Provincial documents in 'unconquered peoples' lawsuit should be unsealed: judge

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has blocked the province from using the principle of solicitor-client privilege to stymie a lawsuit filed against it by a former government lawyer.

Supreme court Justice John D. Murphy ruled Thursday that Premier Stephen McNeil and former Justice Minister Diana Whalen waived solicitor-client protection when they publicly assailed the legal arguments made by government lawyer Alex M. Cameron on the province’s behalf.

Cameron is currently suing the provincial government for defamation and constructive dismissal from his job, which he left in May 2017.

He worked for the justice department in 2016, representing Nova Scotia when it became involved in a court challenge over the Sipekne’katik First Nation’s right to be consulted about the effect that industrial development could have on the surrounding environment.

Former Nova Scotia Justice Department lawyer Alex Cameron has won an interim ruling that could allow him to unseal provincial documents related to his own constructive dismissal lawsuit. (CBC)

‘Unconquered peoples argument’

The Mi’kmaq band opposed Alton Gas’s proposal to store natural gas in underground chambers that would be excavated from salt deposits near the Shubenacadie River.

Cameron, however, advanced the legal argument that the province’s duty to consult only applied to “unconquered peoples.”

In a legal brief he presented to court, Cameron suggested that the Sipekne’katik Band’s submission to the Crown in 1760 negated its claim of sovereignty and negated the government’s constitutional duty to consult.

That argument triggered immediate outrage from Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq leaders and from opposition parties.

The premier and the former justice minister publicly repudiated Cameron’s approach and, within two weeks, the lawyer was removed from the case.

“I believe that brief went way beyond where it needed to go,” McNeil is quoted as saying in documents presented to the court. “I am looking for an explanation from the Justice Department.”

Those same documents later quote McNeil as saying he had “no idea” that Cameron was putting forward that argument.

Sealed documents

After being taken off the case, Cameron continued to work for the Justice Department until retiring in May. Days later, he filed a lawsuit against McNeil, Whelan and the attorney general, alleging defamation, abuse of public office, constitutional violation and constructive dismissal.

Premier Stephen McNeil repudiated the argument submitted by Cameron. (CBC)

The solicitor-client correspondence Cameron submitted to the court in support of his lawsuit is still sealed, and the details are redacted from Thursday’s decision.

But that information could soon become public, because Thursday’s ruling found that the province’s private instructions to its lawyer in the dispute with the Mi’kmaq band are no longer protected.

Province may appeal

The province has 30 days to appeal that decision. The documents will remain sealed until then.

A Justice Department spokesperson told CBC Nova Scotia that the province is considering a challenge to Thursday’s ruling.

Cameron did not immediately respond to a request for comment made through his lawyer Bruce Outhouse.

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Sex abuse claim sparks lawsuit against N.S. Catholic diocese

A man who says he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy in Halifax in the 1960s has filed notice that he is planning a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

His lawyer believes if certified by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court the class-action lawsuit could eventually involve many more sex abuse claimants.

“It seems likely to me that there are hundreds, perhaps many hundreds, of potential victims out there,” lawyer John McKiggan, of the Halifax law firm McKiggan Hebert, said Thursday. 

The lead plaintiff in the case is Douglas Champagne, who in court documents claims he was abused by priest George G. Epoch while he was an altar boy at Canadian Martyr’s Church on Inglis Street.

Boy sought counselling after father left

The lawsuit says Champagne’s father abandoned his family in 1960 and Douglas Champagne, then eight, was sent to Epoch for counselling. 

“He came from a vulnerable family — single mom, a number of kids. And his mom wanted him to join the church and become an altar boy because she thought it would be good for him,” McKiggan said.

In court documents, Champagne says he became a “knight of the altar” in 1962 and that Epoch asked him to stay one day after the other boys left. Champagne says Epoch told him he loved him and then sexually assaulted him in the garment room of the church, and in Epoch’s room at the priest’s dormitory.

The alleged abuse went on for months, Champagne says.

“Other priests that lived at the residence looked at Douglas with a combination of disgust and sympathy,” the notice of action filed with lawsuit claims. “They did not lift a finger to prevent the abuse that they knew or ought to have known was taking place.”

