HAMILTON, Ont. – The mother of a dead Canadian soldier sent a one-penny payout cheque received a formal apology from Canada’s defence minister on Thursday along with a promise to take another look at whether his death was related to his military service.
Breaking her public silence, Denise Stark said she thanked Rob Nicholson for the apology, which came in a morning phone call after days of questions in the House of Commons.
“I explained how our wounds had been re-opened since receiving the cheque,” Stark said.
“He acknowledged how insensitive this was.”
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In October 2011, 10 months after returning from a seven-month tour in Afghanistan, Cpl. Justin Stark, 22, killed himself.
The family of the reservist with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada had considered his estate long settled when the cheque for one cent in her son’s name – dated Feb. 28 – arrived from Public Works.
The cheque was marked “CF Release Pay.”
Stark said she didn’t believe the incident was malicious or personal.
Nicholson promised to take a look at a military board-of-inquiry finding that the soldier’s death was not related to his experiences serving in Afghanistan, said Stark, her husband at her side.
“Wayne and I continue to be dissatisfied at the board’s confident conclusion that Justin’s tour in Afghanistan did not cause him trauma,” his mother said.
Stark stressed there would be no financial gain in having his death linked to his military service.
“It only involves having the recognition that those who died in theatre also have.”
Nicholson called the incident a “bureaucratic screw-up.”
He also promised to investigate to see whether the same thing had happened to others with the aim of ensuring it did not happen again.
“The death of a child is tragic but a death related to war … I just don’t have the words to describe,” she said choking up.
“Then add to that, a death by suicide – it just adds another layer to my grief.”
Wayne Stark thanked Nicholson for taking the situation seriously, and New Democrat MP Wayne Marston, who raised the issue in the Commons.
“We also hope this will help to bring positive changes to the treatment of our veterans and the families of our fallen,” he said.
In Ottawa on Wednesday, Treasury Board President Tony Clement accused a civil servant of making “a very insensitive and terrible error.”
He said the individual involved “should come forward and apologize.”
Donna Lackie, president of the Government Services Union, said this week the data and information used to create the Public Works cheque would have come from the Department of National Defence.
The department would have no way of knowing why the cheque was requested, or the background of the person whose name was on it, she said.
“It’s not the first time a one-cent cheque has gone through,” Lackie said.
The Simcoe Reformer reported that in 2011 that Stark spent much of his tour of duty working to secure the town of Nakhonay, a small village 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city squarely in the heart of Taliban territory.
Several tribunals were held to determine whether his death was related to his work as a soldier, with a preliminary finding that it was not related to his service, according to his mother.
Keven Ellis, a family friend who heads a motorcycle group that supports veterans, the North Wall Riders Association, said the already emotionally distraught mother had been “devastated” by the cheque incident.
-With files from Terry Pedwell in Ottawa
©2014The Canadian Press
A former RCMP officer and a minor hockey and baseball coach has been charged with sexually assaulting eight minors in the late 70s and early 80s in Clearwater, B.C.
58-year-old Alan John Davidson was arrested on Thursday in Calgary, Alberta.
Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick, operations officer for the RCMP’s BC Major Crime Section, said Davidson coached minor hockey and baseball in the Thompson and Okanagan area, starting in the late 70s.
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The investigation into Davidson began in November 2012, when a man came forward to Burnaby RCMP, saying in the early 80s he was attending high school in Clearwater when he had allegedly been sexually assaulted by his minor hockey coach.
Fitzpatrick said this man indicated the possibility that others on the team may also have been similarly assaulted.
Following further investigation, another witness came forward and said he had been sexually assaulted by his baseball coach.
Eight victims have now come forward citing similar allegations of assault. All of those victims are male.
The investigation then extended into Alberta and Saskatchewan as Davidson was an RCMP officer in those provinces following the allegations of assault.
Video: RCMP announce charges laid against Alan John Davidson
He served in the RCMP for 14 years, from February 1982 to August 1996. He completed basic training in Regina before being posted to Coronach, Sask. He was then transferred to Lloydminster, Alta. in 1983, Yorkton Saskatchewan and then North Battleford, Sask. He retired in August 1996 and moved to Alberta to pursue a personal business opportunity.
Fitzpatrick said at this time they have no information and are unaware of any alleged offences that may have occurred during Davidson’s time as an RCMP officer.
However, investigators believe there may be other victims connected to this investigation. They are appealing for any other victims to come forward.
“I would also like to commend those individuals who came forward after all these years, considering the traumatic nature of the allegations,” said Fitzpatrick. “A great deal of work has been done to date, however our investigation is ongoing and we respect that there could be other individuals out there with information connected to our investigation. It is important for you to please contact the police.”
To assist potential victims and witnesses in recalling memory, the RCMP has released a timeline of where the accused had lived and worked over the last three decades.
1970s to 1981 – Clearwater, BC
August 1981 – February 1982 – Regina, Saskatchewan
February 1982 – December 1983 – Coronach, Saskatchewan
December 1983 – April 1986 – Lloydminster, Alberta
April 1986 – August 1993 – Yorkton, Saskatchewan
August 1993 – 1996 – North Battleford, Saskatchewan
August 1996 onwards – Alberta (currently resides in Calgary)
If anyone has any information they are asked to call the toll free tip line at 1-877-687-3377.
Davidson’s next court appearance will be April 3 in Kamloops.
Buck Pierce speaks to the media about his new role with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
WINNIPEG — Quarterback Buck Pierce, who announced his retirement Tuesday, is back with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Pierce will join head coach Mike O’Shea’s staff as running backs coach.
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The Buck stops here
“Buck has been through the trenches as a quarterback in this league. He has great experience, and will be a valued asset to our coaching staff,” O’Shea said in a team media release. “He will be able to relate to our players very well, and the ability to add a former CFL quarterback to our staff was important to us. He will be a great teacher to our running backs and a strength to our offensive staff.”
Pierce spent nine seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Bombers and B.C. Lions. He finished with 15,289 yards passing and 76 touchdowns.
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“Deciding not to play football anymore was a difficult decision, but having the opportunity to rejoin the Bombers in a coaching role was really a perfect fit. I am thrilled they wanted me to be a part of what I believe will be a great thing here in Winnipeg. I said when I was traded that I hoped one day I would be back in some capacity, and today is a really special day for my family and me,” said Pierce.
Though he played as a quarterback, Pierce should know a thing or two about running with the football. He carried the ball 233 times during his CFL career for 1,684 yards and 14 touchdowns.
TORONTO — Lupita Nyong’o had her brother at her side when she won the Best Supporting Actress award at the Academy Awards on March 2, but she celebrated with Canadian rapper K’naan.
The pair was photographed making the rounds in L.A. after the Oscars, sparking rumours of a romance.
As she arrived for a post-Oscars talk show appearance, K’naan was spotted holding her golden statuette.
The 31-year-old Mexican-born actress made her feature film debut in 12 Years a Slave and currently appears in the thriller Non-Stop. She previously worked as a production assistant on movies like 2005’s The Constant Gardener.
Nyong’o, who has remained tight-lipped about her private life, has also been linked by tabloids to Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto.
Last year, K’naan moved to New York City, where Nyong’o lives. He is currently in Los Angeles working on a movie about Somalia.
The 36-year-old has not commented on a possible relationship with Nyong’o but mentioned her in an Instagram post last month.
Born Keinan Abdi Warsame in Somalia, K’naan came to Toronto as a teenager.
He has released five full-length albums and earned five Juno Awards.
K’naan’s breakthrough song, “Wavin’ Flag” — co-written by Bruno Mars — was chosen as Coca-Cola’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was re-recorded by a group of Canadian musicians to raise funds for victims of the Haiti eathquake.
His most recent single is “Hurt Me Tomorrow.”
K’naan was previously married and is the father of two sons.
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TORONTO – Nine Russian soldiers taking part in military exercises in Canada have been expelled from the country after Prime Minister Stephen Harper cut all bilateral military activities with Russia.
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The soldiers, six from Saint-Jean, Que., two from New Brunswick’s CFB Gagetown and one from Gatineau, Que., were told to leave the country within 24 hours and will be leaving Saturday, a government source told Global News.
Canada condemns Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine
Prime Minister Harper said Canada remains extremely concerned about the crisis in Ukraine and reiterates his call for Russia to “respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Today, our Government is taking additional measures to further increase pressure on President Putin and the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops to their bases by imposing a travel ban against a number of individuals responsible for threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. This ban will prevent these individuals from travelling to Canada,” Harper said in a Friday statement.
In response to the Russian incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region, Harper said Tuesday: “I have this morning directed that, effective immediately, all planned bilateral activities between the Canadian Armed Forces and the military of the Russian Federation be suspended.
“This includes exercises, such as NORAD’s Exercise Vigilant Eagle, and scheduled meetings.”
Harper said the Canadian government views the crisis “with the gravest concern.”
Canada won’t recognize Crimean referendum
On Thursday Harper said Canada won’t recognize Crimean’s forthcoming referendum on joining Russia.
Lawmakers in Crimea voted unanimously to split from Ukraine and join Russia, and will hold a referendum March 16 to allow voters on the disputed peninsula to weigh in on the decision.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it’s impossible to organize a meaningful referendum in the 10-day time frame proposed.
He said Canada is deeply concerned about Russia’s military actions.
“This is a vestige of another century,” he said. “It’s a Soviet-style tactic that’s unacceptable for a G8 country and unacceptable in 2014.
“We’re going to condemn it in the strongest of terms and work with friends and like-minded allies to see it reversed.
“It’s going to be a challenging issue.”
–with files from The Canadian Press
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