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Military police in B.C. make two arrests over homophobic Facebook page

COMOX, B.C. - Military police have arrested two soldiers and continue to investigate allegations of homophobic and racist harassment of Forces members on a Facebook page.

The Department of National Defence said in early January 2014 military police began an investigation into potentially defamatory posts on the "Cpl Bloggins" Facebook page. Two Canadian Armed Forces members were arrested at CFB Petawawa on Jan. 22 but no charges have been laid.

In early February, military police received a new complaint alleging defamation and inappropriate comments were posted on another Facebook page with the same name.

"As this incident is currently under investigation by the Canadian Forces Military Police no further details can be released at this time," Maj. Yves Desbiens, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Military Police Group, said in an email.

"The identity of the two CAF members arrested is protected under the Privacy Act. If charges are laid additional information will be provided at that time."

Katherine Bickford, a retired Canadian Forces member whose same-sex partner works at 19 Wing Comox on Vancouver Island, said the couple has been identified, mocked and threatened on the page.

Bickford said even her mother has been targeted, as well as other members of the military, in comments left by active members of the Forces.

"You put something on the Internet, and yes, it's out there… this guy actually trolls Facebook, Twitter. He trolls the Canadian Forces spouses and groups on Facebook and posts information," she noted. "They're making fun of when CFB Edmonton raised the pride flag, or making fun of a wounded warrior.

"I know this has damaged the careers of people. There's a lot of people who are suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This kind of stuff doesn't help them. It certainly doesn't help me."

The page, which was shut down previously, is now in its third incarnation.

"When it became personal, that's when I became really angry," she said, adding that one post included derogatory comments about her mother.

Bickford said being identified on the page gave her the motivation to take action.

"In my case, same-sex couple... big deal. I don't care. I've marched in pride parades, my partner marched in Toronto Pride wearing her uniform, no big deal. We're not ashamed of it."

Bickford went to Comox Valley RCMP, who told her there was not much they could do until someone contacts her or her spouse or shows up at their home, though they did begin an investigation.

She believes it will only be a matter of time until someone shows up at her door.

Bickford said she's resorted to carrying around a baseball bat and bear spray for protection and has taken security measures around their home on the Vancouver Island military base.

"We're scared," she said.

Bickford said she's happy there have been arrests but disheartened that the Canadian Forces did not make an announcement.

"The site will go on in one form or another until the Canadian Forces makes it very clear that this is going to be treated as an offence, and that it will be eliminated," she said.

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