Minister Responds to Ombudsman's Update

Mar 11 2011

Mr. Pierre Daigle
Ombudsman for the Department of
National Defence and the Canadian Forces
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th floor
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1

Dear Mr. Daigle:

Thank you for your correspondence of March 8, 2011, concerning the families of fallen Canadian Forces members.

As you acknowledged in your letter, the Department of National Defence has indeed worked diligently to develop a series of initiatives designed to improve the administrative investigation process. I believe these initiatives will contribute significantly in accelerating the Board of Inquiry investigative and review processes as well as ensuring the timely sharing of information with families. I am also convinced that the development of a solid spirit of collaboration between your staff and the Administrative Investigation Support Centre will assist greatly in expediting the process of closure for the families who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one.

With respect to your concerns on the specific files discussed in your letter, I provide the following updates:

Master Corporal Mark Allen

I am pleased to announce that the cardiologist review has been completed and that the Chief of the Air Staff has now forwarded the file to the Directorate of Casualty Support Management for review and final approval. After final approval, Mrs. Allen will be apprised of the outcome and provided with a copy of the report. We remain committed to keeping Mrs. Allen fully informed as to the status of the Summary Investigation into her husband's death.

Corporal Stephen Gibson

As you have observed, on December 20, 2010, the Gibson family met with Lieutenant-Colonel Hoekstra, Chief of the Land Staff G1 Investigations, and was provided with a complete copy of the Board of Inquiry report. Lieutenant-Colonel Hoekstra also responded to all questions posed by the family at that time. Mr. and Mrs. Gibson are currently reviewing the documents and remain in contact with Lieutenant-Colonel Hoekstra.

Officer Cadet Joe Grozelle

The Board of Inquiry was closed by the Chief of the Defence Staff on June 2, 2010, and the family has received a copy of the report. The Director of Casualty Support Management maintains regular contact with Mr. Grozelle.

As stated in my letter of December 2, 2010, to ensure that nothing was overlooked throughout the investigative process, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) requested that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Office of Investigative Standards and Practices conduct a review of the CFNIS investigation. CFNIS has received the resulting report and is reviewing it in consultation with the Ontario Provincial Police. This review will determine what, if any, further investigative action will be taken by the Ontario Provincial Police.

As you have observed, on February 16, 2011, the Director of Casualty Support Management advised Mr. Grozelle that CFNIS was not yet in a position to confirm the dates and attendees for a future meeting. I do note, however, that CFNIS wrote Mr. Grozelle on March 9, 2011, reiterating its commitment to communicate those details as soon as they become available.

Corporal Stuart Langridge

The Board of Inquiry report into the death of Corporal Langridge is being reviewed by the Chief of the Defence Staff. The meeting scheduled between CFNIS and the Fynes family had to be cancelled upon their request for their lawyer to attend the subject debrief. Neither CFNIS not the Military Police provide debriefs to legal representatives in anticipation of litigation. The family has notified the Department of its intention to pursue litigation and, as such, the file will now be referred to the Minister of Justice.

Although the Fynes family have expressed some concerns with regard to the investigation conducted by the Board of Inquiry, it would be premature to comment on those concerns before the report has been approved.  

Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet

The new Board of Inquiry into the death of Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet convened on February 18, 2011, in Valcartier, and as you noted, Ms. Marie-Chantal Ouellet, sister of the deceased, apprised the Board President, Lieutenant-Colonel Tardif, of the family's concerns during a meeting on February 24, 2011. She remains in regular communication with the Board President.

While a Convening Order may not reflect verbatim a question posed by a family, the finding on "whether any elements of military service may have contributed to the death" provides the President with a very broad scope to investigate all aspects of military service life, including postings and deployments.

Chief Warrant Officer Joel Sorbie

As you noted, the Director of Casualty Support Management has visited Mrs. Sorbie and provided her with a copy of the report. I am pleased to advise that Mrs. Sorbie stated that she was fully satisfied with the visit and thanked the Director of Casualty Support Management for his efforts.

I believe the renewed commitment shown by the senior leadership of the Canadian Forces to improve how they investigate sensitive issues and the desire to improve how they communicate with the families of the fallen throughout this process will alleviate many of your concerns. As always, the senior leadership of the Canadian Forces would be more than willing to meet with you and your staff to keep you apprised of the status of the files you are working on.


Peter MacKay


General Walter J. Natynczyk, CMM, MSC, CD
Chief of the Defence Staff

Vice-Admiral A.B. Donaldson, CMM, CD
Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

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