I'm not talking about the rodeo with bulls and horses.
Nor am I talking about the album that unleashed The Rodeo Song on the Canadian public in the early '80s.
No, I'm talking about the way in which the Canadian Armed Forces hide embarrassing matters by a series of techniques meant to obstruct Access To Information requests.
Last week there was a bombshell of sorts released during a pre-trial hearing into proceedings against former Vice-Chief of Defence Staff Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
It turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence have actively been skirting around Access to Information laws so as to keep internal documents away from persons who need access to this type of information whether it be for research purposes or for to formulate their defence.
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This brings up my involvement with the Canadian Armed Forces.
To date I have filed Access-To-Information requests looking for the following information from DND:
a) How many cases of child sexual abuse are investigated by the CFNIS.
b) How many investigations of historical child sexual abuse have been thwarted due to the 3-year time bar that existed prior to 1998.
c)Has DND ever conducted any studies into the long term mental health of military dependants.
d)Copies of studies or reports from DND that looked into child physical and/or mental abuse or neglect within the defence community.
e)The number of child homicides within the defence community.
Now, you would think that DND would have some sort of information related to those topics, right?
Well, the response that I typically receive runs along the lines of "After a thorough search of all records, no information could be found.
With the Vice-Admiral Norman matter, this makes me wonder if DND is actively thwarting Access-To-Information searches for embarrassing subjects by changing subject lines and by encrypting folders so that they don't show up during access-to-information request searches.
See, I know for a fact that General Jonathan Vance is being less than truthful when he feigns to be "alarmed" and "disgusted". I filed an access to information request a while ago for all emails related to me that had been transmitted between various persons within the Department of National Defence. One page of one of the information releases was very curious indeed.
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Here we have a member of the Canadian Forces within the correspondence unit for the Minister of National Defence instructing another member of the same unit to encrypt the contents of a file that contains my correspondence and to change the subject line to "Concerns with the CAF". Concerns with the CAF sure sounds a lot more neutral than "Child sexual abuse within the defence community" eh? Also, by encrypting the documents and the file, the contents will never show up during an access-to-information record search.
The interesting thing about this letter is that the previous message in the email chain was from the office of the Judge Advocate General. In the command structure of the Canadian Armed Forces, the JAG is higher up the totem pole than the Chief of Defence Staff.
I can only wonder how much sway that the JAG has in a 38 year old child sexual abuse fiasco. A fiasco that already resulted in the Canadian Armed Forces accepting general liabilities for personal damages suffered by the same person that Canadian Armed Forces officer Captain Father Angus McRae was using to lure younger children over to the chapel to be plied with alcohol. The same person that abused children not only on Canadian Forces Base Namao, but on other bases as well.
Makes me wonder just what else DND is encrypting and hiding.
Minister Harjit Sajjan and General Jonathan Vance aren't the cause of the sickness that currently infects DND. But they sure as hell aren't the cure. The Government of Canada really needs to clean house and sweep out those that would use their positions to hide unpleasant truths.