POLITICS

Tom Mulcair 'very concerned' over general's orders on sexual misconduct report

05/13/2015 01:02 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT
Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair said he's "very concerned" by revelations that Canada's top general ordered military brass to plan to ignore key recommendations from a report into sexual misconduct in the military.

But Mulcair also suggested the attitude is in line with the "disgraceful" behaviour of the Conservative government, which he accused of rejecting eight of the recommendations in the external review.

CBC News obtained orders written by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson that show, in the case of at least three recommendations, military brass were told to plan to effectively ignore the advice of former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps. One of those recommendations included the creation of an independent centre to take complaints and provide support and expertise.

"I'm very concerned about Gen. Lawson's attitude towards Justice Deschamps' report," Mulcair, speaking in French, told reporters. "She made 10 very clear recommendations. [Defence Minister] Jason Kenney, as you know, rejected eight of them, which I think is disgraceful "

"And I think even in the note from Gen. Lawson, he says they won't change anything, and that was before the report was made public. He was already ensuring that it would be business as usual. So I think the military has an obligation to follow the recommendations made by Justice Deschamps."

"Now, either the military has to evolve or something has to happen," Mulcair said. "But they had decided that, whatever was in the report, they would continue to do the same thing as usual."

Deschamps made 10 recommendations in her report. Lawson accepted two outright and eight "in principle." Mulcair has repeatedly accused the government of ignoring those eight recommendations, something Kenney denies.

A statement from Kenney's office today said Lawson has "accepted the recommendations from the Deschamps report and is acting on them."

It added that Maj.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, the general appointed by Lawson to lead the military's response team, "was clear that she feels no limitations in her work.

"The Canadian Armed Forces are looking at how to best implement all 10 of the report's recommendations and the minister supports this effort," the statement says.

Deschamps' report found the Canadian Forces possessed a misogynistic and sexualized culture in which harassment and abuse are overlooked, under-reported and poorly understood.

"As you know, Mr. Kenney only has accepted two of the 10 recommendations so the problem is with the government," Mulcair said. "Because, until things change, the military comes under the purview of the government."