'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

  • Winter's approach sets clock ticking for Ukraine, Russia

    World News CTV News
    KYIV, Ukraine - The onset of autumnal weather, with rains making fields too muddy for tanks, is beginning to cloud Ukraine's efforts to take back more Russian-held territory before winter freezes the battlefields, a Washington-based think tank said Sunday. Source
  • Nova Scotians take stock in aftermath of Fiona

    Canada News CBC News
    Many Nova Scotians will be spending part of Sunday in temporary shelters, making insurance calls, revving up chainsaws and wielding rakes as they clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona. The storm raged through the province on Saturday, downing trees and power lines, flooding homes and washing out roads, and leaving more than 270,000 Nova Scotia Power customers without electricity on Sunday morning. Source
  • Age and immigration: 'Very difficult' for applicants once they turn 40

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada is credited for having one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly policies, ranking fourth internationally in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. But the criteria used to prioritize applicants based on age leaves many at a disadvantage, even though they might have the qualifications Canada is looking for. Source
  • Polls open in Italy, where voters could bring far-right to power

    World News CBC News
    Italians were voting on Sunday in an election that could move the country's politics sharply toward the right during a critical time for Europe, with war in Ukraine fuelling skyrocketing energy bills and testing the West's resolve to stand united against Russian aggression. Source
  • Can new legislation help 'Lost Canadians' be found again?

    Canada News CBC News
    When Pete Giesbrecht was summoned to his local police station on Halloween 2015, he had no idea he was 30 days away from being deported. His crime? He had not reaffirmed his Canadian citizenship before the age of 28 under a complicated, confusing and not well publicized section of the Citizenship Act. Source
  • From HP sauce to Burberry, the future of the Queen's endorsements is up in the air

    World News CBC News
    Around the world, the kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms of the population have something in common with many of the United Kingdom's royal palaces. They are often stocked with the same items personally selected by Her Majesty The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, marked by what's known as a royal warrant. Source
  • Canada boosts capacity of key supply hub for weapons to Ukraine

    World News CBC News
    Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is boosting its capacity at a key transportation hub in Scotland, so weapons and other supplies can more easily be shipped to Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe. Canadian forces have been responsible for delivering four million pounds of cargo since March, and the Prestwick, Scotland hub will now be expanded into an air mobility detachment with a third CC-130 aircraft and 55 Canadian Armed Forces members present. Source
  • South Korea says North Korea test-fired missile toward sea

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's military says North Korea has fired at least one unidentified ballistic missile toward its eastern sea. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday did not immediately say what type of missile it was or how far it flew. Source
  • Homecoming at Western University closes main roads in London, Ont., as police try to contain parties

    Canada News CBC News
    Western University's homecoming celebrations kicked off early Saturday with mobs of students blocking traffic and police from multiple jurisdictions preparing for a long night. Emergency crews were on scene as an estimated 20,000 young people dressed in school colours spilled out of houses onto Richmond Street and other roads in the university neighbourhoods. Source
  • Trudeau says military will aid Nova Scotia cleanup, cancels trip to Japan

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday the Canadian military will be deployed to help Nova Scotia recover from damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona. The prime minister also told reporters in a press conference Saturday afternoon that he would "of course" no longer be embarking on a previously scheduled trip to Japan for the state funeral of Shinzo Abe, who was killed in July. Source