'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

  • Man charged in toddler's 2014 death linked to snake venom

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - A 51-year-old man has been arrested in the 2014 death of a two-year-old girl and North Vancouver Mounties say it's believe she was poisoned by snake venom. Police say Henry Thomas had the girl in his care on May 18, 2014, and returned her to her mother that day in North Vancouver. Source
  • 7 shot to death at home in Mexican resort city of Cancun

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Authorities say three gunmen have shot to death seven people at a house in the Mexican resort city of Cancun, in an apparent dispute between street-level drug dealers. Cancun is located in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo. Source
  • B.C. man who left moose to suffer before death is convicted, fined in court

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- A man who illegally shot a moose in British Columbia's southern Interior has been fined $10,000 after leaving the animal to suffer before it died. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says it began an investigation in November 2017 after the man from Surrey, B.C. Source
  • Premier says no changes to Quebec gun registry despite call for better screening

    Canada News CTV News
    QUEBEC - The head of the Quebec City mosque where six men were killed in a shooting almost two years ago wants the province to tighten up controls over who has access to firearms. In a letter to Premier Francois Legault, Boufeldja Benabdallah identifies a weakness when it comes to verifying people who have mental health problems. Source
  • Man who killed Const. Sarah Beckett gets partial parole for rehab treatment

    Canada News CTV News
    ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - A drunk driver who killed RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett in a crash has been granted limited day parole to attend alcohol abuse treatment. Kenneth Fenton was handed a five-year, six-month prison sentence in July 2017 and his first parole hearing was held today at a medium-security prison in Abbotsford, B.C. Source
  • Expect more extreme hurricanes on the East Coast due to faster ice melts in Greenland, study says

    World News CBC News
    Ice is melting in an unexpected region of Greenland at a rate that is unprecedented in the past century, according to a study published Monday, which could lead to rising sea levels and increasingly wild weather on the East Coast. Source
  • European Union sanctions heads of Russian intelligence for poisoning former spy and daughter

    World News CBC News
    The European Union has sanctioned the heads of Russia's military intelligence and two of their officers for poisoning a former Russian double agent in Britain last year, a decision Moscow dismissed as groundless. The EU travel bans and asset freezes issued Monday are against two men Britain has named as Russia intelligence officers Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and accused of attempting to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Source
  • Russia brandishes new superweapons as U.S. threatens to scrap nuclear treaty

    World News CBC News
    Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday. Source
  • Man accused of throwing trailer hitch at woman in Thunder Bay, Ont., to stand trial for 2nd degree murder

    Canada News CBC News
    A Thunder Bay, Ont., man will stand trial for second degree murder in the death of an Indigenous woman who was hit by a trailer hitch in January 2017. Brayden Bushby was initially charged with aggravated assault, accused of throwing a metal trailer hitch from a moving vehicle which struck 34-year-old Barbara Kentner. Source
  • Death toll in Mexico pipeline fire reaches 89

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- The death toll in a massive fire at an illegally tapped pipeline in Mexico rose to 89 Monday as more of the injured have died at hospitals. Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said 51 victims severely burned in the fire were still in hospitals, two of them in Galveston, Texas. Source