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Editorial: Injury and insult

['Senator Fabian Manning announced $10.4 million for Newfoundland and Labrador small craft wharfs in Placentia on July 10.']
['Senator Fabian Manning announced $10.4 million for Newfoundland and Labrador small craft wharfs in Placentia on July 10.']

It was a short but colourful legal action. Earlier this week, the National Post reported that Newfoundland Sen. Fabian Manning was suing the House of Commons, the Canadian government and the federal Public Works Department after a slip-and-fall in the cafeteria in the House of Commons Centre Block two years ago.

Here’s part of the Post’s story: “according to the lawsuit, the 53-year-old Newfoundland senator suffered from post-concussion syndrome and soft-tissue injuries to his neck, back, left shoulder and left hip. It claims he’s had impaired cognitive functions, chronic headaches and disturbed sleep, and was prescribed ‘various medicines and assistive devices.’ The suit seeks $250,000, plus damages.” Included in that was $50,000 for Manning’s wife, to cover things like “loss of companionship.”

The Post story also pointed out that the injured Manning was in the Senate the very next day after his fall, voting and tabling a Senate report.

Now, if Manning had suffered such extensive injuries, he should have a right to receive compensation.

But instead of taking his employer to court, he might have tried another route, if for no other reason than to learn about how the other half lives.

Maybe, if he wanted to spend a few months wearing the shoes of an ordinary employee, instead of suing his employer, Manning might have tried to go through the workers’ compensation process.

After all, Ontario’s compensation system, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, argues that, “the WSIB will consider entitlement in claims where a worker is injured when … on a lunch, break, or other non-work period (period of leisure) by ordinary hazards of the employer’s premises.”

The problem is, of course, that anything like a $250,000 settlement would be completely out of reach under workers’ compensation, which is the route he probably should have taken anyway.

The federal Government Employees Compensation Act does say it applies to “any officer or employee of the Senate.”

The same legislation says, “Where an accident happens to an employee in the course of his employment under such circumstances as entitle him or his dependants to compensation under this Act, neither the employee nor any dependant of the employee has any claim against Her Majesty, or any officer, servant or agent of Her Majesty, other than for compensation under this Act.”

That question, and Manning’s injury situation, are now moot: he argues that he was merely trying to recover his out-of-pocket expenses, and that the $250,000 lawsuit was a misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding had quickly turned into a political embarrassment, especially after a former Canadian sniper posted on social media that $250,000 was roughly what the federal government paid him for the loss of both his legs.

Manning says he has told his lawyer to withdraw the lawsuit.

Still, that’s got to leave a mark.

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