Canadian Martyrs church has since merged with another congregation and the church building has been torn down. Epoch died in Ontario in 1986. According to the Nova Scotia Justice Department’s 2001 Kaufman Report, Epoch sexually abused many male and female children on First Nations reserves during his time in Ontario. 

John McKiggan of Halifax law firm McKiggan Hebert is handling the class-action lawsuit. (CBC)

McKiggan acted on behalf of sex-abuse victims in a $16-million settlement with the Diocese of Antigonish. He said 142 victims received compensation for abuse by priests.

‘We know there are others’

Since the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese is twice the size of the Antigonish diocese, he expects a proportionate number of victims to step forward.

“There is no reason to believe that the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese ran its affairs any differently than the Antigonish diocese did. The policies were the same,” he said.

“We already know that there have been a number of priests publicly who have been convicted. We know there are others who have been assaulted [and] not been made public.”

Priests Angus McRae, Edouard Josepth Theriault, Robert MacDougall, and Albert LeBlanc all pleaded guilty between 1980 and 2012 to sexually abusing young parishioners while working in the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese.

McKiggan said the decision to launch a class-action lawsuit is linked to efforts by the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth to allow it to divide its assets among dozens of parish corporations.

McKiggan said that would possibly leave victims unable to collect on judgments made against the archdiocese as a whole.

“It would mean quite possibly that they would have no means of recovering compensation for the harms and losses that they suffered at the hands of sexually abusive priests,” he said.

McKiggan said the next step is to apply to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to certify the class-action lawsuit.

He said litigation could drag on for years, depending on how the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth proceeds. The archdiocese learned of the lawsuit Thursday afternoon and told CBC News it is reviewing it with its legal advisers.

“The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth condemns sexual abuse of all forms,” John Williams, vicar-general of the archdiocese, said in a statement Thursday. 

“The archdiocese has an established process in place to address claims brought for any historic sexual abuse. The archdiocese makes a sincere attempt to do the right thing by way of the victims and achieve an appropriate and fair settlement for established claims.”

Williams said he could not speak about the specific allegations while the matter was before the courts. 

With files from Jon Tattrie

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Halifax businessmen denied anonymity in potential harassment lawsuit

A Nova Scotia judge has issued a strong endorsement of Canada’s open court principle in a decision against two Halifax businessmen who wanted to remain anonymous in a potential sex harassment lawsuit.

The applicants should know that I have heard and fully understand their concerns,” Justice Denise Boudreau said in an decision delivered Thursday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

“However, I do not find that these concerns trump the greater principle here that is to be protected … That is to say, the open court principle.”

Names not public

The businessmen have so far been referred to as “John Doe” and “Jim Doe” in court documents. Their accuser is referred to as “Jane Roe.”

Jane Roe said she met the men through her work, and they coerced her into relationships because they were important clients of her employer.

In court documents, both men admit to the relationships. Jim Doe said he paid the woman for oral sex about twice a week for a period of years.

Both men say their relationships with Jane Roe were consensual.

But in April, Jane Roe’s lawyer sent letters to the two men demanding compensation for sexual harassment.

In an anonymity application made Tuesday, the men claimed the threat of a lawsuit is in effect an extortion attempt because the only way to protect their privacy is to settle the matter out of court.

Otherwise, they fear their reputations would be harmed if they are mentioned in a statement of claim.

Boudreau said at this point in the proceedings, the court knows very little about the allegations.

“I have no way of knowing the truth of this matter at this point,” she said.

She compared the situation of John Doe and Jim Doe with anyone named in a civil action or criminal prosecution, who are presumed innocent from the start.

“All defendants to a greater or lesser extent might wish to keep the allegations made against them out of the public eye. But that is not is how our system works. Our judicial system is based on the principle of openness and transparency,” she said.

No to restrictions on media

Boudreau also denied a request that Jane Roe be forced to use pseudonyms if she ever speaks to reporters.

It is not the court’s role to police media interviews,” Boudreau said.

The identities of John Doe, Jim Doe and Jane Roe remain secret for now. That could change if she files a statement of claim with the court.

