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Agent Orange at Gagetown

From August 30, 2008

In 1966 and 1967, the Canadian Government permitted the United States military to secretly spray Agent Orange in the area of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. Dioxin, a component of Agent Orange, is known to cause genetic defects, soft-tissue sarcoma, lymphoma, leukemia, prostate cancer, and other diseases.

It was announced in 2006 by the Conservative Government that soldiers who had served at the base at Gagetown and met certain criteria would be eligible for one time payments of $20,000.

Unfortunately, it was soon revealed that the families of soldiers who died before Feb 6th, 2006, the day that Stephen Harper's government took office, would not receive the compensation of the deceased. As well, certain soldiers would be excluded, depending on the dates they were on the base, and on the type of diseases they had contracted. When asked to change the compensation criteria to include those who had been improperly left out, Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson was unwavering. According to Thompson, the compensation was "full and fair given the parameters and passage of time."

A lawyer representing some of the soldiers in their class-action lawsuit did not think so. "It is ridiculously inadequate. It's enough money to buy a used truck in exchange for what for many is daily pain and suffering."

This government hasn't given Canada's veterans the compensation, and respect, that they deserve.