Canadian government, military to issue joint apology to victims of sexual misconduct on Dec. 13
OTTAWA -- Defence Minister Anita Anand, deputy minister Jody Thomas, and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre will issue a formal apology to victims of military sexual misconduct on Dec. 13.
A press released issued Monday evening states that the apology will take place virtually at 1 p.m. EST and will be livestreamed on the Canadian Armed Forces' Facebook page.
“As part of our efforts to restore relationships with those harmed, we will offer a public apology to all current and former members of the Defence Team who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual misconduct, including harassment, and discrimination, “ the release states.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) first made the promise to apologize to victims a year ago. At the time details were still being ironed out, and it wasn’t clear if then-outgoing defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance would lead it.
Vance has since been at the heart of military police investigations after allegations of misconduct levied against him surfaced at the beginning of 2021.
The call for an apology stems from a 2019 class action lawsuit settlement agreement to compensate current or former CAF members and or Department of National Defence employees who experienced sexual misconduct while on the job.
Separate from the agreement, approved by the Federal Court, the plaintiffs in the case requested an apology from the chief of the defence staff as well as the deputy defence minister as soon as is reasonable, taking into consideration the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The period for individuals to submit a claim to receive money through the settlement expired on Nov. 24. In total, 18,829 claims were received and 5,065 were approved for initial payment or had already been paid out.
The press release acknowledges a “collective failure” to build a safe and inclusive workplace free from sexual assault and harassment or discrimination.
“We know there is much more work to do to create lasting and positive culture change, and we will continue to listen to and learn from those affected to ensure we are taking the necessary action to make that change,” it reads.