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

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

That's not the question.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

The question is this. Is that okay? Is it okay to simply say that men and women experience things differently?

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

I've talked to both men and women from the Canadian Armed Forces who were sexually exploited, and in some cases, it was easier.... It's easier for me to come forward and say, “I experienced sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces,” than it is for one of my male colleagues or one of my male friends who experienced the same thing, because there are different types of social cues, or it would be viewed as being less manly. For instance, why weren't they able to protect themselves? There's that issue, too.

There are a lot of societal issues, and sexual assault and sexual exploitation happen within the social structure.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Okay, go ahead, Rachel.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

In order to assist us with our recommendations, could you let us know when...? You mentioned that you were allowed legal representation in some procedural instances and not in others.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

It's not that I'm not allowed them. It's that I have to come up with the resources to pay for them on my own—

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Okay.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

—and I don't have that ability.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

So, in your opinion, victims should have lawyers paid for by—

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

Yes, and I believe that victims in the Canadian Armed Forces need their own lawyers. If you're going to go, you need to have your own lawyer. You need an advocate. You need someone to protect you when you're going through that system.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Absolutely. Thank you. That's very helpful.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Irene, you have the last question.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Again, thank you, Paula. Thank you so much.

This whole issue of your having to come up with the financial resources to pay for your own lawyer is very, very troubling, and I wonder about the impact on your financial security as a result.

What do you hope will come of the hearing at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal?

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Paula MacDonald

I hope that they will correct the damages and the harm that was done to me and they'll lift the discrimination. I hope that will happen. I can't afford legal representation. What I've done is I've tried to do it myself. It's hard. I have a background in human resource management. I had an HR degree and a Bachelor of Commerce before I went in. I have some MBA training.

I took a couple of legal courses before I went that would help me in terms of being able to do this. I don't think that a lot of people would be able to do it on their own because of what's required. I think that system needs to be looked at.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

On behalf of the committee, I'd really like to thank you for coming and sharing your story in detail. It will be very helpful for us as we're moving forward.

We are going to be suspending. You're allowed to have one assistant, and one member from each party is able to be here.

We will have to clear the room and we'll restart in three minutes.

We're going to suspend for three minutes.

[Proceedings continue in camera]