February 2, 2023

Trudeau not committing to timeline for independent military sexual misconduct system – National

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not committing to having a plan for implementing an independent reporting system for military sexual misconduct by the end of the summer.

That comes as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that he has asked for a roadmap to implement major reforms for that country’s military — including removing sexual assault prosecutions from the military chain of command — within 60 days.

“It’s important to highlight that yes, we have asked Justice Louise Arbour to lean in on what it is we need to do as a country to ensure the culture in our military is transformed, that the measures in place make changes. But Madame Arbour and I both absolutely agree that we can’t wait a year for that final report,” Trudeau said during a press conference on Friday.

“That’s why she will be offering up suggestions and recommendations as soon as they come forward on things we can do to make sure we are putting an end to the culture that accepts and tolerates misogyny and discrimination within our Armed Forces.

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“The women and men in our Armed Forces deserve much better than that.”

Trudeau had been asked specifically whether he would commit to laying out a plan by the end of the summer to implement an independent reporting structure for military sexual misconduct.

READ MORE: Sexual misconduct in Canada’s military remains as ‘rampant’ in 2021 as in 2015: report

Austin posted a series of tweets on Friday in which he laid out the reforms he wants to see to deal with sexual assault and related crimes in the U.S. military.

He said he is directing the Department of Defense to begin work with the goal of removing sexual assault prosecutions from the military chain of command and adding sexual harassment specifically as an offence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

He also said there will be new dedicated offices within each military department to handle the prosecution of sexual assault and related crimes including domestic violence, child abuse and retaliation, and that this will include “appropriate legal oversight and guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, consistent with existing practices.”

Perhaps most notable though was his direction to the deputy secretary of defense to prepare a roadmap to implement those reforms, and provide that roadmap to him within 60 days.

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Click to play video: 'Military ombudsman blasts Ottawa for inaction on sexual misconduct'







Military ombudsman blasts Ottawa for inaction on sexual misconduct


Military ombudsman blasts Ottawa for inaction on sexual misconduct – Jun 22, 2021

The order comes as the Trudeau government faces ongoing questions about its commitment to implement an independent reporting system for military sexual misconduct, and when that will happen.

The Canadian Forces is facing a reckoning and what experts have described as an institutional “crisis” over sexual misconduct within its ranks — a longstanding problem that has been in the spotlight over the last five months following Global News reporting on allegations against the former top soldier.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, who retired as chief of the defence staff in January 2021, is facing allegations from two female subordinates of inappropriate behaviour. He denies the allegations.

Military police are investigating those allegations as well as several others against senior leaders in the Canadian military, including current chief of the defence staff Adm. Art McDonald.

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McDonald stepped aside temporarily in late February when military police opened a probe into an allegation against him, and Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre is currently acting in his place.

McDonald has declined to comment on the allegation, citing the ongoing investigation and legal advice.

The allegations sparked two parliamentary committee probes into sexual misconduct in the military as well as an independent external review led by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour.

But the review has up to a year — potentially a little bit more — to present a final report, and there have been few hints yet of what actions the government will take in the meantime or how specific any interim reports that Arbour may issue will be in urging immediate action.

Multiple witnesses who testified before the parliamentary committees have urged the creation of an independent reporting system for military sexual misconduct, which was a key recommendation from the landmark 2015 Deschamps report that documented the extent of sexual misconduct in the military.

Six years on though, little appears to have changed.

A review by former Supreme Court justice Morris Fish into the military justice system in June found that sexual misconduct remains as “rampant” and “destructive” in the Canadian Forces as it was in 2015.

READ MORE: ‘This cannot persist’: Military ombudsman blasts ‘vested political interests’ impeding office

Military ombudsman Gregory Lick last month issued a blistering paper calling for urgent changes to bolster the independence of his office as part of a push for more accountability in probes of allegations.

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He specifically pointed the finger at what he described as “vested political interests” complicating efforts at reform.

“When leaders turn a blind eye to our recommendations and concerns in order to advance political interests and their own self-preservation or career advancement, it is the members of the defence community that suffer the consequences,” he said in a press conference.

“It is clear that inaction is rewarded far more than action.”

Lick said the lack of action taken in the more than four months since Global News first reported on allegations of high-level sexual misconduct has “bitterly proved this point.”




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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