OTTAWA – Federal lawyers' arguments in a class-action sexual misconduct lawsuit against the Canadian Forces do "not align" with his, or his Liberal government's beliefs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, CTV News reported that the federal government was trying to quash a class-action lawsuit that alleges rampant sexual misconduct and gender discrimination within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Plaintiffs in the case allege systemic sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination.
Trudeau said he has asked Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to follow up with the lawyers, "to make sure that we argue things that are consistent with this government's philosophy," Trudeau said Wednesday on Parliament Hill, responding to the exclusive report.
The federal government argued in court filings that it does not "owe a private law duty of care to individual members within the CAF to provide a safe and harassment-free work environment, or to create policies to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault."
Veteran Amy Graham, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, told CTV News that the Liberal government’s attempts to stop the lawsuit was contradictory to Trudeau’s public support for victims of sexual misconduct.
The military has made extensive efforts to stamp out sexual misconduct. Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said last April that he planned to remove any military members found guilty of sexual misconduct. In 2017, more than two dozen service members were kicked out.
Conservative MP and former veterans affairs minister Erin O’Toole said he’s glad that Trudeau said the government will reconsider their approach, as he thinks it is sending the wrong signal.
"I think the government is setting [a] very poor example especially at a time when we want to support people coming forward," said O’Toole.
"At the end of the day, the prime minister is responsible for all the actions of this government," he said.
With a report from CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson in Ottawa
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