Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan today issued the following statement:
“I am pleased to announce that the government and plaintiffs of several class action lawsuits filed on behalf of members of the Canadian Armed Forces relating to sexual assault, racism, harassment, and discrimination have agreed to suspend the current litigation processes. This will allow discussions to begin in order to potentially resolve these matters outside court.
“The government will not be proceeding with motions to strike these proceedings. We look forward to commencing these discussions to bring closure, healing, and acknowledgement to the victims and survivors of sexual assault, racism, harassment, and discrimination.
“We fully acknowledge the impact that racism and harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior may have on victims and survivors. This behavior, as well as discrimination based on gender or race, must be stopped in our society.
“We take seriously our obligation to ensure a safe work environment for all women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces. Senior military leaders have acknowledged this serious and unacceptable problem, and have taken concrete action to combat it through Operation HONOUR and through initiatives to eliminate racism and discrimination from the workplace.
“We have taken unprecedented action to improve and expand victim support for military members who have been affected by harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Members are gaining the confidence to come forward as they see incidents being dealt with in a serious and professional manner by the military police investigators and the chain of command. The same zero-tolerance approach is being applied to racist behaviour and all forms of discrimination.
“These focused efforts will continue until all our members are able to perform their duties in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.”