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Updated: Wed, 05 Mar 2014 17:52:56 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Rob Nicholson, defence minister, to apologize to dead soldier's mother for 1-cent cheque



Cpl. Justin Stark committed suicide in the John W. Foote VC Armouries in Hamilton in October of 2011. The federal government has sent a cheque for one cent to his home. Courtesy Stark Family

Cpl. Justin Stark committed suicide in the John W. Foote VC Armouries in Hamilton in October of 2011. The federal government has sent a cheque for one cent to his home. Courtesy Stark Family

National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson will apologize to the mother of a dead Hamilton soldier who went public with her story this week that the government had sent her dead son a cheque for one cent.

Nicholson told the House of Commons Wednesday that his staff had arranged a call for Thursday.

The issue was first raised in question period Tuesday in Ottawa. Cpl. Justin Stark, a 22-year-old infantry soldier with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, killed himself in the John W. FooteVC Armouries in Hamilton in October 2011.

Stark’s mother, Denise, received a cheque in the mail for a penny — presumably for owed military pay — from the federal government a few days ago.

“I can tell you … that we've contacted this woman and a telephone call has been arranged tomorrow and I will personally convey our apologies for this unacceptable incident,” Nicholson said.

The Defence Department has assured Nicholson there will be “better communication” so nothing similar happens again. “This is what this woman is owed,” he said.

Nicholson did not specify why the payment was issued, nor did he explain exactly what measures were being taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again. CBC News received no response to requests for further clarification on the matter.

Stark began a seven-month tour in Afghanistan in May 2010 after being a part of the armouries in Hamilton for four years. His duties included patrols of Nakhonay, a village southwest of Kandahar City.

His mother has been dealing with military tribunals for years due to her belief that his death was work related. All that stress has crippled her emotionally, said Keven Ellis, family friend and president of the North Wall Riders Association, a motorcycle club that supports soldiers and their families with fundraising and events. Stark’s mother still visits his grave every single day.

“Every day is a major struggle for her. To lose her son like that is devastating,” he said.

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