Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance speaks at a Canadian Special Operations Forces Command change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says he takes cold comfort from the fact the number of military sexual assaults reported to authorities skyrocketed last year, after one of his officers suggested the increase represented a sign of progress in the fight against such behaviour. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Canada’s top general is taking no comfort from the fact the number of sexual assaults reported to military authorities more than doubled last year, after suggestions the increase represented a sign of progress in the fight against such behaviour.

The Canadian Press reported last week that military authorities received 111 reports of sexual assault between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018 — over twice the 47 such reports received the previous year.

The head of the military’s sexual misconduct response team suggested recently that the increase was good news as it indicated service members felt more comfortable reporting incidents, not that there had been an actual rise in such crimes.

But even if military personnel feel more at ease reporting sexual misconduct than before, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says he is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct.

The military has not provided a breakdown on when the alleged sexual assaults actually occurred, but three-quarters of the 427 reports of criminal and non-criminal behaviour received last year actually took place in 2017 — which averaged about 25 per month.

“I am in no way at all happy that incidents continue and I find it hard to find any satisfaction whatsoever in the fact that there’s more reporting showing that there’s still more incidents,” Vance said in an interview.

“It is good that there’s reporting. It is not good that there’s still something to report.”

READ MORE: Former B.C. naval officer charged with sexual assault

Vance’s first action after being named chief of defence staff in July 2015 was launching Operation Honour, intended to effectively ban sexual misconduct within the ranks.

The move followed rampant concerns that the military was turning a blind eye to such behaviour and an explosive study by retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps that found an “underlying sexual culture” that was hostile to women and left victims to fend for themselves.

While Vance said Operation Honour has had an impact, he acknowledged that more needs to be done in terms of understanding what the numbers actually mean, as well as more training to prevent incidents and provide better support to victims.

One such effort will include providing victims with case workers through the military’s arm’s-length Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which was originally set up as a call centre but whose mandate is set to expand in the coming months.

“We haven’t been doing all the right things yet,” Vance said.

“We’re working on it, but we’ve got to increase our arsenal of things to do to try and support victims and to try to correct behaviour before it happens.”

Vance’s comments come as the military prepares for the release of a federal auditor general’s report next month on the Forces’ efforts to tackle sexual misconduct in the ranks.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

More B.C. ambulance service needed in the North: Hospital chief of staff

Fort St. James physicians talk about the need for easier access to healthcare

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Terrace resident’s bill banning single-use plastics introduced in Ottawa

MP Nathan Cullen’s presented Ben Korving’s private member’s bill Wednesday

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read