Chief of Defence Staff orders acceptance of sex assault panel recommendations
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks during a Canadian Armed Forces press conference at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2017 4:04PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Canada's top soldier accepted an internal report Tuesday that condemned the military for failing a former master corporal whose case spawned a crackdown on sexual misconduct in the military.
In ordering full acceptance of the internal inquiry's findings, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance also thanked Stephanie Raymond "for having the courage and tenacity to identify a series of failures by her chain of command" after she reported that she had been sexually assaulted.
"Through a comprehensive action plan stemming from the (inquiry's) recommendations, I have ordered the vice chief of the defence staff, the commander Canadian Army and the commander of Military Personnel Command to implement the recommendations as soon as possible," Vance said in a statement.
In 2012, Raymond accused Warrant Officer Andre Gagnon of sexually assaulting her in 2011.
Gagnon was later acquitted by a military jury, but Raymond continued fighting the military, alleging that she was retaliated against as a result of the complaint. The battle resulted in Raymond's discharge from the Forces at the end of 2013.
The board of inquiry was convened in 2015 after former chief of defence staff Gen. Tom Lawson admitted that Raymond had been treated badly by higher-ranking officers in her regiment and that she had been wrongly fired.
Vance noted that many of the inquiry's recommendations have been implemented through the military's efforts to stamp out inappropriate sexual behaviour, but ordered that all outstanding recommendations from the inquiry report be enacted as quickly as possible.
He also acknowledged that Raymond's case was a catalyst for the current campaign to crack down on sexual misconduct in the military.
"Because of the concerns she raised, we are now better aware of how tremendous an impact harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour has on our people and we are taking decisive steps to ensure this type of situation does not reoccur, said Vance.
"Her case is one of the reasons why Operation Honour exists and why I'm so dedicated to its purpose."
Col. Josee Robidoux, who commands the 35 Canadian Brigade Group, briefed Raymond on the report, which has not been publicly released.
A DND statement said the report was critical of the military for how it treated Raymond, in particular through a failure to apply basic leadership principles in dealing with her harassment complaint, as well as a lack of communication with her throughout the process and the absence of follow-up to ensure her well-being.