Maj. Gen. Peter Dawe, who wrote a positive reference letter for a sex offender, will no longer be responsible for working on the military’s response to the external sexual misconduct reviews.
In a statement late on Tuesday, Lt.-Gen Frances Allen, vice-chief of the defence staff, said following a discussion with members of the survivor community, Dawe “will be undertaking the important task of engaging with that community to better understand how he can contribute to meaningful culture change”.
In early May, Dawe was directed to leave his post “immediately”, following reports he wrote a character reference for another service member who had been convicted of six criminal counts, including sexual assault.
A source confirmed the news first reported by the Ottawa Citizen that Dawe was back at work — and directly working with the material from multiple sexual misconduct reviews.
Allen apologized for not being transparent about Dawe’s return, recognizing “the harm this has caused”.
“Many, including Canadian Armed Forces members, victims, survivors, and stakeholders were informed of Major-General Dawe’s return to the workplace through the media,” she said in the statement.
“This is not in keeping with our commitment to transparency. The release of this news should have been handled by us with greater care and consideration.”
The reviews in question include a June report from former Supreme Court justice Morris Fish, which found that sexual misconduct remains as “rampant” and “destructive” in 2021 as it was in 2015, and another from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.
The Canadian military is in the grips of an institutional crisis over its handling of sexual misconduct and, in particular, the conduct of its senior leaders — some of whom now face allegations of misconduct.
On Feb. 2, the issue burst into the spotlight after Global News reported on allegations against now-retired Gen. Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff. Vance has denied the allegations.
In the weeks that followed, military police have opened investigations into Vance as well as Adm. Art McDonald, Vance’s successor as chief of defence staff. Vance was subsequently charged with one count of obstruction of justice on July 15.
Multiple women have also spoken out publicly, sharing allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.
The allegations also led to the launch of two studies by parliamentary committees.
— with files from Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson, Rachel Gilmore