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External report on sexual misconduct in military now with top soldier

General Tom Lawson, chief of the defence staff, has in his hands a long-awaited and highly anticipated review of sexual misconduct in his forces.
General Tom Lawson, chief of the defence staff, has in his hands a long-awaited and highly anticipated review of sexual misconduct in his forces. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada’s top soldier Gen. Tom Lawson has in his hands a long-awaited and highly anticipated review of sexual misconduct in his forces.

In an email to National Defence staff sent Monday, Lawson wrote that he received on Friday the English version of an external review into sexual misconduct in the military.

The review was conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps.

READ MORE:  Internal review of sexual misconduct in military says no to ‘significant overhaul’

“This is an important development and I would like to thank her for her insight and rigour in helping us understand the significance of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF,” Lawson wrote in the email obtained by Global News.

During her review, Deschamps met with hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces members across the country, Lawson told his staff.

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“Her perspective is invaluable in providing me with a clearer appreciation of the problem and what we, as an institution, must do to address it, he wrote.

READ MORE: Judge writing report on military sexual misconduct

In the email, the chief of defence staff highlighted the establishment of the military’s Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct, which he ordered last month but did not address whether the contents of the review would be made public — only that it will be shared with military members.

A military spokesman called Global News to commit to making the report public.

“I will publicly announce the action plan and make the full report available to all CAF members once a comprehensive review of the report is complete,” Lawson wrote. “Everyone in uniform will be required to support and engage in the measures directed once our review of the report is complete.”

Deschamps was tasked with conducting the review following published reports last spring in Maclean’s and L’actualite magazines, which claimed sexual assaults had reached epidemic levels in the military.

The stories contained interviews with several victims and examined a decade of statistics documenting reported attacks.

The reports said military police get as many as 200 complaints of sexual assault each year and many more cases go unreported by victims who fear the potential consequences.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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