Base newspaper rejects ad seeking sex assault victims

CFB Esquimalt says ads did not meet the intent of the newspaper

When Rajinder Sahota had the idea to place an ad in CFB Esquimalt’s military newspaper encouarging victims of sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces to come forward, he thought it would be simple.

The ad from Sahota’s law firm, Acheson, Sweeney, Foley and Sahota, offered a “safe and supportive environment” for victims to tell their story and included a quote from Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, about sexual assault and harassment being a “real and present threat to our institution.”

The firm submitted the ad in December to run in CFB Esquimalt’s newspaper The Lookout, and didn’t think it would be difficult to get published — but it’s been anything but easy. After a number of intitial edits which Sahota called “subtle” and “cosmetic,” the ad has since been rejected by senior leadership at CFB Esquimalt.

According to Sahota, the purpose of the ad was to provide survivors of sexual assault, harassment, abuse or sexualized discriminiation with another avenue to come forward and speak to someone confidentially, if they feel uncomfortable reporting such incidents to their superiors.

“I anticipated it would be encouraged and seen as productive by the Department of National Defence given what top leaders were saying about the situtation, namely that they were aware of the problem and wanted to do everything that they could to change the culture within the forces that led to this and of course, one of the things that’s necessary in that process is to hear from the survivors of this type of behaviour,” Sahota said. “Clearly there’s no cultural change that’s occuring.”

Capt. Jennifer Jackson, public affairs officer for CFB Esquimalt, said the topic of the ad was not considered to be controversial, but did not meet the intent of the newspaper.

“The chain of command takes this issue extremely seriously, and continues to employ a variety of strategies and approaches to instill institutional change,” she said in an emailed statement, adding the newspaper is open to accepting ads from the firm that meet the newspaper’s policies.

In December, former sailor Nicola Peffers, who was based in CFB Esquimalt, launched a class action lawsuit against the armed forces, alleging sexual assault and harassment of female and LGBTQ members. Sahota’s firm set up a hotline for former members of the armed forces to report incidents of sexual assault or harassment. Since then more than 100 people have come forward alleging single incidents of sexual harassment to multiple sexual assaults with weapons spanning the length of a career.

In 2015 an independent review by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the military and tolerated by the highest levels of leadership. Shortly after, Canada’s top general Jonathan Vance launched Operation Honour, aimed at ending the problem.

But the decision to axe the ad has raised concerns for Sahota, who called it a “missed opportunity.”

“Instead, their decision was to, it appears, to censor the ad,” he said.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

Just Posted

New club started for miniature horses in Sooke

Small animals are ‘incredible pets’

Pipeline project protesters stage morning event outside CRA office

Intersection is also busy with ongoing construction activity, caution advised for drivers

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Saanich homeowner feels harassed over unsightly premises dispute

Staff recommending council declare the items on Whiteside Road property be declared a nuisance

Indigenous leader shares traditional knowledge of B.C. plants for Earth Day

Guided walks through Beacon Hill Park provide insight to historical uses of Camas, Indian Plum, snow berries

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

Turbulent times for outgoing B.C. Lieutenant Governor

Judith Guichon ends term today, returns to Nicola Valley ranch

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Maple Leafs look to stay alive tonight as they face elimination against Boston on home ice

Electric vehicles more affordable than you think: BC Hydro

Myths blocking road to electric vehicle adoption

Kinder Morgan bungled pipeline public relations: poll

The survey suggests 58 per cent of Canadians believe the company is to blame for poor perceptions

Plane makes a surprise landing on the Coquihalla

Social media was alive Sunday night with pictures from Coquihalla commuters.

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasn’t.

Trump is claiming that North Korea has agreed to “denuclearization” before his potential meeting with Kim, but that’s not the case.

Most Read