Military misconduct addressed

Maj.Gen. Christine Whitecross at CFB Comox for meetings with members

Maj.Gen. Christine Whitecross was at CFB Comox Thursday for a presentation on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Maj.Gen. Christine Whitecross was at CFB Comox Thursday for a presentation on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Acknowledging there “may be cases of (sexual misconduct) at CFB Comox,” 19 Wing Commander Col. Tom Dunne welcomed Canada’s highest-ranking woman and leader of a response team on a report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces to the base Thursday.

Maj.Gen. Christine Whitecross and her team were appointed to respond and study the report, which was created by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, who found sexual misconduct is “endemic” in the Canadian military.

Whitecross conducted two town hall-style meetings Thursday morning to members, and acknowledged afterwards in an interview there is inconsistency to how people are processing the report.

“A number of people are surprised by the report; a number of people find it difficult to understand how we got to that position, and on the other extreme there are a number of people who think the report is bang-on and are happy that it is being addressed.”

In the report, Deschamps made 10 recommendations, which Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson accepted two outright and eight in principal.

One of the recommendations is that the Canadian Armed Forces create an independent centre where victims can seek support and advice.

Last Wednesday, a CBC report noted Canada’s top general issued orders for the military to plan to ignore key recommendations, including the creation of the independent centre.

In response to the story, Lawson noted he has accepted the recommendation of a ‘Centre of Accountability ‘ – separate from the chain of command – in principal.

He added before the final report was received, he took a proactive measure to stand-up a dedicated team to examine the report and to develop an action plan to respond to it.

“These planning assumptions should in no way be viewed as restrictions or orders for (Whitecross) to ignore the recommendations of the final report. Any such suggestion is quite simply false,” he explained in a media release.

Whitecross said Thursday she has never received mixed messages and hopes they will not restrict a member’s ability to speak out about any sexual misconduct.

“I want to make it very clear that I’ve never had a mixed message. The direction I got from the leadership at the Canadian Armed Forces – chief of the defence staff – has been constant since he appointed me,” she explained.

“We’ve always been very open to the mandate which has been to address all 10 recommendations from Madame Deschamps and to bring them forward. That’s never changed.”

Whitecross said through town halls, discussions and conversations, behaviour change in the short term will lead to long-term cultural change in the Canadian Forces.

Socially, she noted, there’s an imperative to treat everybody with dignity and respect, but as military members, it’s important to instil the cohesion amongst members that will yield operational success and excellence.

“We can only do that when people feel comfortable being at work and actually working with their colleagues.”

Dunne explained when creating her report, Deschamps did have the opportunity to visit the base and speak to members, as her mandate was to speak anonymously to several air force, army and navy bases.

While he acknowledged it’s not quantified or aggregated in any way, her report shows there were problems identified.

“As the local commander of the base, I am not aware of specific incidents that are not being looked after but all I can do is accept the fact that Madame Deschamps did speak to people who had concerns across the country, and I would extrapolate from that there may be cases of it here.”

He added he will take every case seriously and will help victims in any way through the chain of command.

With the first report due in the fall, Whitecross hopes to have tangible action plans and even measurements in all of the action items.

“I can’t really say how long it will take us. Culture change takes months and years; behaviour change as well. As we’re moving forward, we’re hoping that by the fall we’ll actually be able to give an indication of where we are and where we’re going.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
SD71 to address COVID-19 exposures with virtual town hall

The meeting is set for Thursday, March 4

Courtenay Elementary is the latest school on a growing list that has COVID-19 exposures. Google Maps photo
Courtenay Elementary latest school on growing list of COVID-19 exposures

Exposure dates at the school on McPhee Avenue are Feb. 22, 23 and 24

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Tofino Resort and Marina has temporarily shut down after several staff members tested positive for COVID-19. (Nora O’Malley photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at Tofino Resort and Marina

Resort apologizes to Hesquiaht First Nation for Valentine’s Day boating incident.

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read