Federal government spends $30,000 to fight $2,653 swimming pool maintenance bill

·Politics Reporter

It seems common sense doesn't always prevail when it comes to federal government.

The Ottawa Citizen published a story Monday, about Ian Thomson, a retired diplomat who has battled the Feds for six years to recoup $2,653.56 - the amount of money he spent on pool maintenance while posted in Dubai between 2006 and 2008.

The dispute dates back to 2006, when Thomson, a long time public servant with Agriculture Canada, accepted a federal posting in the scorching desert climate of the UAE.

An administrator told Thomson he'd be getting a villa with a swimming pool but he'd have to pay to maintain it.

Thomson agreed on condition that such an arrangement was standard: "I assume the carrying out of this maintenance will occur under costs and conditions no less favourable than those enjoyed by any other Canada-based officers in Dubai," he wrote in response to the housing offer. The consulate administrator did not respond to his email.

Soon after arriving in Dubai, however, Thomson discovered that he was the only Canadian staff member who paid for pool upkeep out of his own pocket.

He complained to the bureaucracy but to no avail.

So, after retiring in 2009, Thomson took the government to small claims court and won a judgement for the $2,653.56.

To his surprise, the federal government appealed the decision.

Last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Catherine Aitken upheld Thomson's small claims court victory.

Aitken said the small claims judge rightly found that Thomson was unfairly treated compared to other Canadian consulate staff, none of whom paid maintenance costs for swimming pools at their residences in Dubai.

But yet again, according to the Ottawa Citizen, the government says they're going to appeal.

Through access-to-information legislation, Thomson said, he has discovered that the government has already spent about$30,000 on the case.

The federal government is looking for $4 billion to cut from its operating expenditures.

Maybe they should pick their battles a little more wisely.

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