April 13, 2021, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women met to further discuss the allegations surrounding sexual misconduct in the Canadian armed forces that had recently surfaced earlier this year.
The Canadian Arms Provost Marshal and Commander of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group, Simon Trudeau was among the first to speak. He has been in charge of conducting military investigations into matters such as these misconduct cases since 2018. Although Trudeau was not able to speak to current investigations taking place he was able to answer a variety of questions about procedure and the process in which an investigation becomes priority.
Leona Alleslev had a few things to say to the commander about the procedures, “It feels as though you want to leave the impression with us that everything is working out as it should; the system is effective. Those who have perpetrated sexual assault, sexual misconduct, abused authority are independently investigated, charged, and held accountable commensurate with the seriousness of the offense they’ve committed. But, we have the allegations surrounding General Vance, Admiral McDonald, Admiral Edmondson, the other victims who have come forth showing us that there is a pattern over a number of years where that… may not be the case. Can you confirm for us today that it’s your position that everything is working exactly as it should and that there is no accountability on your part that anything since May 2018, should have been done differently?”
Trudeau responded by saying, “I can’t speak to the whole system in place, but I can speak to what I know is the military police group. And from a perspective you’ve mentioned independence, I am functionally independent from the chain of command. So when we receive information and we investigate, we investigate independently from the chain of command. I do not report the details of active investigations to anyone.”
Alleslev attempted then to get answers surrounding the need for improvement to which the response was that there are already changes in motion. Trudeau also stated that there needs to be more knowledge surrounding the fact that himself and his team function independently from a higher chain of command.
Lindsay Mathyssen returned to the testimony of one of the victims, Stephanie Raymond, who had stated she had to go outside of the military to find any justice. She then asked how Trudeau could then better advise victims to be able to seek help outside of the military themselves.
His response was to simply refer back to procedure and policy. He claimed that victims are allowed to consult civilian law enforcement at any point and begin a separate investigation. However Trudeau’s answer did not include anything that himself or his team could do to support victims in taking this route. Even when prompted further he could not give a clear answer as to if he would ever advocate seeking outside help to a victim.