'Only the beginning': 8 investigations launched into military sexual misconduct

Eight investigations have been launched in the six months since a military crisis centre opened to address sexual misconduct, Canada’s top soldier says.

See Full Article

While Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said this is “only the beginning of the mission,” victim’s advocates are unconvinced that the right steps are being taken to make victims feel comfortable coming forward.

Vance released the first progress report Monday, on the Canadian Armed Forces’ efforts to address “inappropriate sexual behaviour” after a former Supreme Court judge concluded last year that sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the military.

Vance said the military has adopted, or is working on, a number of recommendations outlined in Marie Deschamps’ damning report.

Since Deschamps’ report was released in March, 2015, the military has opened a sexual misconduct response centre, where members and others can file complaints. The centre operates “outside of the military chain of command,” but provides the armed forces with the information needed to implement new policies, according to the progress report.

The progress report shows that 204 individuals, including 156 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, contacted the sexual misconduct response centre between Sept. 15, 2015 and the end of December.

Of those, 53 reported an alleged sexual offence and 32 contacted the centre about sexual harassment.

The report says that 23 calls to the response centre were referred to a military police liaison officer, and six investigations were opened as of the end of December.

Vance said two other investigations have been opened in the past month.

When Vance took command last summer, he vowed to change the military culture and end “harmful behaviour.”

“Last July, I lamented the fact that there were, within our ranks, members who bullied, degraded and even assaulted fellow brothers and sisters in arms, preying on those perceived as different or vulnerable,” he said Monday.

“This will take time, but we are determined,” he said. “The consequences of not succeeding are simply too dire.”

He said that type of behaviour cannot persist and called the first progress report “a start.”

The military is planning to survey personnel to better understand the scope of the problem, Vance said.

Statistics Canada will design the survey for all 66,000 full-time members and 21,000 part-time military members.

However, the military cannot force members to participate, according to Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, who is leading the charge against sexual misconduct.

Whitecross told CTV Power Play that although eight investigations may seem like a low number, they represent “eight investigations we wouldn’t normally have.”

She added that Deschamps had made clear that the military should empower victims to come forward, but allow them to decide whether to register official complaints.

Bailey Reid, from the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, told CTV Power Play that those identified in the report represent “probably only about 10 per cent” of those affected.

Reid said the military’s definition of harassment needs work because it doesn’t look at the problem through a “gendered lens.”

“I think that something they really need to acknowledge is that a lot of Armed Forces culture is this built-in toxic masculinity,” Reid said. “I want to see words like misogyny and power and control.”

Whitecross told Power Play that the military is looking at their definition of sexual harassment and is hoping to have new policies in place “by summer.”

Retired Col. Michel Drapeau, who works as a lawyer for women who claim sexual assault, told CTV Power Play he’s not sure whether victims yet have “a sense of confidence that the military has got it.”

“Have we done anything at all to reduce the number of those who don’t report the crimes?” he said.

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison said Monday that the progress report is encouraging, but the military still needs "an effective complaint process and an effective discipline process and a culture where people don't believe they will become the victims if they complain.”

Garrison said one way to address the culture is to focus on hiring more women.

Only about 15 per cent of military members are women, Garrison said. He blamed the previous Conservative government for reducing recruiting efforts across the country.

“We’re looking for a commitment from this new government.” Garrison told reporters.

With a report from The Canadian Press



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reeling in the wake of monster blizzard

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- States of emergency, as well as blizzard and storm surge warnings, remained in effect in parts of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador early this morning. The intense snowfall that buried St. John's and many other communities bringing them to a standstill on Friday slowed overnight, and according to Environment Canada was expected to end later this morning. Source
  • Rescue underway for South Koreans missing in Nepal avalanche

    World News CBC News
    Seven trekkers, including four South Koreans, went missing in Nepal's northwest Himalayan region after an avalanche hit their trail, local police and hiking officials said on Saturday. The area where the avalanche struck the group, which also included three local guides, is estimated to be about 150 kilometres northwest of Nepali capital Kathmandu, according to the officials. Source
  • Did a killer walk free after this man's autopsy?

    Canada News CBC News
    A battered body, neck abrasions and signs of a violent struggle. When the RCMP first investigated the death of Preston Lochead at his home in Airdrie, Alta., in 2010, they called in the major crimes unit. Source
  • Record-smashing blizzard holds eastern Newfoundland in grip

    Canada News CBC News
    Much of eastern Newfoundland remained in the grip of a stunning blizzard early Saturday, although wickedly high winds that had racked the island were subsiding. Officials pleaded with residents to stay inside and off roads, which were so dangerous that even government plows could not cope with a record-setting onslaught. Source
  • FBI arrests reveal shocking details in case against former Canadian reservist Patrik Mathews

    Canada News CBC News
    FBI officers have arrested more alleged members of a racially motivated and violent extremist group that a former Manitoba reservist has been accused of recruiting for — and court documents tell a chilling tale that includes plans to murder a married couple and overthrow the U.S. Source
  • Panama man pulled 2 children from clutches of killer cult

    World News CTV News
    EL TERRON, PANAMA -- Indigenous farmer Josue Gonzalez recalled how his pregnant wife and children were taken from their home by cult members in the remote hamlet of El Terron in Panama. Gonzalez was out working his fields of taro and rice Monday when the lay preachers of the "The New Light of God" came for the family and dragged them to an improvised church at a nearby ranch. Source
  • Canadian fire specialists land in Australia to fight wildfire

    World News CTV News
    MELBOURNE -- Canadian fire specialists were greeted with applause when they landed in Melbourne on Saturday to join an international team fighting the devastating Australian wildfires. The team of 28 Canadians will spend the next month in Victoria as part of the state’s emergency response team. Source
  • Newfoundlanders, hunkered down in blistering winter storm, stockpile their #stormchips

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- When you’re about to be buried in two-and-a-half feet of snow, what’s the one food item you want to stock up on? If you live in Newfoundland, there may only be one right answer: chips. Source
  • B.C. woman left in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn 32 years ago finds her birth parents

    Canada News CBC News
    More than three decades after Teanna Elliot was found abandoned in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn, she has found her birth parents. Elliot, 32, is perhaps better known as "Baby Mary." She was discovered by two boys in Calgary on Nov. Source
  • Dentist overcharged more than $5K for ice cream gets reimbursed by bank

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A dentist from Winnipeg has been reimbursed by his bank after he was charged more than $5,000 for two servings of ice cream in Costa Rica. David Kindrat said that when he bought his wife and daughter ice cream in the tourist town of Tamarindo, he thought he was paying in the local currency of Costa Rican colones. Source