Wed, August 11, 2004
'Disgusting' offer by Ottawa
NCO POISONED BY OWN TROOPS GETS SHAFT AGAIN FROM DEFENCE, WRITES PETER WORTHINGTON
By PETER WORTHINGTON
REMEMBER MATT Stopford -- the Princess Pat's warrant officer who was being poisoned by his own troops in Croatia in 1993 and is now blind in one eye and wracked with crippling internal injuries? When he was defence minister, John McCallum intervened and sent Stopford to the Mayo Clinic for analysis and treatment, and ordered department of national defence lawyers to settle the case to avoid Stopford's legal case.
The June 28 election changed everything. McCallum went to revenue, Bill Graham took over defence, and the shafting of Stopford began again. Frustrated, Stopford has written to Prime Minister Paul Martin, blaming the Liberal government.
Here, slightly edited, is some of what he wrote to Martin: "Sir, it is with a heavy heart and total disgust in your government that I am forced yet again to correspond to seek action to settle this on-going travesty of justice.
"I believe you have been fully briefed on my predicament and are well aware of proceedings that took place before the general election.
"Sir, upon my return from the Mayo Clinic late last year, members of the Liberal party, and members of the Canadian defence department and serving members of the forces have approached me to express disgust and horror at the poisoning and threats to my life by certain members of the forces during my peacekeeping tour in Yugoslavia in 1993.
"They said they were disgusted by not only what had happened but also at the way the government had dealt with this matter, until you took over the reigns of power last year. Like a fool, I again believed them and thought this whole matter would soon be rectified, and whatever life I have left could go on quietly and peacefully.
"I was told the Liberal government and the defence department were well aware of the tragic and disgusting way this gruesome episode was dealt with by those in power. It was suggested that the matter would be dealt with in a positive way as soon as the general election was over, and that I should remain quiet during the campaign. Mediation would proceed immediately after the election -- set for the 29th of June, 2004, in Ottawa.
"Like an ignoramus, honourable sir, I believed in your government and proceeded to mediation. To say I was outraged, disgusted, and destroyed by that meeting would be an understatement. What transpired that day by your justice department under direction from the department of national defence broke all bounds of humanity and what is considered just and moral in Canadian society.
"So shocked and frustrated was I at your government's lack of concern, that I required medical intervention from my team of doctors.
"Mr. Prime Minister, to find out exactly what happened in Ottawa that day you just have to read the mediation brief of the defendant (Crown). Despite the claim of DND, I am in no way better off now then when I was when serving in the military.
"I was forced to sign a non-disclosure form and have since been threatened with legal action and possibly jail if I break that agreement. I assume, as prime minister, you can find out what happened and your government's disgusting offer on June 29.
"Like a fool, sir, I allowed myself to get bitten yet again by your Liberal government when I should have been shouting at the top of my lungs during your election campaign, as my supporters asked me to do. Instead I remained silent believing the Liberals under your direction would seek justice for me, not betrayal. How wrong I was.
"On July 20-22, I went to Hamilton for disclosure to the Crown -- again to be treated as the criminal not the victim.
"Rest assured, the hearing was negative and damning for the Crown's case -- discredited with evidence from government sources and DND from the top to bottom.
"I was hoping to avoid a trial and save embarrassment for the government and the military, but I see this is a fruitless endeavour.
"I am well aware what a trial will do to my health, but despite warnings from my medical team I must proceed for my sake as well as for those who are still serving in Canada's military.
"My only choice left is to proceed with the trial and allow the country to learn the truth of this matter. I regret the mess this will cause to my regiment and to the military as well as to Canada, but I no longer see any alternative.
"On a different note, we can now prove the soldiers were trying to kill me. I did indeed ingest those poisons. This can be proven through various government inquiries and military police reports as well as medical reports from the Mayo Clinic, where the consulting physician stated had I come to the Mayo in 1993-94, 'we could have fixed it.'
"I will be approaching the opposition parties to pass on all materials. Not only about the attempts on my life but materials on the hundreds of sick soldiers who have been tossed out of the military over the past decade. Unfortunately, this is the only way for me to seek justice for myself and other soldiers who gave so much for their country only to be betrayed."