Chief of Defence Staff calls Maclean's cover story 'disturbing'

Defence chief orders investigation into sexual assault reports

‘The article published today is disturbing,’ Tom Lawson says of cover stories in Maclean’s and L’actualité


Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff has ordered a review of the military programs, policies and leadership in the wake of Maclean’s and L’actualité‘s cover stories that report that every day five individuals in the Canadian military are victims of sexual assault.

“The article published today is disturbing,” Gen. Tom Lawson said Thursday evening. “Sexual assault is a crime. It is an abhorrent and corrosive act that goes against the entirety of our military ethos. I do not accept from any quarter that this is merely a part of military culture; it is not.”


Lawson said he will protect complainants from reprisal as the Canadian Armed Forces pursues the allegations. He is also considering an external review.

During an eight-month investigation, L’actualité reporters Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay visited bases across Canada and Afghanistan, spoke with dozens of victims, attended court martials, and scoured through statistics and documents through Access to Information requests. In 1998, Maclean’s cover story “Rape in the Military” was one of four covers published that year as part of a nine-month investigation.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson also responded to the article on Thursday saying he has asked the Chief of Defence staff to investigate. “I was deeply angered to learn of these alleged sexual assaults in the military,” Nicholson said. “Sexual misconduct of all kinds will not be tolerated within the Canadian Armed Forces.”

The special investigation is available now on newsstands and in the Maclean’s iPad edition. The story will be published on early next week.