June 17, 2015. Addressing the issue of sexual misconduct during a sit-down interview for the evening newscast, CBC News "The National", the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson, opined:
“It would be a trite answer, but it’s because we’re biologically wired in a certain way and there will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others. It’s not the way it should be.”
Asked to elaborate, General Lawson said:
Much as we would very much like to be absolutely professional in everything we do, and I think by and large we are, there will be situations and have been situations where, largely, men will see themselves as able to press themselves onto our women members.
Following a firestorm of protest and frissons of disbelief, General Lawson quickly apologized calling his comments an “awkward characterization.” Be that as it may, his comments were also later denounced the same day by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who characterized them as “offensive, inappropriate and completely unacceptable.”
General Lawson went on to repeat the same apology the following day during a previously scheduled appearance before a Parliamentary Committee on National Defence adding: “It was unhelpful conjecture on my part as to what might motivate someone in a heinous way to believe they can press themselves on someone else.” During the "tour de table" several Members of Parliament expressed outrage. Some seemed uncertain as to whether General Lawson’s comments were representative of a systemic Canadian military problem. Others opined that Lawson’s comment “helps explain why the Deschamps report has never been taken seriously.” [The Deschamps Report, which was tabled by retired Justice Marie Deschamps on April 30, 2015, followed her year-long cross-country review of sexual misconduct in the military. Her report deplored the existence of a ‘sexualized culture’ within the military establishment that disproportionately affects lower-ranking female members.]
General Lawson is scheduled to retire on July 17, 2015. He will be replaced by Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance.