The Current

Gen. Tom Lawson's 'biologically wired' comment is helpful

The reaction to Canada's top military man was swift after his 'biologically wired' comment but was it constructive? Maybe General Tom Lawson's candor should be seen as a teachable moment. By trying to explain away the culture of the military, he exposed it. So should his critics be shaming him or thanking him?

Thank you Tom Lawson

General Tom Lawson is coming under fire after blaming the military's problem of sexual misconduct on men being "biologically wired" that way. The outgoing Chief of Defence Stance has since tried to walk back the remarks, which he made in a CBC interview Tuesday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
Listen22:00
Gen. Tom Lawson, the outgoing chief of the defence staff, tells Peter Mansbridge the problem of sexual harassment in the military persists because of how men are 'biologically wired.' 1:32

And with that, Canada's top military man -- General Tom Lawson -- set off a fire storm.

His remarks during a CBC interview on Tuesday with Peter Mansbridge, re-ignited fury over the Canadian Forces' response to sexual misconduct and harassment in its ranks. 

Watch the full interview with Gen. Tom Lawson on The National

The outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff has since issued a clarification, describing his earlier remarks as "an awkward characterization"... but that hasn't stopped the calls for his immediate resignation from ringing out, on Parliament Hill... and on social media. 

But perhaps General Lawson's remarks should be welcomed, as an opportunity... a glimpse at the truth, or even cause for celebration. Comedian Erica Sigurdson agrees.
 

Tom Lawson has done us all a favour.  Well, maybe not his public relations team, but the rest of Canada owes Tom a thank-you tweet...  I think we should thank Tom Lawson for truly showing us what's going on in the Canadian military and put down the pitchforks and pick up the brooms.- Comedian Erica Sigurdsons

Today we were joined by two guests who work in the prevention of sexual harassment standing by to take up her call -- and continue the conversation. 

  • Jeff Perera is a healthy masculinities advocate and speaker who runs HigherUnlearning.com. He was in Toronto.
  • Julie Lalonde is a sexual-assault prevention educator and she was in Ottawa. 
     
We also requested an interview with General Tom Lawson and Lieutenant General Christine Whitecross, the Commander of the Strategic Response Team on Sexual Conduct. Neither was available, but you can listen to our interview from earlier this month with Lieutenant General Whitecross. ​
Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson sits down with Peter Mansbrige. 19:06

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Leif Zapfe-Gilje.