National defence minister to apologize for cheque

National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson plans to apologize for sending a cheque for one cent to the mother of deceased soldier Cpl. Justin Stark.

The cheque sent to Stark's mother, over two years after his passing.
The cheque sent to Stark’s mother, over two years after his passing.

Nicholson, speaking in the House of Commons, said his staff has arranged a call for Mar. 6  and called the situation “absolutely ridiculous”.

“I extend the apologies of … everyone in the government to his mother, and we thank this individual for the service that he gave his country,” Nicholson said

“That being said, Mr. Speaker, this is an insensitive bureaucratic screw-up. I’ve just learned of it now and I will take steps immediately to ensure that something like this should never happen again,” Nicholson told the House of Commons.

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Wayne Marston called the mix-up “inexcusable” in the House of Commons on Mar. 4. She also demanded to know what Nicholson was doing to make sure it doesn’t happen to another grieving family.

Nicholson was told by the defence department that there will be “better communication” to make sure this does not happen in the future. Nicholson made no comment on what specific actions will be taken to prevent future mix-ups.

Stark killed himself in October 2011 at the John W. Foote VC Armouries in Hamilton.

Stark’s mother, Denise, received the cheque for only one cent from the federal government earlier this week. She initially thought the cheque was her son’s owed military pay, however no official reason has been given for issuing the cheque.

Corporal Justin Matthew Stark who took his own life in Oct. 2011.  June 23, 1989 - October 29, 2011
Corporal Justin Matthew Stark who took his own life in Oct. 2011.
June 23, 1989 – October 29, 2011

Stark was an infantry soldier with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. He served a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan attached to the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment. He was a member of the armouries for four years before his tour began in May 2010.

A family friend, Keven Ellis, told the CBC news that the family was looking for action to be taken, not apologies. He said that if the cheque was sent within the first year of Stark’s passing it would be understandable.

With the amount of time that has passed since Stark died Ellis told the CBC the situation is humiliating.


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