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Halifax businessmen denied anonymity in potential harassment lawsuit

A Nova Scotia judge has issued a strong endorsement of Canada’s open court principle in a decision against two Halifax businessmen who wanted to remain anonymous in a potential sex harassment lawsuit.

The applicants should know that I have heard and fully understand their concerns,” Justice Denise Boudreau said in an decision delivered Thursday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

“However, I do not find that these concerns trump the greater principle here that is to be protected … That is to say, the open court principle.”

Names not public

The businessmen have so far been referred to as “John Doe” and “Jim Doe” in court documents. Their accuser is referred to as “Jane Roe.”

Jane Roe said she met the men through her work, and they coerced her into relationships because they were important clients of her employer.

In court documents, both men admit to the relationships. Jim Doe said he paid the woman for oral sex about twice a week for a period of years.

Both men say their relationships with Jane Roe were consensual.

But in April, Jane Roe’s lawyer sent letters to the two men demanding compensation for sexual harassment.

In an anonymity application made Tuesday, the men claimed the threat of a lawsuit is in effect an extortion attempt because the only way to protect their privacy is to settle the matter out of court.

Otherwise, they fear their reputations would be harmed if they are mentioned in a statement of claim.

Boudreau said at this point in the proceedings, the court knows very little about the allegations.

“I have no way of knowing the truth of this matter at this point,” she said.

She compared the situation of John Doe and Jim Doe with anyone named in a civil action or criminal prosecution, who are presumed innocent from the start.

“All defendants to a greater or lesser extent might wish to keep the allegations made against them out of the public eye. But that is not is how our system works. Our judicial system is based on the principle of openness and transparency,” she said.

No to restrictions on media

Boudreau also denied a request that Jane Roe be forced to use pseudonyms if she ever speaks to reporters.

It is not the court’s role to police media interviews,” Boudreau said.

The identities of John Doe, Jim Doe and Jane Roe remain secret for now. That could change if she files a statement of claim with the court.

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Halifax trio trade accusations of sexual harassment, extortion in court case

An application for anonymity in Nova Scotia Supreme Court has revealed allegations of sexual harassment against two Halifax businessmen, who in turn claim they are being falsely accused and extorted.

The court will hear the case Tuesday morning in Halifax.

The businessmen are asking the court to protect their identities by referring to them as Jim Doe and John Doe in all court documents.

They wish their accuser to be referred to as Jane Roe.

Through their lawyers, the men argue that threats of civil action by Jane Roe are effectively an extortion attempt because if they don’t settle out of court, their names will be made public.

Businessmen admit to relationships

In court documents, both men admit to engaging in relationships with Jane Roe, who was an employee of a company they both did business with.

The documents describe John Doe as a “high-profile businessman.”

A letter from Jane Roe’s lawyer to John Doe claims in the course of their business relationship she was “coerced into compliance with your sexual conduct when you threatened to withdraw your [redacted] and encourage others in your community to do the same if she did not comply.”

Psychologist’s report

The nature of the alleged sexual harassment is contained in a psychologist’s report commissioned by Jane Roe’s lawyer and sent to both men to detail the allegations.

The psychologist, whose name is redacted, said Jane Roe indicated none of her other 50 clients crossed any professional boundaries with her at work.

The psychologist says the woman said the sexual misconduct by the two men started “simultaneously, at approximately the same time.”

Relationship with John Doe

The psychologist wrote Jane Roe told him she became closer with John Doe after he confided in her about his marriage.

Their relationship became physical.

“She provided oral sex on one occasion but he thought it was ‘dirty’. The majority of their physical relations involved kissing and touching over and under clothes (e.g. him touching her breasts),” the report states.

Details about how Jane Roe’s relationship with John Doe ended are redacted from the report.

Facebook request for $6,500

According to John Doe’s court submissions, Jane Roe reached out to him through Facebook in August 2014, “several years after the relationship had ended.”

The application quotes Jane Roe’s Facebook messages in which she referred to their “very special relationship which I respectfully kept in confidence.”

Her Facebook message went on, “This is a one-time request of $6,500 which you can consider a gift to me. I was hard hit financially by my marriage ending and I knew I could turn to someone who shared a mutual understanding of what trust means.”

