You’d think that in this day and age the media in Canada would show some interest in the topic of child sexual abuse that occurred on military bases in Canada.
Sadly, this isn’t the case.
You would think that with damning reports like the one released by Madame Marie Deschamps which found that the military police lacked the experience and training to properly conduct sexual assault investigations, or the report released by former Provost Marshal Colonel Tim Grubb which found a “disturbingly higher rate of sexual crimes against children in the defence community”, or even the findings of the Somalia Inquiry which found that the military police and the military justice system prior to 1998 was easily manipulated by the chain of command, would cause the media to question the Canadian Forces as to who the hell is protecting the children living on military bases in Canada.
Nothing but crickets from the media pool.
The media places and extremely high bar on the evidence required before they’ll even consider looking into how the Canadian Armed Forces dealt with sexually abused children.
The media only showed an interest in Stephanie Raymonde because she was able to seek redress from the Chief of Defence Staff. The Chief of Defence Staff has a legal and binding obligation to investigate when a service member requests redress. The Chief of Defence Staff is not legally responsible for military dependants, much like the Chief of Defence Staff is not legally responsible for children involved in the various cadet programs in Canada. Which is why the cadets from the grenade explosion at CFB Valcartier in 1974 had to wait until 2011 for an apology (but no compensation).
This is one of the reasons why you have probably never heard of any type of action by a former military dependant against the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence, and the Chief of Defence Staff. None of those entities are legally responsible for military dependants.
If your abuser was subject to the Code of Service Discipline at the time they abused you, you wouldn’t legally be able to sue them. You would have to sue the Minister of National Defence as DND is legally required to defend its employees. Hence why P.S. sued the Minister of National Defence in addition to Angus Alexander McRae. And this is why the Canadian Forces Director of Civil Claims and Litigation settled with P.S. in November of 2008.
Another complication for a former military dependant to sue the Minister of National Defence is the 6 year legal time limit on bringing civil actions against government agencies. The Crown Liabilities and Proceedings Act says that you cannot sue the Federal Government more than six years after you became aware of a compensable damage.
I also think the reluctance to cover difficult stories such as child sexual abuse in the Canadian Forces has a lot to do with media consolidation and a massive dumbing down of the various newsrooms.
Media consolidation hurts, not through budget cuts or efficiencies. Media consolidation hurts because news reporters have to get permission from the same managing editors no matter which newsroom they work out of.
A reporter from Ottawa has to basically ask the same pool of managing editors as a reporter from Edmonton, or Halifax.
So, if one reporter gets told no, they all get told no.
Viewers today want simple stories that can be understood in a 30 second segment. And editors want simple stories that will get them the most amount of viewers with the least amount of effort.
Explaining to the typical viewer that children lived on the military bases in Canada in housing provided by the Department of National Defence would take far too much effort. This is even more so true when the reporters themselves have a very limited knowledge of what life was like on a military base and these reporters in turn base their opinions on what they imagine life must have been like on a military base. TV shows like “Major Dad” also greatly skew the realities of life on a Defence Establishment.
Explaining to the typical viewer that sometimes bad people made it into the military (Sgt. Alexander Edward Kalichuk, Angus Alexander McRae, Donald Joseph Sullivan, Colonel Russell Williams to name a few) is apparently far too hard for the news media.
Explaining to the typical view that the military “justice” system is more concerned about “discipline” than it is about making things right for the victim is not something that the media is interested in.
Explaining to the typical viewer how the military “justice” system was very easily manipulated by the chain of command prior to 1998 and that commanding officers and base commanders were known to move problem service personnel off to another base to become someone else’s problem would take a lot of effort to overcome the skepticism and disbelief.
Explaining to the typical viewer that just like in the civilian world, there were dysfunctional families living on these bases. But unlike in the civilian world, these families were often isolated from local agencies that could assist, and the serving member of the dysfunctional family was able to use the Canadian Forces to move out of the jurisdiction they lived in when civilian social services started to get involved is not something that the Canadian media is interested in.
