(*EDITOR’S NOTE: On Nov. 4, 2016, the charges against Lt.-Col. Mason Stalker were dropped by the Alberta Crown.)
WATCH: There are more allegations of sexual assault within the Canadian Forces. Edmonton-based Lt.-Col. Mason Stalker, a senior member of the Forces, is charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation involving cadets. Those are all young people he mentored while a member of the local army cadet group. Jacques Bourbeau reports.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mason Stalker, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, has been charged with several counts of sexual assault and other offences.
According to a press release from the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service has charged Stalker, 40, with a total of 10 sex-related offences. These include:
- Three counts of sexual assault
- Four counts of sexual exploitation
- One count of sexual interference
- One count of invitation to sexual touching
- One count of breach of trust by a public officer
The offences are alleged to have occurred from 1998 to 2007 in Edmonton, while Stalker was involved as a mentor with a local army cadet corps.
“A victim came forward to us in April of this year,” said Francis Bolduc, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service. “He came forward with information and we initiated an investigation that resulted in charges.”
“These are serious and significant charges under the Criminal Code of Canada,” said Bolduc,
“Regardless of a member’s rank and role in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service works diligently and independently from the Canadian Armed Forces chain of command to protect individuals from those who violate the law.”
Stalker has been suspended from his command assignment until the matter is dealt with in court.
“As stated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, these are serious charges under the Criminal Code of Canada,” said General Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, in a statement. “However, I cannot comment on this specific case, given all Canadians should be afforded due process.
“We must allow the judicial process to unfold.”
Stalker has had a notable career with the Canadian Forces. He recently led the Canadian military’s firefighting efforts in northern Saskatchewan. He also received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General in 2012 in recognition of his performance in Afghanistan. “Lieutenant-Colonel Stalker’s performance was of a high standard and brought honour to the Canadian Forces and to Canada,” reads a citation on the Governor General’s website.
Federal NDP Defence Critic Jack Harris called the charges “terribly concerning.”
“It’s a reminder too that it’s not just women who are victims of sexual assault or harassment in the military… We have to have some confidence that this is going to end.
“I know General Vance has said that this must end,” added Harris. “Saying it and ending it are two different things.
“They’ve always had a so-called zero tolerance policy about sexual harassment.”
“There’s got to be something more than that,” Harris said.
Officials are asking anyone with information to contact the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service Western Region tip line at: 1-877-233-6066.
“We don’t have any information for other victims at this point,” said Bolduc.
Stalker is scheduled to appear in court on August 20 in Edmonton.