DND officials none too happy with pricey retirement moves: documents
OTTAWA – Top officials at National Defence weren’t happy to learn Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Andrew Leslie and a dozen of his peers used the military’s generous retirement resettlement policy to pay for moves within the same city over the past five years – a policy they recommended be reviewed.
Emails obtained by Global News show both the deputy minister and chief of defence staff at National Defence were uncomfortable with the idea that the intended place of residence policy was used to pay for moves within the same city.
The policy pays for military members to expense one final move after retirement to ensure they have a choice of where to live after being under the orders of the military for decades.
Most of the moves are to new cities or provinces, but documents released early this year showed over the past five years 13 generals expensed moves to different houses, not different cities.
The costliest of those moves was made by Leslie, a Liberal advisor, who expensed $72,000 to move from one house in an upscale Ottawa neighbourhood to a home just minutes away.
“I do not believe [same-city] moves were justifiable – I doubt many Canadians wld [sic] support their continued use,” wrote Deputy Minister of National Defence Richard Fadden in an email to Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson.
The email is dated Feb. 16, 2014, the day after news of the moves first made headlines.
Fadden went on to say that he would suggest to the Minister that the perk be “urgently” reviewed, a suggestion he said he raised with the chief of military personnel two weeks prior.
Lawson in his response said the intent of the policy is justified in terms of allowing military members to move to the location of their choice after their years of service are over.
But he questioned whether “same-city” moves could be supported in the same way, calling them “a bit rich for taxpayer blood.”
“The question is, while relocation to a desired locale seems supportable, what about the case of those who are already in the desired locale, but not their dream home,” Lawson wrote, agreeing a review was needed.
The following day Defence Minister Rob Nicholson ordered a comprehensive review of the policy saying it was not intended to “pay $72,000 for generals to move between mansions within the same city.”
The government has yet to respond to Global News’ request for an update on the status of the review.
National Defence paid nearly $600,000 to move Generals, many of them retired, within the same city or just outside the city limits over the past five years.
When the reports emerged, Leslie defended the policy, saying it fairly compensates uniformed members for many moves over the course of their service.
“No restrictions, no quibbling,” he said at the time. “You can move to Victoria, or you can move next door.”
Leslie has yet to respond to Global News’ request for comment regarding the military’s reaction to his moving expenses.
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