A copy of the Facebook correspondence shows John Doe’s response: “[Y]our message has prompted me to gather my family together and show them this message. I explaines [sic] everything to my wife and she is expecting you to call.… Do not contact me again.”

Jane Roe replied that since he’s told his family, she will no longer keep the secret. “It’s amazing how many people seem to want to know about us,” she wrote.

John Doe responded: “Google extortion it’s a criminal offence thx for these messages for the proof.”

Jane Roe replied, “I am sorry you feel this is extortion? Try ‘gift’, ‘mistress,’ and ‘unfaithful.'”

She went on, “A client/rep relationship could be construed as sexual harassment on your end. I had to live up to the expectations of my client.”

Relationship with Jim Doe

Through his lawyers, the second businessman, Jim Doe, states he was a customer of Jane Roe’s employer “in the early to late 2000s.”

“Over time, the relationship evolved to a stage where Jim Doe paid for and received sexual services from Ms. Roe. These facts are not in dispute,” the documents state.

The same records say Jane Roe’s lawyer contacted Jim Doe in late April, saying she was considering a lawsuit, but that she “was prepared at this stage to address possible resolution without making this matter public.”

Jane Roe’s allegations against Jim Doe are also detailed in the psychologist’s report.

“Jim Doe’s first inappropriate behaviour occurred in his office when he grabbed her hand and stated … that she was ‘beautiful.’ Jane Roe reported that she then got up to leave but he blocked the door, stated, ‘you’re not leaving without a kiss goodbye,’ then proceeded to kiss her on the lips for approximately five seconds,” the report states.

The report says approximately a month later, Jane Roe began to perform oral sex on Jim Doe, after she had said no on “four to five” previous occasions.

The report says oral sex continued approximately twice a week for a “period of [redacted] years,” and that she was paid $100 to $150 each time.

The report says the sexual contact ceased once Jim Doe was no longer a client.

“Thus once Jim no longer held power related to her work, Jane Roe was reportedly able to refuse,” the psychologist wrote.

Cocaine addiction

Subsequent to Jane Roe’s relationships with the two businessmen, court records state she had an affair with a cocaine dealer identified in court documents as U.M.

That affair led to the breakdown of Jane Roe’s marriage.

“Jane Roe” admits to suffering from a heavy cocaine addiction. (CBC)

She also fell into a serious cocaine addiction, consuming between $400 and $450 of the drug each day.

The psychologist’s report says Jane Roe’s addiction caused her to lose her job and declare bankruptcy.

The psychologist diagnosed Jane Roe with severe cocaine use disorder, moderate PTSD, generalized anxiety and persistent depressive disorder.

The psychologist concluded, “There is a direct relationship between her PTSD and the sexual harassment and misconduct.… Her cocaine use disorder is likely reflective of maladaptive coping strategy to avoid her emotions related to the harassment.”

The hearing on the confidentiality applications by Jim Doe and John Doe will be heard Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

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Leading obstetrician hopes to reassure public after coverage of Cullan Chisholm case

A leading obstetrician in Nova Scotia wants to reassure the public about the way hospitals review difficult births to try to improve the success of deliveries.  

Robyn MacQuarrie is reacting to CBC News coverage of the $6 million birth injury settlement for Cullan Chisholm.

“Birth is something that impacts the entire community, so people need to feel that there’s a safe place to deliver a baby,” said MacQuarrie, the northern zone chief of maternal and child health for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Chisholm, now 7, suffered severe brain injuries during labour and delivery at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S.

Reassuring public

The settlement included no admission of blame by the obstetrician in charge, two nurses who were attending or the hospital.

MacQuarrie said she wants to reassure the public about how the system handles poor outcomes with patients.

“It gave me pause because I was concerned that the women of the province would think that we don’t give thoughtful consideration to any bad outcome, and that we don’t try to learn from those outcomes in order to improve the care that we deliver,” she said.

Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie is the northern zone chief of maternal and child health for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The health authority refused to comment on the settlement for privacy reasons, including whether any policy changes or training arose from Chisholm’s case.

MacQuarrie says she only knows about Chisholm through news stories. “I literally know nothing about the specifics of the case,” she said.

