The federal government is directing officials at the Department of National Defence (DND) to immediately drop their appeal of a recent Federal Court ruling that would further extend the deadline for submitting claims in a military sexual misconduct class action settlement, Global News has learned.
A Federal Court judge ruled on Jan. 6 that late claims can be accepted in the Canadian Armed Forces-Department of National Defence (CAF-DND) Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement until Feb. 5.
A statement posted on the Department of National Defence’s website on Jan. 17, however, said the ruling “compromises the integrity” of the final settlement agreement (FSA) negotiated by the parties and approved by the court, and announced plans to appeal it.
The directive to drop the appeal came after Global News repeatedly asked the Prime Minister’s Office and Defence Minister Anita Anand’s office to justify the appeal and received no responses. A government source says the order to drop it came from the political level.
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A spokesperson from Anand’s office confirmed the decision to appeal would be reversed “after careful consideration and in line with our government’s commitment to cultural change.”
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The court’s ruling approving the extension came in response to an application originally brought by 12 individuals who were seeking to be able to join the class action after missing the deadline to do so last year. The law firm Koskie Minsky LLP argued in federal court filings that some 640 people may be eligible if the late applications would be approved.
The reasons given by late claimants for being unable to meet the deadline were due to the emotional and psychological difficulties they suffered as a result of the sexual misconduct experienced in the CAF-DND, the law firm suggested.
Koskie Minsky and RavenLaw, another firm representing some of the claimants, told Global News that DND’s reasoning for launching its appeal were “deeply troubling.”
“On the contrary, the court’s decision is consistent with the settlement agreement as well as the principles underlying it, including the importance of having a process that is restorative and trauma-informed,” the firms said in a statement.
—With files from Aaron D’Andrea
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