Evidence of meeting #142 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was military.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paula MacDonald  As an Individual

9:40 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

Yes. The whole idea that you're going to create toughness by acting the way that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces are acting is not going to work out, because you're going to have a lot of injuries, and a lot of things where you're going to end up killing people before they even get over to Afghanistan. You can see that happening where you have the seven suicides that happened in the training.

Also, if you guys were to investigate how many injuries you're having in the training.... On the idea of creating toughness or being able to create people who can cope in adverse situations, you have to be able to do it at increasing levels, and you have to do it from a strength perspective as opposed to trying to—

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Humiliate....

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

Yes, humiliate and beat people up: that's not going to work.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

You see the difference.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

I see the difference. I see it where they.... In the Canadian Armed Forces, in the training, they had policies and procedures that were put in place to try to protect against injuries, but the leadership just wasn't following them. An example would be that you're only allowed to strap 40% of your body weight onto your body whenever you're participating in military exercises. They didn't follow that procedure, and they had a lot of fractures in the pelvis.

If you do this to your young people, where you're giving them these injuries that are going to follow them the rest of their lives, then you're not building up strong people or building up an army. You're creating a health and safety crisis in one of your organizations.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent.

Irene, you have the floor for three minutes.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

You touched very eloquently on one of the things that we've heard in Veterans Affairs, and that is that when you join, your personality and your resilience are destroyed to make you somehow tougher. It means that in coming back to civil society, there is this inability to relate to the norms of society.

The decision or the suggestion at that time—and this would have been at the same time that Madam Deschamps was writing—was to take a different approach. You have outlined that approach succinctly and I think very well.

I do have one question. You referenced “It's Just 700”, and there may be folks here who are not familiar with that organization, so I wonder if you could describe it and explain what “It's Just 700” does.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

It's an online group that was formed by Marie-Claude Gagnon. It is a group that's a safe place for people who have experienced the hostile sexualized culture to go to and to get peer support from. It's where people understand what happened—or they have some sort of an understanding of what happened—and what the social structure was like in the Canadian Armed Forces. They can receive support there. It's a safe place for victims, and there aren't that many.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Yes, and it's interesting. I have something written by Marie-Claude here, and she talks about being sexually assaulted, asking for help and being directed to the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre phone line, but it had been discontinued. Has that resource been put in place again? Is it effective?

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

My experience is that the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is there, but it functions very similarly to the ombudsman's office. You can call them up, and they'll do basic crisis intervention with you, but they're going to be directing you back into the chain of command. That has to stop because the chain of command has proven over the last four and a half years that it is not equipped to deal with this crisis.

What we need to do is move the responsibilities and bring in people who can assist them in terms of dealing with this crisis.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

Rachel has asked for one more question. Is there anyone over here who has another question to ask?

Okay, all the Rachels have another question, so we'll go Rachael, Rachel, and then, Irene, if you have another question. I want to keep it really succinct—so no preamble, but just the question.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Oh, we're going to start with me?

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Yes.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

I understand that you're in a really tough situation here, and clearly your experience has been very negative. You've been very courageous and very brave to come forward today with your testimony.

One of the things that you talked about was that it starts with the leadership and then works its way down in forming a culture. The Prime Minister of Canada has also been accused—

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

There was no preamble to the question.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Yes—

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Sorry, it's just that the context is quickly needed. I'll wrap it up in 30 seconds—

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Be very short.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

—or less.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Okay.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

The Prime Minister was accused of actually inappropriately groping a member of the media—

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Rachael.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

—so then he said this—

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Rachael, get to the question.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

He said that men and women experience things differently.