Thank you, Karen.
Good morning, members of the committee and distinguished guests. Thank you very much for inviting me to provide testimony today on this very important issue pertaining to the treatment of women within the Department of National Defence.
I have been practising employment law for over 20 years and have authored a textbook on the subject. One of my specialty areas is in fact employment law and workplace harassment and sexual harassment. It is through this that I have met the distinguished hero here beside me, Laura Nash, whom I have been proud to represent for the last four years.
Ms. Nash chose to dedicate her career to serving our country. In return, within the CAF, Ms. Nash faced a culture of discrimination and harassment on the basis of her sex, marital and family status that was so pronounced it not only caused her to attempt to take her own life, but has now left her in dire economic, social and physical circumstances.
Ms. Nash joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2010 and was stationed at Naval Officers Training Centre Venture at CFB Esquimalt. That same year, she became pregnant with her son, Ronin, and found herself to be a single parent. Because of her pregnancy, Ms. Nash was immediately removed from the naval environmental training program. She was also denied the opportunity to take the two alternative courses she had applied for because of her removal from the program.
Due to the demands of her military training, the lack of accommodation offered to single parents by the CAF and struggling to afford child care for an infant on a junior officer's salary, Ms. Nash made the heartbreaking decision to send her one-year-old son to live with her parents in Ontario and return to sea.