justice – fairness – equity
EQUITAS News Release ~ www.equitassociety.ca
Equitas Society comment to Omar Khadr settlement
July 13, 2017 – Vancouver, Canada – The Equitas Society is calling on the Canadian government to uphold its obligations and respect the Charter rights of Canadian disabled soldiers, with claims under the New Veterans Charter, as it has for a war combatant in Afghanistan, Omar Khadr. The Canadian government must now acknowledge its obligations to our veterans and restore lifelong pensions and fair compensation to these disabled soldiers.
In 2012, six disabled Afghan war veterans launched a legal action against the Canadian government for their disproportionally low disability benefits compared to what was available to similarly disabled soldiers prior to 2006 when the New Veterans Charter was introduced. The New Veterans Charter (NVC) stripped disabled veterans of lifelong disability pensions and replaced them with a lump sum settlement process that in many cases amounts to a fraction of what previous veterans received. In response, the Canadian government argued in the British Columbia Supreme Court that Canada has no “social contract” between members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the government and people of Canada. Rather than acknowledge the unique and selfless contributions of Canadian veterans, and the corresponding duty to provide for them in the event of disability, the government continues to litigate with its disabled veterans.
In 2015, Justin Trudeau campaigned on his promise to restore lifelong pension benefits for disabled soldiers and end their legal battle against the Canadian government. Once in power, Prime Minster Trudeau broke his promise and has continued the fight with disabled soldiers on the basis that there is no social contract and his government can do as they please.
Mr. Trudeau has, however, acknowledged Canada’s obligations to a Canadian citizen who was a hostile combatant, Omar Khadr. Equitas insists that the rights of disabled veterans are no less important than Mr. Khadr’s, or those of any other citizen; yet, rather than providing them with equitable compensation for their service-related injuries, the Canadian government continues to engage in litigation with its disabled veterans.
Mr. Khadr’s claim for the breach of his rights has resulted in an apology and a multimillion dollar settlement. Injured Canadian veterans are facing many years of costly and emotionally draining litigation, while many are disabled and unable to adequately provide for themselves or their families. The Equitas Society considers this to be absolutely unacceptable.
“In all my years of legal practice I have never witnessed a more deserving group of individuals deprived of so much by their own government”, says Don Sorochan, lead counsel for six disabled soldiers fighting the Canadian government for disability benefits.
“I know many Canadians are outraged by Mr. Khadr receiving over ten million dollars of tax payer money, but every Canadian should be even more outraged that Prime Minister Trudeau is treating our disabled veterans so very poorly”, says Marc Burchell, president of Equitas Society. “The Equitas Society and its legal team remain committed to obtaining fair compensation for our disabled veterans.”
CONTACT: Marc Burchell 604-616-7933, Don Sorochan 604-488-4731 or Gerry Lenoski 604-813-1762