Entire birth team would meet for review

While she can’t comment on any particular example, MacQuarrie says whenever a newborn requires immediate transfer to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, the entire birth team would meet for a review.

Chisholm’s lawsuit alleged that nurses and an obstetrician missed signs from a fetal heart monitor that he was oxygen-deprived during labour.

MacQuarrie says that paper tracings of fetal heartbeats would be reviewed if it was believed something was missed.

Additional training for hospital staff could follow.

“We would identify learning goals from that, and then we check back in our quarterly meetings to make sure those goals are being pursued and that something is being done if learning is identified as something that’s needed,” she said.

Sharing lessons learned

MacQuarrie believes the move to amalgamate to a single provincial health authority has helped standardize quality reviews. It allows lessons to be shared more widely within the health-care system.

But she hopes these processes may provide some measure of comfort to affected families.

“I can’t imagine the emotional challenge of having a bad outcome. And I think the only thing that would, not soften that, but make it a little bit, hopefully, easier to live with is knowing that something is being done so the same outcome doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia 

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Antigonish boy, 7, receives $6-million settlement for brain damage at birth

A seven-year-old boy in Antigonish, N.S., has received the largest personal injury settlement in Nova Scotia legal history. 

Obstetrician Dr. Allison Ball and the former Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority together have agreed to pay $6 million to Cullan Chisholm due to severe brain injuries he suffered during his delivery.

“This settlement allows us to give Cullan the best quality of life as possible,” said Monique Chisholm, Cullan’s 35-year-old mother.

“I guess with this settlement now we can live like — and I’m going to use quotes — like a ‘normal’ family,” she said.  

Nearly lifeless birth

Cullan was born at 10:40 a.m. on July 31, 2010.

Monique Chisholm had been labouring at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital since the previous afternoon while receiving the drug oxytocin, which induces and intensifies labour contractions.

According to Chisholm’s statement of claim, two nurses attending the labour and the fifth-year obstetrical resident in charge, Dr. Allison Ball, missed signs on the fetal heart monitor that the baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

Cullan Chisholm at the IWK Health Centre four days after his birth. (Submitted by Monique Chisholm)

Cullan was born grey and nearly lifeless, with the umbilical cord looped around his neck.

He was rushed by helicopter to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, where he spent 72 hours being chilled in an incubator to try to reduce damage to his brain.

“To see my son come out of me nearly dead, and then the next time I see him he’s freezing in an incubator, shivering. No one wants to see a little infant like that. It was totally traumatizing,” Chisholm said.

Brain damaged in 2 stages

Medical experts called by the plaintiffs said Cullan Chisholm suffered brain damage in two stages, during the protracted labour and again during delivery.

They also stated that an earlier intervention, such as a caesarean section, would likely have led to a healthy birth.

“We ended up finding out had they [C-]sectioned at any point, Cullan would be in much better shape than he is today. Which is hard to hear, but you know, what can you do?” Chisholm said.

Monique Chisholm holds Cullan Chisholm at the IWK Health Centre. (Submitted by Monique Chisholm)

Today, Cullan lives in a bungalow in Antigonish with his mother, father Wade Chisholm and his little brother Killian.

He loves to play on a specialized swing in his backyard, and he plays baseball with his dad — another child bats for Cullan, and Wade carries him around the bases in a specialized harness.

Monique Chisholm holds an ice pack on her eye. Cullan accidentally hit her while she was swimming with him on Tuesday. (CBC)

But Cullan is unable to control his body due to severe cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment. He can’t speak, move or use the bathroom without help from an adult.

He’ll require constant care, 24 hours a day, for the rest of his life.

“He’s partially fed through the G-tube, and partially fed orally, and we have to prep all that, put that all together. Any sort of personal care, we do all that — you know, the bathing the changing, the dressing. He’s totally dependent on his parents for his care,” she said.

Settlement funds

Cullan’s future care is guaranteed through a $3-million annuity purchased with the settlement funds.

Those costs begin at roughly $70,000 per year today, gradually increasing to $130,000 per year by the time he’s 21.  

There’s also money to build a wheelchair-accessible home for the family.

