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)

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

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read