The military housing communities on base were nothing more than glorified company towns. Most companies started getting out of the business of providing homes and communities for their employees when they realized that they were legally responsible for all of the social problems occurring in their company town. DND and the Canadian Forces kept the company town idea running way past its expiry date solely because up until the late ’80s, military pay was far too low to attract and keep personnel. Hence the advent of the PMQ patch and the heavily subsidized housing that came with it.
With the pay increases of the late ’80s, the government started to encourage military members to start “living in the economy”. The number of PMQs that exist today pales in comparison to the number of PMQs that existed in the mid to late 80s.
The Canadian media likes myths. Such as military communities were very safe communities to raise children and that nothing bad ever happened on base.
Let’s face it. The Canadian Government, the Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Armed Forces spend a lot of advertising dollars for in the media, and with ever shrinking profit margins, the media may be willing to forgo breaking an important news story if it means not jeopardizing their income.
And no, DND and the Canadian Forces are not above using intimidation to try and deep six embarrassing stories. I know of one reporter who was threatened by the Canadian Forces that if he didn’t back off with his coverage of the Afghanistan boy sex scandal, that DND and the CF would ensure that he didn’t receive any media releases from DND and the CF. This would all but ensure that he would always be one step behind his compatriots in the publishing business. Not a good situation to be in in a “dog-eat-dog” world.
On Wednesday February 19th, 2020 I’ll find out for sure if the most recent reporter that I shared personal information with has any intention on following through with what they promised me last August.
The really sad thing about being jerked around by all of these reporters is that I’ve made contact with other military dependants who were sexually abused, not just at CFB Namao, but on many of the other bases in Canada. It takes so much courage for these people to talk to the media. And every time I get these people to contact to the media, the media pisses all over them. And because of this I’m quickly running out of other victims willing to come forward.
When I post my blog entries to some of the base brat groups, I get torn a new asshole pretty damn quick. I’ve even had some of the groups delete my posts because some of the other brats have made it clear that they want to groups to be all about the “happy times”. So the admins usually give in and the groups end up becoming echo chambers that drown out those of us that didn’t have happy times on base.
And that further drives more of the abused brats underground and away from ever coming forward with their stories.
I’ve been accused of pissing on the graves of dead soldiers.
I’ve been accused of disrespecting retired veterans.
And so it’s very, very easy to see how brats that were sexually abused on the bases, or even physically abused on the bases, or those who came from neglectful dysfunctional homes, just want to stay quiet and keep their pains buried deep inside.
They’ve bought into the constant refrain from DND and the CF that nobody cares about your problems.
The media could ease the pain and suffering that a lot of former military dependants endure in silence by bringing these topics into the light of day.
But the media, with its silence, would rather be complicit in helping the Department of National Defence avoid scrutiny by ignoring these important stories.
And really, it wouldn’t take much for the media to run with this story. A couple of episodes on a news program. Don’t talk about specific cases. Just mention the flaws that existed in the National Defence Act prior to 1998. Mention some of the cases that are already public knowledge. Then ask for more victims to come forward and tell their stories.
I recently recevied the paperwork for the entire CFNIS investigation GO 2011-5754. I know now that when the CFNIS ran the Crime Stoppers appeal in 2017 for more victims to come forward that one person in particular did come forward. I thought that this person had called Sgt. Tenaschuk because I had mentioned his name to Sgt. Tenaschuk. That’s not what happened. This person called because they saw the crime stoppers appeal.
And the CFNIS only ran this appeal for a very limited time. And I have the paperwork from when they were putting the appeal together and getting permission from up and down the chain of command. They kept the appeal intentionally limited to the babysitter and nothing else. They didn’t want to mention Captain Father Angus McRae at all. I think they knew that if they mentioned anything about Captain McRae they would have opened the flood gates.
Once the tsunami is unleashed, there’s no stopping it.
But as long as the media stays afraid of offending the DND and the CF both agencies have nothing to worry about.