Critics call on Lawson to step down over ‘biologically wired’ comment

WATCH: Canada’s top soldier is backtracking from comments he made about sexual harassment in the military. Vassy Kapelos reports.

Critics of Canadian Forces General Tom Lawson are calling on him to step down Wednesday after he said that some men in the military are “biologically wired” to force themselves on women during an interview.

The chief of the defence staff told Peter Mansbridge in an interview that aired Tuesday on CBC that sexual assault in the military is a “terrible issue” but “it’s because we’re biologically wired in a certain way.”

“There will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others. It’s not the way it should be.”

Lawson is stepping down from his role in September but Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray said that after his comments on CBC, he should resign immediately.

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“He essentially says this is just the way it works,” Murray said. “That is completely unacceptable.”

Lawson issued a statement shortly after the report aired, apologizing for his “awkward characterization.”

“My reference to biological attraction being a factor in sexual misconduct was by no means intended to excuse anyone from responsibility for their actions.”

But others saw it differently, berating the general for what they said amounted to a “boys will be boys” excuse for sexual assault.

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Lawson’s comments come the month after a stinging report on sexual assault within the ranks of the Canadian Forces portrayed a “culture of misogyny” that is hostile to women and the lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer community.

But not everyone was antagonistic. Others suggested that Lawson’s comments, taken in context, don’t excuse sexual assault.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said she was surprised by Lawson’s chosen “verbiage.”

“It’s not something that I agree with and it is not something [i] appreciate hearing in senior management,” she said.
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And Justine Minister Peter MacKay said Lawson feels badly about his choice of words.

WATCH: Conservative and Liberal MPs react to Tom Lawson’s comments

– With files from the Canadian Press

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