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March 8th, 2021

NDP calls on Trudeau to stop failing women in the Canadian Armed Forces

OTTAWA - On International Women's Day, the NDP’s Critic for Women and Gender Equality, Lindsay Mathyssen, called on the Prime Minister to explain how women in the armed forces can expect their accusations of harassment to be taken seriously when his government continues to ignore accusations against its top members.

“Justin Trudeau promised to address the pervasive problems of violence, misconduct and sexual harassment in the armed forces, and the more we learn, the more we realize that allegations of sexual misconduct towards the most senior member of the Canadian Forces were not taken seriously,” said Mathyssen. “Instead, everyone involved seemed to have been passing the buck and hoping that the problem would go away. Women deserve much better than that from this government.”

The former military ombudsman told a parliamentary committee that Minister Sajjan refused to hear important information regarding sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance. Then, just last week, reports surfaced that a senior adviser to the Prime Minister working in the PMO was made aware of concerns about General Vance — three years ago.

Mathyssen says it’s hard for Canadians to believe the Prime Minister’s claim that he didn’t know anything about these allegations. She points out that, for many women who report harassment or violence, powerful men failing to take the necessary action to keep them safe is a sadly familiar story.

“Women deserve to know that they will be supported when they come forward after experiencing harassment or violence in their workplace. How can they trust their reports will be taken seriously now? Stories of harassment and abuse in this government only seem to concern the Prime Minister when he reads them in the newspaper,” added Mathyssen. “Over and over again, we’re seeing this government try to bury stories of harassment and abusive behaviour. By letting his team bury the allegations to protect his government, the Prime Minister reinforced the culture of silence. How can women in the armed forces be confident to come forward after that?”