About a third of the settlement money, roughly $2 million, covered legal costs accrued during the seven-year legal fight with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and lawyers for the Canadian Medical Protective Association, a not-for-profit that defends doctors against malpractice claims.

Cullan Chisholm swings with his brother Killian in their backyard in Antigonish. (CBC)

“I just kept saying to myself, ‘He doesn’t have a voice.’ He didn’t have a voice. And what happened to him was so unfair and it shouldn’t have happened,” Chisholm said.

“That’s what was my motivation was and that’s what kind of got me through the whole process, really, and kept me fighting for him,” she said.

Chisholm hopes that someday she’ll be able to advocate on behalf of families whose children have suffered birth injuries.

“I haven’t forgotten what I’ve been through, and I’ll never forget what I’ve been through, and there are some major holes in our health-care system,” she said.

Monique Chisholm has been fighting for a legal settlement for 7 years. (CBC)

Chisholm’s lawyer, John McKiggan, said the case is significant because “it goes a long way to recognizing the very significant harm and associated costs that go with caring for a catastrophically injured child.”

He hopes this precedent will help children who are seriously hurt during delivery get the lifetime care they need.

“It’s fair to say that physicians, nurses are human. We all make mistakes,” he said. “But when someone makes a mistake that violates the standard of care — in other words when someone makes a mistake that was preventable — then they should be held accountable for that and that’s why we brought the claim.”

McKiggan emphasizes there was no admission of fault by Ball or the health authority, or any finding of fault by the court.

The physician is responsible for $4 million of the $6-million settlement. The hospital, through the health authority, will pay $2 million.

Awards in similar cases in Ontario are often more $10 million, McKiggan said, adding that the gap in amounts is due to different rules used to calculate damages in the two provinces, and a conservative legal culture in Atlantic Canada.

John McKiggan of McKiggan Hebert hopes settlement will set precedent to help children seriously hurt during delivery. (CBC)

Ball currently works in Barrie, Ont., as a gynecological oncologist. Through her lawyer, she declined the CBC’s request for comment.

The health authority acknowledged a negotiated settlement was reached in Cullan’s case, but would not comment further for privacy reasons.

The health authority refused to say if St. Martha’s Regional Hospital had implemented any new policies or additional training for staff as a result of Cullan’s birth injury. It also would not comment on the employment status of the two nurses involved in Monique Chisholm’s labour and delivery.

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Federal Court approves class action settlement for LGBTQ Canadians

A federal court justice has approved a settlement for Canadians who were persecuted or fired due to their sexual orientation while in the Canadian Forces, RCMP and federal civil service between 1955 and 1996.

Alida Satalic of Dartmouth, N.S., who was dismissed from her post as a Canadian Forces postal clerk in 1989, was in Ottawa Monday for the federal court hearing.  

“Happy, happy day.… It’s a way on to healing. The apology was one thing, but this is even more,” she said.

Alida Satalic receives a hug from her lawyer John McKiggan. (CBC)

The 57-year-old was the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all LGBTQ Canadian Forces members who served in Atlantic Canada.

That lawsuit was merged with other class action claims on the road to today’s settlement.

Satalic’s lawyer, John McKiggan of the Halifax law firm McKiggan Hebert, said it is the largest LGBTQ settlement anywhere in the world and will involve between $85 million and $145 million in compensation.

Halifax lawyer John McKiggan launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of military members who served in Atlantic Canada and were investigated, harassed and purged from the military between 1969 and 1995. (CBC)

McKiggan said the final amount will be determined by how many Canadians step forward to make claims. Beyond individual compensation, there is also money for education and reconciliation, he said.

Claimants can also request individual apologies and ask that their employment records be amended to reflect they were unjustly fired without cause. They will also receive the Pride Citation, to reflect that they served Canada while suffering discrimination.

McKiggan said today’s hearing had to be held in the building housing the Supreme Court of Canada because so many class members wanted to attend.

He estimates there were between 50 and 100 people in the courtroom to hear former military and RCMP members testify about the harassment and disciplinary action they faced due to their sexual orientation.

Satalic did not speak, but filed an affidavit describing her treatment.

She said she was deeply touched by what she heard today in court.

“Different people were speaking about how they were persecuted in the military,” she said. “I got teary-eyed so many times. You know, a lot of the stuff people are talking about I can relate to. The same thing happened to so many of us.”

