29 booted from Cana­dian Forces for sex­ual mis­con­duct

The Barrie Examiner - - NATIONAL NEWS - LEE BERTHI­AUME THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

OT­TAWA — More than two dozen ser­vice mem­bers have been kicked out of the Forces since Canada’s top mil­i­tary of­fi­cer promised to take no pris­on­ers when it came to sex­ual mis­con­duct in the ranks.

And that could be just the be­gin­ning as de­fence of­fi­cials say they are still re­view­ing dozens of other cases in which mil­i­tary per­son­nel have been im­pli­cated in in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­iour.

Chief of de­fence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance warned Forces mem­bers last year that he would seek to re­move any­one and every­one who is found to have acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

The move came amid frus­tra­tion that some mem­bers were con­tin­u­ing to en­gage in such ac­tiv­ity de­spite his un­equiv­o­cal or­ders to cease and de­sist.

“I gave an or­der to ev­ery mem­ber of the Cana­dian Armed Forces that this be­hav­iour had to stop,” Vance said in Novem­ber 2016. “My or­ders were clear.”

Fig­ures re­leased to The Cana­dian Press by the De­fence Depart­ment show that since the be­gin­ning of the year, 29 ser­vice mem­bers have been forced to leave the mil­i­tary as part of that crack­down.

Ten oth­ers have been al­lowed to stay, but have ei­ther been given a for­mal warn­ing or are on pro­ba­tion or un­der or­ders to seek coun­selling. Four more es­caped with­out any pun­ish­ment due to a lack of ev­i­dence.

An­other 83 cases are cur­rently be­ing re­viewed by mil­i­tary of­fi­cials in Ot­tawa — mean­ing the num­ber of ser­vice mem­bers kicked out of uni­form be­cause of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour is al­most cer­tain to rise.

It may come as a sur­prise to hear that some mem­bers are be­ing al­lowed to stay in the Forces de­spite in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour, par­tic­u­larly given Vance’s hard­line stance.

Col. Lloyd MacKenzie, chief of staff for the Cana­dian Forces strate­gic re­sponse team on sex­ual mis­con­duct, said those cases be­ing re­viewed in­clude both crim­i­nal be­hav­iour and ar­guably lesser of­fences such as sex­ual jokes.

“The re­lease re­late for those who have ac­tu­ally been found guilty in a ser­vice tri­bunal or civil­ian court is some­thing like 98 per cent,” MacKenzie said. “But for those who have told a cou­ple dirty jokes ... (the re­view­ers) look at a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent things.”

Among the con­sid­er­a­tions are the na­ture of the be­hav­iour, whether the per­son is a first-time or re­peat of­fender, and if they have been in the Forces for a long time or hold a se­nior po­si­tion.

“Where it’s not a re­peat prob­lem and there doesn’t seem to be other ex­ac­er­bat­ing cir­cum­stances,” MacKenzie said, “they’re the ones get­ting the recorded warn­ings, the coun­selling and pro­ba­tion.”

Mil­i­tary per­son­nel re­ported 504 in­ci­dents of in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­iour in the year be­tween April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, Na­tional De­fence has pre­vi­ously re­ported, with the ma­jor­ity in­volv­ing jokes and lan­guage.

Vance took a hard line on in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­iour in the Forces after a se­ries of me­dia re­ports sev­eral years ago that de­scribed the prob­lem as chronic and en­demic.

Jonathan Vance

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