November 15th, 2023
NDP introduces plan to help survivors of sexual misconduct
OTTAWA — Last Thursday, NDP critic for Veterans Affairs Rachel Blaney (North Island – Powell River) jointly seconded National Defence Lindsay Mathyssen (London – Fanshawe)’s two private member’s bills that would make much needed changes in the wake of multiple cases of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
These two bills would establish an independent Office of the Ombud that would report to Parliament rather than the Minster of National Defence and amend the National Defence Act to remove the military's jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute sexual offences under the criminal code. The tabling of these bills is necessary after sexual assault survivors continue to have trouble prosecuting their cases through the civilian courts.
“Men and women who serve in the military deserve support and justice. For eight years, the Liberal government has promised to action on sexual misconduct and assault in the military, but they clearly lack the political will to follow through,” said Mathyssen. “My legislation would implement key recommendations to tackle sexual harassment and misconduct in the military from the Deschamps and Arbour reports that the Liberals have refused to act on.”
Despite instructing the military last December to undertake all of Justice Arbour’s recommendations on sexual harassment and misconduct in the military, the Liberals have not amended the National Defence Act to remove the military's jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute sexual offences under the criminal code. Without making this necessary change, victims of sexual assault in the military will continue to face a confusing criminal justice system.
“New Democrats stand with the courageous servicewomen of the Canadian Armed Forces and all those who have served who have faced sexual misconduct and assault in the military,” said Blaney. “I’m incredibly remorseful that anyone has had to deal with such a horrible experience. Please know that I will do everything I can to keep pushing this Government for action on this vital issue.”
While the Liberals refuse to help women in service, New Democrats can be counted on to push for the real change and needed legislation that Canadians have asked for.
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