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Trudeau condemns threats against ‘anyone’ reporting allegations of harassment

Click to play video: 'Trudeau condemns threats against ‘anyone’ reporting allegations of harassment' Trudeau condemns threats against ‘anyone’ reporting allegations of harassment
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he condemns “in the strongest terms” intimidation or threats being directed at “anyone” stepping forward with allegations of harassment or assault – whether it be within the military or elsewhere. – Mar 9, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he condemns in “the strongest terms” intimidation or threats being directed at anyone stepping forward with allegations of harassment or assault – whether it be within the military or elsewhere.

Read more: Senior naval officer was threatened after reporting McDonald allegation, sources say

His comments come after Global News reported that a senior naval officer who stepped up to inform the defence minister’s office of an allegation of sexual misconduct against Adm. Art McDonald in February was redirected and told to report the concern elsewhere.

Sources also told Global News the officer received anonymous telephone threats warning that his career could be in jeopardy.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that anyone who would come forward to share allegations or preoccupations around incidents of harassment or assault in our military or anywhere else be faced with intimidation themselves or threats,” Trudeau said, speaking to reporters during a Tuesday press conference in Ottawa.

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“That is something that I condemn in the strongest terms. Everyone needs to feel comfortable in being able to come forward with concerns or allegations.”

Click to play video: 'Defence committee assures senior naval officer can testify after receiving threats' Defence committee assures senior naval officer can testify after receiving threats
Defence committee assures senior naval officer can testify after receiving threats – Mar 8, 2021

A source with direct knowledge of the matter says Lt.-Cmdr. Raymond Trotter, a 21-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, was approached by a female subordinate on Feb. 3 after exclusive reporting by Global News the previous day.

Read more: Privy Council Office was warned to ‘put some things in writing’ after 2018 Vance complaint

That reporting detailed two allegations of inappropriate behaviour against former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and sparked a military police investigation as well as an as-yet unfulfilled promise by McDonald for an independent review.

Vance denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

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Trudeau doubles down on handling of 2018 Vance allegation – Mar 5, 2021

The source who spoke with Global News said the complainant shared details with Trotter of sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred while McDonald was a navy captain. McDonald took command of the Canadian military on Jan. 14.

Global News reached out to McDonald asking whether he is aware of any threats against Trotter, whether he would condemn any attempts to threaten or intimidate those involved in his case, and for him to verify the timing of the alleged incident at the heart of the complaint.

“As there is an ongoing investigation, and on the advice of legal counsel, I am not making any statement at this time,” McDonald told Global News in an email.

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Sajjan refutes claim by former military ombudsman, says he looks ‘forward to setting the record straight’ – Mar 8, 2021

Speaking on Tuesday, Trudeau pledged to move forward on measures to ensure that the mechanisms are in place to allow victims to report – and pursue – allegations of misconduct.

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“There need to be the resources and supports there to make sure they are heard, and that those allegations are followed up on, respecting the wish of those people who come forward,” Trudeau said.

He added that it is “extremely important” that working Canadians, “particularly” those working for the government or serving in the armed forces, be “supported and listened to.”

“We will continue to move forward on measures to ensure that we are not only giving those supports to people who come forward, but also ensuring that we’re putting in place independent mechanisms to put an end to these troubling allegations and this behaviour once and for all,” Trudeau said.

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O’Toole says he has ‘great respect’ for Lt.-Gen. Allen, comments on government’s response to Vance allegations – Mar 9, 2021

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called for a freeze on all promotions and salary increases for those serving in the general and flag ranks of the military. He also called for an immediate independent investigation.

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“An institution that is very important to Canada, a historic institution for our country, there is eroding trust in it right now and we have to save it,” O’Toole said of the allegations that have left the Canadian military reeling.

“We have to show swift and serious action for the men and women wearing uniform, particularly the women wearing uniform, (we) need to see that their voices will be heard… and so far, I’ve seen the Liberals more worried about avoiding responsibility than showing that our Canadian armed forces needs to be an institution that is preserved and respected.”

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Defence committee expands military misconduct investigation – Mar 8, 2021

The House of Commons defence committee has been probing the allegations against Vance, as well as the broader crisis of allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.

And as the opposition continues to push for answers, Trudeau said the government is going to step up its efforts to make sure people feel safe at work. Speaking on Tuesday, the prime minister said it has become “apparent” that past efforts to address workplace harassment “didn’t go far enough, and they haven’t moved fast enough.”

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“That is my commitment: that we will be moving faster and going further to make sure that anyone who serves their country, or works for the government, or, ideally, works anywhere in Canada has a safe workplace and recourse if they are unsafe,” Trudeau said.

With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly

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