The federal government must make sweeping changes to the legal foundations of the military — including banning the practice of “pleading down” to lesser offences — in order to eliminate the culture of sexual misconduct that experts have repeatedly warned is endemic to the Canadian Forces.
That is the heart of the report issued on Thursday by the House of Common status of women committee, which has spent the last several months studying military sexual misconduct following exclusive reporting by Global News into allegations against senior military leaders.
The report issues 21 recommendations that take aim at the legal responsibilities and powers of the military and its leaders, and urge dramatic changes both to prevent accusations from being swept under the rug and to prevent those accused from pleading down to less serious code of service offences.
Most crucially, the report echoes the calls made by both the 2015 Deschamps report and the 2021 Fish report into military sexual misconduct and military justice in putting the spotlight on the pressing need for complaints to be handled outside of the military, rather than through the chain of command.
The Canadian military is facing what experts describe as an institutional “crisis” over its handling of sexual misconduct allegations, particularly those made against senior leaders in recent months.
— More to come.
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