Ombudsman Clarifies Role Regarding External Review on Sexual Assault and Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

7 November 2014

Mme. Marie Deschamps
External Review
Department of National Defence
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, on K1A 0K2

Re: External Review on Sexual Assault and Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your letter of 4 November 2014 requesting another occasion to discuss your review with me. 

During our meeting of 22 July 2014, we discussed our respective mandates, particularly that the DND-CF Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over matters of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. In fact, it was noted at that meeting that any matter of this nature brought to the attention of this Office is referred to the proper authorities, i.e. the Military Police in the case of an assault or the Military Police Complaints Commission in the case of a complaint regarding how the Military Police handled a file.

While this Office has no authority to address matters of a criminal nature, we do receive complaints of harassment, including sexual harassment. In these cases, our primary role is to act as a source of information and referral to assist individuals in accessing existing channels of assistance and redress within the DND and CAF. Furthermore, this Office cannot share the particulars of any complaint without the express consent of the individual complainant. Our mandate is clear with respect to the confidentiality with which this Office must treat the personal information of our constituents.

Given your previous appointments to the judiciary as well as your current contract to conduct an arms-length external review, I know that you appreciate the independent nature of my role as Ombudsman as well as my reporting line to the Minister of National Defence. In the absence of any factual evidence that I can share with you and/or a formal role in the process, this Office must refrain from comment or conjecture on matters under your review. It is critical that any future observations I might have on the findings of the External Review on Sexual Assault and Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces or on related matters be seen as credible and independent.

I wish to reiterate that this Office does not possess any information that might have a bearing on the matters covered by your review. In closing, I recognize the important endeavour that you have undertaken and would like to extend my best wishes in the conclusion of your review. 


Gary Walbourne
DND/CF Ombudsman

c.c. The Honourable Robert Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P
Minister of National Defence

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