and said he was treated fairly under the government relocation policy. 

"It is not the role of this Court to rewrite the government relocation policy for CF members which, without doubt, imposes most of the financial risk of home equity losses on CF members who are required to relocate," wrote Barnes. 

Dodsworth mulled over his own case's chances and spoke to his lawyers at McInnes Cooper. They agreed there was no prospect of winning and dropped it.

"Never sacrifice three things: your family, your heart and your dignity," Dodsworth said. "It's saying goodbye. It's saying there's nothing else I can do. I like a good fight and the military teaches you to be on your defensive, to come out fighting. In this case, it didn't help."

Hope for parliament to take action

Dodsworth spoke with Matt DeCourcey, the MP in Fredericton, about changing the policy itself. Dodsworth says the best chance to reform the policy lies in parliament.

DeCourcey was unavailable for an interview on Friday.

Dodsworth's last official day is Aug. 22, though he's on retirement leave already. That'll close 35 years of service around the world.

"The military has given me so much. As a whole, I can't deny that they've been good and fair," he said.

He and his family live in Oromocto, N.B., now, near the CFB Gagetown base, and he's seeking post-Forces work.

"Hopefully I'll find something close to base, if not on base, and I'll be happy," said Dodsworth.

With files from the CBC's Richard Cuthbertson

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