POLITICS

Ottawa Spends $65,000 On Legal Fight With Major Marcus Brauer

03/13/2015 10:36 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - A Canadian Forces member who is locked in a legal battle with the federal government to recover $88,000 he lost on the sale of his home when he was forced to move says it's "unjust" that Ottawa has spent almost $65,000 fighting the case.

Maj. Marcus Brauer expressed his dismay Friday that the Treasury Board Secretariat has spent almost as much fighting the matter as he lost on the sale of his home when he was posted to Halifax from Bon Accord, Alta., in 2010.

"That they're paying any money to fight this is an injustice and it has had such traumatic effects on so many families," Brauer said in Halifax.

"All this to get the Treasury Board to follow their own policy, which is that soldiers don't have to pay out of pocket for relocation costs. It's unjustifiable."

The secretariat said Thursday that it has so far spent about $58,646 on the case, which includes $25,376 for Brauer's legal fees and disbursements, and $33,270 for the federal government's legal fees.

It also spent almost $6,000 for a third-party review of the housing market in Alberta that's at the centre of the dispute, making the total expenditure to just over $64,500.

The Treasury Board said in an email Friday that it was continuing its review and could not comment further. Treasury Board President Tony Clement said months ago that a decision would be coming "soon."

New Democrat MP Robert Chisholm, who represents the Halifax-area riding where Brauer lives, says the board should compensate him rather than fight it in the courts, even if it sets a precedent for other members.

"They haven't hesitated to spend money that should have been going to pay these amounts that Maj. Brauer and his family are entitled to," he said.

Brauer, a 43-year-old father of five, took the government to court last April to seek compensation for the $88,000 he lost on the sale of his home in Bon Accord. As a result, the Federal Court ordered Ottawa to review its decision to grant him only $15,000 to cover his losses.

Brauer's lawyer Daniel Wallace argued his client's losses should have been covered because there is a policy offering financial protection for military members forced to move from depressed housing markets.

Wallace argued that housing prices in Bon Accord dropped 23 per cent during the three years his client lived there, which is three percentage points above the 20 per cent threshold for a depressed market in the military's policy.

However, the Treasury Board Secretariat argued the municipality was part of the Edmonton market where housing prices dropped just 2.9 per cent.

The judge found the board failed to consider Brauer's contention that Bon Accord was a separate community of 1,500 with its own mayor and boundaries.

Brauer paid $405,000 in 2007 for the home in Bon Accord and sold it three years later for $317,000.

"We're just asking for what was just withheld from us so we can go back to where we were in 2010," he said. "This doesn't increase our wealth by any."

Wallace has also launched a proposed class-action lawsuit, which is still at a preliminary stage before the Federal Court.

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