'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

  • Passenger train partly derails in Australia, killing 2

    World News CTV News
    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Several cars on a passenger train derailed in southeastern Australia, killing two operators and injuring 12 other people, police said. The train was heading from Sydney to Melbourne late Thursday when part of it came off the tracks in Victoria state near Wallan. Source
  • Wet'suwet'en chiefs to spend Friday with Mohawk supporters in Ontario

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A group of hereditary leaders from the Wet'suwet'en Nation in British Columbia is to spend the day with Mohawk supporters in Ontario. The B.C. hereditary chiefs are thanking the Mohawks for supporting them in opposition to a pipeline project on their traditional territory by blocking a critical rail line between Toronto and Montreal. Source
  • First round of Wuhan evacuees to be released from quarantine today

    Canada News CTV News
    Full coverage CTVNews.ca/Coronavirus First round of Wuhan evacuees to be released from quarantine today As Canadians from cruise ship fly home, those who tested positive can only wait Source
  • Thai court orders popular opposition party dissolved

    World News CTV News
    BANGKOK -- Thailand's constitutional Court on Friday ordered the popular opposition Future Forward Party dissolved, declaring that it violated election law by accepting a loan from its leader. The court also imposed a 10-year ban on the party's executive members holding political office. Source
  • Latino voters can make or break Democratic campaigns. They're about to get their say in 2020

    World News CBC News
    Latino voters turned the course of the Democratic presidential primaries in 2016. They're about to get their say in 2020. Starting this weekend in Nevada, followed just over a week later by the delegate-bountiful states of California and Texas, Hispanic voters will play a make-or-break role. Source
  • Be warned, Conservatives: a failed leadership bid is not a career-builder

    Canada News CBC News
    There are two types of candidates vying for the Conservative leadership — those who have a plausible chance of winning and those who don't. Only the second category is getting larger. Maybe the people in this second group think they can pull off an unlikely upset. Source
  • Government asking for an extra $2.1 billion for Indigenous programs

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is asking Parliament to spend an additional $2.1 billion on Indigenous programs and initiatives, above and beyond what MPs already have approved. While $2 billion of the proposed spending for Indigenous services would be new money, supplementary estimates tabled in Parliament show that more than $53 million in net transfers from various departments would go to a wide range of Indigenous programs and projects. Source
  • Grief, anger and calls for action after shooting in Germany

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- Thousands have gathered in cities across Germany to hold vigils for the victims of a racially motivated shooting, amid growing calls for authorities to crack down on far-right extremism. A 43-year-old German man shot dead nine people of immigrant background in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau Wednesday before killing his mother and himself. Source
  • Iran votes in parliament elections that favour conservatives

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, IRAN -- Iranians were voting for a new parliament Friday, with turnout seen as a key measure of support for Iran's leadership as sanctions weigh on the economy and isolate the country diplomatically. The disqualification of more than 7,000 potential candidates, most of them reformists and moderates, raised the possibility of lower-than-usual turnout. Source
  • Charter flight carrying quarantined cruise passengers lands at CFB Trenton

    Canada News CBC News
    The charter plane carrying more than 200 Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has landed at CFB Trenton in Ontario. The plane, which touched down just after 2 a.m. ET, was carrying passengers from the cruise liner that was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan since early February due to an outbreak of COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. Source