After accumulating thousands of dollars in debt and being dragged through 27 months of prosecution, MCpl. (ret’d) Collin Fitzgerald finally saw a ray of justice this week when his petition to the House of Commons was presented on in Parliament on May 2.
The Federal petition demands that an independent inquiry be held looking into the 27 month prosecution of this decorated war hero, demands an overhaul of the relationship between the Police Force and the Crown Attorney, and the government determine a way of compensating thousands of unjustly accused Canadians.
The petition, which was signed by hundreds of Canadians from across the country, was presented to the House of Commons by MP for Kingston and the Islands, Mark Gerretsenm who has been working with Fitzgerald since last fall to get his voice heard.
“Collin is one of many veterans who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, something he has struggled with for many years. Collin’s story is one of a military hero who has returned home to later face charges he claims are a result of his PTSD,” said Gerretsen in his address to Parliament.
The government now has 45 calendar days to respond to Fitzgerald’s petition.
“The issue of PTSD in the military is something we need to take very seriously. Collin’s story has resonated with a lot of people, including many in my riding of Kingston and the Islands, so I was honoured to present a petition on his behalf in the House of Commons,” said Gerretsen.
Fitzgerald’s story began in 2006 when the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry member was deployed to Afghanistan. The heroic actions taken by Fitzgerald during this time would lead him to receive a Medal of Valour, but the memories of the loss he witnessed would outweigh any other experiences from that deployment. Fitzgerald returned home from Afghanistan a changed man and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009.
Since then, he’s had a series of unfortunate, and often unfounded, run-ins with the law and was accused of several crimes he did not commit in 2014.
He faced three separate sets of charges including motor vehicle theft, harassment and intimidation of a police officer and breaching bail conditions in relation to alleged incidents in 2012 and 2014.
Each count, laid at the behest of the OPP states the petition, was dropped by the Crown in separate court proceedings.
However, Fitzgerald was left with a debt of more than $200,000.
His legal troubles also left him alienated from his daughter.
The petition notes that reports indicate that the justice system is slow, inefficient and costly. According to the Ontario Court of Justice, out of the 205,200 cases resolved in 2015, more than 82,400 of the charges were stated or withdrawn before trial and another 9,900 were dropped at the trial stage.
“Therefore Canadians deserve a constructive response from those responsible including the police Crown prosecutors courts governments correction authors and others to work towards a justice system not a legal system,” stated the petition.
Reflecting on this milestone, Fitzgerald felt gratitude for all those who have supported him throughout his journey.
“I have a deep appreciation and respect for Mark Gerretsen MP for Kingston and the Islands and his amazingly dedicated and very knowledgeable staff for all the work that was completed before Mark's heartfelt and impactful presentation to the House of Commons on May 2 2017.
”I feel very fortunate to live in Kingston and have an MP who is undeniably demonstrating his strong support for our Canadian Forces. Mark and his staff have my respect.
“Without Kerri Tadeu whom I co-created SerViCe & SacriFice – Soldier, Veteran, Civilian, Fallen with, I would not be able to thank Canadians who from Coast to Coast signed my Federal petition that was accepted by The House of Commons.,” said Fitzgerald.