Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Federal Court of Canada remands grievance case to CDS

There has been an important decision at the Federal Court of Canada. In Ouellette v. Attorney General of Canada, 2015 FC 1185, the court, per St-Louis J., granted a Canadian Forces colonel's application and overturned a decision of the Chief of the Defence Staff denying the colonel's grievance. The basis for the grievance was that he had been unfairly removed from command while serving in Haiti. In court, however, the issue was the narrower and somewhat technical one of whether the grievance process had functioned properly. Col. Ouellette was supported by the Military Grievances External Review Committee, which intervened (remarkable in itself) and expressed serious misgivings about the processing of the grievance. The court did not reach the merits but quashed the decision of the Chief of the Defence Staff on the grievance and remanded for further proceedings, awarding $6000 in costs.

The National Post has this report. Excerpt:
The Canadian Forces Grievance Board, in a December 2011 report, said it was “shocked” by the way Ouellette was treated and said his removal was unjustified. 
The board found that the military’s strict non-fraternization code didn’t apply because the policy deals with personal relationships between Canadian Forces members, DND employees and allied force members. Ouellette’s assistant was a UN employee. The board further stated that offering her accommodations in his house was not unreasonable given the circumstances.

‘He’s damaged goods’ 
Further, evidence of an affair never amounted to more than “unconfirmed allegations” and “innuendos” and there was no evidence to support the notion th[at] morale problems were threatening operations. 
The board concluded Ouellette was never privy to all the allegations or given an opportunity to respond. 
It recommended creating a “public affairs plan” to restore Ouellette’s reputation and character.

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