Friday May 15, 2015

Former Canadian soldier says complaints of sexual harassment ignored

Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court justice is the author of an inquiry into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces. The report describes a problematic, sexualized culture inside the forces. General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, is at left.

Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court justice is the author of an inquiry into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces. The report describes a problematic, sexualized culture inside the forces. General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, is at left. (CP/Adrian Wyld)

Listen 22:00
Sexual Misconduct Military 20150430

General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, speaks about the findings of an inquiry's report into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces. (CP/Adrian Wyld)

"As to the findings of the report, I'll be very clear...they're disturbing. Disturbing to me. Disturbing to the leaders within the Canadian Armed Forces. And I believe, they will be disturbing for the great majority of our members in uniform." - Canada's top soldier, General Tom Lawson, responding last month to a scathing report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

The report, by retired Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, described a problematic, sexualized culture inside the forces. It found that sexual misconduct was "endemic" and that the military's leadership tolerated it.

General Lawson pledged to address the reports findings. But this week, questions emerged about the military brass's commitment to doing that, when CBC News reported that weeks before the report was published, General Lawson issued orders for the military to plan to ignore two of its central recommendations, including the call for an independent body to deal with complaints.

Nicola Peffers held the rank of Ordinary Seaman in the Canadian Navy. She brought forward complaints of sexual harassment while on duty, though none of her allegations have been proven in court. Nicola Peffers was medically discharged in 2012. She says she now suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Nicola Peffers is currently working on a memoir about her experiences, titled, "The Black Deck." She was in Victoria.

We requested interviews with or comments from the Department of National Defense and Defense Minister Jason Kenney. DND referred us to an earlier statement about the Forces commitment to addressing sexual misconduct in the military. Here is that statement by the Chief of the Defence Staff

The Canadian Forces Military Police said the Privacy Act prohibits them from commenting on Nicola Peffers' case. We didn't hear back from Minister Kenney's office.

Phillip Millar is lawyer and a former combat officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. He has represented 25 women who say they were sexually harassed while serving in the Canadian military. Philip Millar was in London, Ontario. 
 

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson, Sujata Berry and Howard Goldenthal.