A former military member is speaking out after learning of the federal government’s bid to quash a class-action lawsuit brought against the Canadian military alleging sexual harassment, assault and discrimination.
Dawn McIlmoyle, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, says she was sexually assaulted while serving in 1992. She left the military in 1993. She has been vocal about her story, landing on the cover of a Maclean’s magazine investigation into sexual assault in the military.
She says she battled the Armed Forces ever since to get them to recognize the issue and provide resources for victims.
“Benign neglect. Which, you know, you can do something about a situation which would make it better, but you chose not to,” she said from her home in Peterborough, Ont.
“And I feel that is what the government and the military is doing.”
McIlmoyle is part of a class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian Military, one that alleges discrimination, assault and harassment is widespread among the military ranks. The case makes allegations that have yet to be proven in court.
But the federal government wants the suit tossed out of court, arguing that it does not owe a private law duty of care to provide a safe and harassment-free work environment, or to create policies to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault.
“I think the government is trying to squash it because they don’t want the stories to come out,” McIlmoyle said. “Because then society’s gonna know what it was really like in there.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on the issue on Wednesday morning.
“It is something that is of concern with me, and I’ve asked the Attorney General to follow up with the lawyers to make sure we argue things that are consistent with this government’s philosophy,” Trudeau said.
“Obviously what the lawyers have been arguing does not align with my beliefs or this government’s beliefs.”
As for McIlmoyle, she says she’s not looking for money.
“You have a duty of care to people. You’re vicariously liable for your employees,” she said. “So if your employees are hurting people, and you’re perpetuating that over and over again, how is that a safe work environment? How is that not misconduct?