Four years ago today they tragically lost four of their own, and mefloquine is the likely reason.
It is now four years since the Desmond family of Antigonish, Nova Scotia experienced the tragic and horrific loss of four beloved family members. Four years since the Desmonds lost their mother, Brenda, their sister-in-law, Shanna, their niece, Aaliyah, and their brother, Lionel.
I will not dwell on the details of what happened to them on that horrible day, rather I will address what I believe to be the reason for this incomprehensible tragedy, namely the antimalarial drug mefloquine, which he was seen taking during his tour in Afghanistan in 2007. I was contacted early last year by somebody who was with Lionel in Afghanistan, and he told me the he witnessed Lionel taking the neurotoxic drug that also goes by the brand name Lariam.
Former soldier with PTSD who killed himself and his family were victims of ‘systemic failures’: witness
Lionel was misdiagnosed. Although he may have been suffering from PTSD at the time he died, the result of his service in Asia, it is also entirely certain that he had been adversely affected by the mefloquine he had been given, and the symptoms that he had been showing are consistent with that. He and his family were not only failed by the government after he got home from Afghanistan, but they were also lied to about what was really wrong with him. Had Lionel Desmond been given the correct information and access to the proper resources that he needed, he and his family might still be alive today.
Lionel Desmond inquiry aims for mid-February resumption, barring technical delays
The Desmond Inquiry is scheduled to reconvene again in February, and whether evidence about mefloquine will be allowed to be introduced remains to be seen. In any event, such evidence wouldn’t have much of an effect on the outcome of the Inquiry given its scope. There will need to be another much larger investigation undertaken to look into this matter completely, something along the lines of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, though this is unlikely to occur barring growing public pressure.
The Desmond family, and all Canadians, deserve and have the right to know the truth. Lionel Desmond’s brain was damaged by a drug the Government of Canada knew to be neurotoxic, yet still ordered him to take under penalty of military justice. They lied to and misled him and thousands of other Canadian Forces personnel, resulting in the deaths of four people four years ago. Lives cut tragically and unimaginably short.
I therefore call on the government to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to address this and the other issues affecting Canadian veterans and their families on a daily basis, and I am asking other Canadians to do the same.
May almighty God hold Brenda, Lionel, Shanna, and Aaliyah in his bosom, and may they all rest in peace.