The court hears arguments in case #29207, Joseph Patrick Authorson, deceased, by his Litigation Administrator, Peter Mountney, and by his Litigation Guardian, Lenore Majoros, on April 10, 2003.
Since 1915, the Canadian government has provided pensions and other financial assistance to disabled veterans. An administrator may be appointed to managing these funds if a veteran is incapable of doing so. On occasions when the Department of Veterans Affairs was itself appointed administrator of a veteran’s benefits, the funds would be deposited in the government’s general account and tracked as though they were in a special purpose account in the name of the veteran. Until 1990, these funds were rarely credited with interest.
In an attempt to limit the government’s liability for the department’s failure to pay interest on these account in the past, Parliament enacted section 5.1 (4) of the Department of Veterans Affairs Act. In 1999, Joseph Authorson, a veteran whose funds were managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs until 1991, was named the representative in a class action lawsuit against the government, alleging breach of fiduciary duty in light of the government’s failure to pay interest on or to invest the funds. The Ontario courts found that the federal government had indeed breached its fiduciary duty to veterans whose funds it was responsible for managing, a decision the government is now appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lawyer Graham Garton presents arguments on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada.