ARCHIVED - Letter to Chief of Military Personnel

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May 16, 2006

Rear-Admiral Tyrone Pile
Chief of Military Personnel
National Defence Headquarters
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2

Dear Rear-Admiral:

I am writing to express my sincere disappointment at the recent response of the Canadian Forces to Mrs. Christina Wheeler’s claim for compensation for the tragic death of her husband, Master Corporal Rick Wheeler, and for the unacceptable way in which the Canadian Forces handled this terribly unfortunate matter.

When I was first designated Ombudsman in August 2005, I was struck by the amount of time the Canadian Forces had taken to move on Mrs. Wheeler’s case (i.e., nine months) and, more significantly, by the fact that nothing of substance had been done on the file to that date. 

Since August 2005, I have called repeatedly on the Assistant Deputy Minister for Human Resources (Military) to ensure that the Canadian Forces lived up to its commitment to react with  “sympathetic consideration” to any claim put forward by Mrs. Wheeler. We have also sent the same message on numerous occasions to the lawyers on the case from the Claims and Civil Litigation Directorate. As I mentioned to the Director of Claims and Civil Litigation last week, the letter sent to Mrs. Wheeler is, in my view, completely inconsistent with the commitment that was made by the Canadian Forces to address this injustice.

I strongly urge you to reconsider the recent response to Mrs. Wheeler. I also urge you to send representatives to meet with Mrs. Wheeler’s lawyer in Victoria and to demonstrate the degree of openness and compassion to which Mrs. Wheeler and her families are clearly entitled. It is the right thing to do.

I will be following up on this matter with you and I will be posting this letter on my Internet site.

Yours sincerely,

Yves Côté, Q.C.

c.c.: Minister of National Defence
Deputy Minister of National Defence
Chief of the Defence Staff
Canadian Forces Legal Advisor

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