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Retired high court judge to review military sex harassment policies, procedures

OTTAWA - The military says retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps has agreed to conduct an independent, outside review of how the Canadian military deals with sexual misconduct.

Gen. Tom Lawson, chief of the defence staff, says Deschamps will look at and make recommendations about Canadian Forces policies, procedures and programs in relation to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.

She will investigate the extent to which soldiers, sailors and air personnel report alleged incidents of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.

And she will look at whether military culture and the chain of command deter people from reporting incidents.

The review follows media reports last spring of serious sexual misconduct within the military.

Lawson says he was deeply disturbed by those reports and doesn't accept that this is part of military culture.

"I have ordered an external independent review into how, as an institution, we deal with issues of this nature," he said in a statement.

Deschamps was named to the Supreme Court in 2002 and retired in August 2012. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Sherbrooke since 2006 and at McGill University since 2012.

"I am confident that she is the right person for this important work," Lawson said.

He pledged that she will get full co-operation and direct access to members, facilities and documents. Deschamps will also be available to any service members who may wish to contact her directly.

While she will be allowed to look into anything she thinks is relevant to help the military prevent sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, her investigation won't go into the workings of the military legal system.

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