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Advocacy News - Bad news ... no wait, good news after all

November 30, 2004

Bad news ... no wait, good news after all
Gays & lesbians win survivor's benefits class action

By Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell

"Nobody gave us a gay and lesbian discount when we were paying into the CPP, so we should not have a gay and lesbian discount when they're paying out of the CPP," said Doug Elliott, the lead lawyer for the claimants."
The Toronto Star, Nov. 27, 2004

"Same-sex survivors lose appeal for CPP benefits", said a headline of a report issued by the dependable CBC (Nov. 26, 2004). "Gays and lesbians in Ontario are not entitled to survivor's benefits under the Canada Pension Plan dating back to 1985, Ontario's Court of Appeal ruled Friday."

"The impairment of the rights of same-sex survivors cannot be said to be minimal. On the contrary, it is significant ... it is also arbitrary."

Court of Appeal for Ontario,
Nov. 26, 2004

Various media outlets incorrectly reported the outcome of this important decision last Friday. The mistake was understable to anyone who scans the court decision looking for a quick answer. Even the law firm representing the surviving spouses thought they had lost.

"Bad news" read the subject line in an email from one of the lawyers at Roy Elliott Kim O'Connor, the firm that led the class action. Thirty minutes later we received another email. "Good news after all!" said the subject line.

Our hero Douglas Elliott was all smiles when we spoke with him at our party the day after his victory. Another discriminatory practice of the Liberal party government had been slapped down.

Trial Impressions
by Ed Kotanen

Click on images to enlarge sketches

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CPP Trial:
Class Member's Notes
by Jim Knoop

"First," the court decision from Ontario's court of appeal said, "same-sex surviving partners, by reason of their sexual orientation, were already a vulnerable group, and one subject to stereotyping as a result of that orientation. They had the same need for survivors' pensions as opposite-sex survivors. The denial of those survivors' pensions, without any corresponding ameliorative benefit to a more disadvantaged group, perpetuated the view that same-sex survivors Irwin Cotler:  A legal lapdog fetches an excuse for injustice.were less worthy of recognition than opposite-sex survivors, when in fact same-sex survivors were equally deserving of concern, recognition, and respect. Further, the denial of pensions to same-sex surviving partners increased their vulnerability and perpetuated such stereotyping. Finally, same-sex surviving partners were denied recognition of both the emotional and financial loss resulting from the death of their partners."

The court extended Canada Pension Plan coverage for surviving gay and lesbian partners to April 17, 1985, the day the Canadian Charter came into effect. Estates, however, of gays and lesbians who died waiting for survivors' pensions were not awarded money by the courts.

The government has not announced whether it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, however, the government still seems to be in denial.

"The case isn't about gay and lesbian rights," Canada's Justice Minister insists, according to the Toronto Star (Nov. 27).

Irwin Cotler, a man unworthy of the title "Justice Minister", continues to trash his undeserved former reputation as a human rights advocate. We have previously reported how the media have perceived his "painful" performance handling our marriage case as he places politics above justice and expediency above human rights. He continues to disgrace himself and his office, further demonstrating how corrupt his actions and judgment have become.

History of
the Widow's pension

Originally called the "widow's pension," the Canada Pension Plan was available to all widows of deceased male contributors. Widowers were entitled to a pension, but only if they were disabled at the time of their wives' deaths.

Creation of Canada Pension Plan
Commencement of CPP
All men allowed to collect their late wives' pensions
Common-law partners recognized but same-sex couples expressly excluded.
Canada Pension Plan Act recognized same-sex couples, retroactively to 1998

Cotler appears to lack a basic understanding of his portfolio. He seems unable to act in accordance with our Charter, and he is apparently willing to lie to Canadians. Fortunately, the courts engaged in the various marriage hearings and this pension case are buying none of Cotler's crap should he continue to dish it out during his ongoing fight against widows widowers and living, loving same-sex couples.

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