Alida Satalic was interrogated and had to undergo a medical examination to determine if she met the military’s definition of homosexual when she worked as a postal clerk at CFB Trenton. She accepted a release from military service designating her ‘not advantageously employable’ in 1989, according to court documents. (Supplied/LGBTPurge.com)

Satalic trained as a truck mechanic when she joined the military in 1983.

She nearly quit due to harassment and intimidation from her instructors and all-male classmates.

She later became a postal clerk in Trenton, Ont., and was investigated and interrogated by the military’s special investigations unit in 1989.

Because she admitted to being a lesbian, she was denied the top-secret clearance she needed to advance in her post, and was denied access to all future training. Instead, she opted for a medical discharge.

Satalic rejoined the military in 1994 after the military’s ban on homosexuality was officially lifted.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

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Civil servants' hacking claim in privacy breach led to police action, documents show

Court documents from a Halifax police investigation into a privacy breach at a Nova Scotia government website show provincial civil servants told investigators the province had been hacked.

The documents show Det. Cst. Steve Millaire swore before a justice of the peace that, “an employee of the province discovered that someone had ‘Hacked’ into Province of Nova Scotia confidential files that were being stored off site at the private firm UNISYS.'”

In reality, the confidential files were posted on the province’s Freedom of Information portal without any security protection, and were accessible to anyone on the internet who changed the final digits of the links to each document.

The new information comes from a sworn statement used to obtain a production order to force the internet provider Eastlink to provide the name of the subscriber who downloaded the documents.

‘Sensitive in nature’

Those court documents were sealed until Tuesday when the Halifax Examiner and Cape Breton Spectator hired Halifax media lawyer David Coles to apply to unseal the court files.

The court files also show the breach was discovered by a provincial archives employee who accidentally switched the final digits of a Freedom of Information file on his work computer, and found he could see any document in the system.

In his sworn statement, Millaire says the downloaded records “would be sensitive in nature,” such as Department of Child Services files, confidential business information, memos and administrative documents.

Premier Stephen McNeil described the downloading of information from the government freedom-of-information portal last month as “stealing.” (CBC)

“Many of the documents obtained are very sensitive in nature and if released, could pose a risk to those named within,” he wrote.

He told the justice of the peace that a provincial official requested that “due to the level of seriousness and potential media attention, this matter be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Police drop case

On Monday, police announced they will not be pursuing a criminal charge of “unauthorized use of a computer” against the 19-year-old Halifax man who downloaded 7,675 freedom of information documents.  

The teen, whose identity has not been released, told CBC News he thought the documents were all public.

He says he used an open-source program called Wget and wrote one line of script to download the documents, he says were stored in order from 1 to 7,675.

The 19-year-old at the centre of a privacy breach on the province’s freedom-of-information portal says he thought the documents he downloaded were public information. ( Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Police raided the teen’s home the day they announced the privacy breach, arrested his parents and siblings and took him to police headquarters for questioning.

The family’s phones and computers seized during the raid have yet to be returned.

Strong rhetoric

David Fraser of the firm McInnes Cooper is acting for the teen.

He says the police response would have been “heavily influenced” by what provincial officials told them about the breach.

“Certainly the rhetoric at the time was very strong, suggesting some form of hacking, which proved not to be the case,” he said.

“And if that sort of rhetoric was transferred to the police, it might be expected that that’s the sort of response that they’re going to have.”

Halifax lawyer David Fraser who represents the teen arrested in the website privacy breach says he has more questions for the Nova Scotia government about the breach and the circumstances surrounding it. (CBC)

Halifax Regional Police say when the province called them, they believed something illegal had happened.

“When the incident was reported to the police it was certainly believed that a criminal act had taken place. That’s why someone calls the police and that’s why we undertook and investigation,” said Superintendent Jim Perrin.

Lawyer has more questions for province

However, Fraser says it was never likely a criminal conviction could ever be obtained just for downloading information from an unsecured system.

He says he has other questions moving forward.

“I think it will be very interesting to understand more about what happened on the province side in terms of why that information was publicly available on a publicly available website in the first place,” he said.

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