General who wrote reference for sex offender now working on sexual misconduct files

Maj. Gen. Peter Dawe, who wrote a positive reference letter for a sex offender, has returned to work and has been tasked with working on a number of reviews related to sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces.

Dawe was directed to leave his post “immediately” in early May, following reports he wrote a character reference for another service member who had been convicted of six criminal counts, including sexual assault.

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A source confirmed the news first reported by the Ottawa Citizen that Dawe is back at work — and directly working with the material from multiple sexual misconduct reviews.

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The reviews in question include a June report from former Supreme Court justice Morris Fish, which found that sexual misconduct remains as “rampant” and “destructive” in 2021 as it was in 2015, and another from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.

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Arbour’s review is aimed at providing advice to the government on creating an independent reporting system.

Dawe’s work on the reviews, the source said, will enable decision making and help ensure these recommendations are implemented in a timely, deliberate manner.

The Canadian military is in the grips of an institutional crisis over its handling of sexual misconduct and, in particular, the conduct of its senior leaders — some of whom now face allegations of misconduct.

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On Feb. 2, the issue burst into the spotlight after Global News reported on allegations against now-retired Gen. Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff. Vance has denied the allegations.

In the weeks that followed, military police have opened investigations into Vance as well as Adm. Art McDonald, Vance’s successor as chief of defence staff. Vance was subsequently charged with one count of obstruction of justice on July 15.

Multiple women have also spoken out publicly, sharing allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces.

The allegations also led to the launch of two studies by parliamentary committees.

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Years before any of these allegations became public, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps documented the scope of the military’s misconduct problem in her landmark 2015 report. But for six years, the Liberal government did not heed her key recommendation to create an independent reporting system.

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Deschamps found the chain of command reporting structure too often incentivizes supervisors sweeping allegations under the rug and that it creates a conflict of interest when the individual accused is superior to the complainant.

— with files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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