July 10th, 2014

Conservatives hamstring external review on military sexual assault

The Conservatives have specifically excluded any examination of how the military justice system has handled sexual assault cases in their upcoming external review of sexual misconduct and harassment in the armed forces.

The way Canadian military police and the Judge Advocate General’s office handle sexual assault reports will be excluded from scrutiny, meaning that the review will not be able to examine the systematic failure to investigate or prosecute sexual crimes in the military.

“Any meaningful investigation must look at all aspects of Canada’s military justice system, and its findings must be made public,” said NDP Defence critic Jack Harris (St. John’s East). “Instead, the Conservatives have set up a process that specifically excludes the key issue of military justice and how the system has failed victims of sexual assault. The review won’t be able to look at some of the most serious problems that have been reported.”

The external review was launched after reports that approximately five sexual assaults take place every day in the Canadian military, many of which go unreported due to a lack of confidence that complaints will be appropriately dealt with. New Democrats have called for a full judicial commission into these reports.

“The Conservatives love to talk about supporting victims, but when it’s time to take action they’re not there,” said NDP deputy Defence critic Élaine Michaud (Portneuf – Jacques-Cartier). “It’s time for them to stop passing the buck and take real action to protect the women and men in the Canadian Forces from sexual assault.”