THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 36, Season 10
Sunday, Might 30, 2021
Host: Mercedes Stephenson
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of Defence Employees
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Mercedes Stephenson: This week on The West Block: Royal Army Faculty, the establishment that forges Canada’s navy officers, however past the pomp and ceremony, allegations of a poisonous tradition of silence and cover-ups.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: “Truthful, however not the entire reality. Select to be valour. Don’t get caught.”
Mercedes Stephenson: Is RMC on the coronary heart of the sexual misconduct drawback within the Canadian forces?
And with Operation Honour shut down, what comes subsequent for the navy? An interview with Canada’s performing Chief of the Defence Employees Lieutenant-Normal Wayne Eyre.
It’s Sunday, Might 30th. I’m Mercedes Stephenson, and that is The West Block.
Set towards the sting of Lake Ontario in Kingston, Royal Army Faculty, or RMC, cuts and imposing determine. That is Canada’s west level, the coaching floor for generations of navy officers. However as our investigation into navy sexual misconduct has unfolded, RMC has come up many times as a part of the issue.
Leah West, Carleton College: “RMC is the breeding floor, sadly primarily based on my experiences, of poisonous tradition that permeates the forces.”
Mercedes Stephenson: As we speak, for the primary time, we’ll hear from a person, talking about navy sexual misconduct. A former senior officer, acknowledged for his battlefield command in Afghanistan, a person who says he witnessed inaction, denial and cover-ups at RMC and that when he tried to behave, he was silenced and reprimanded by the brass.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army: “The reality is what they need it to be.”
Mercedes Stephenson: RMC’s former director of cadets retired Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Popov, shares his story and sense of betrayal. An expertise he discovered extra painful than serving in Afghanistan. Right here is that interview.
Mark, thanks a lot for sitting down with us in the present day.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Thanks for the chance.
Mercedes Stephenson: We’re right here in Kingston, we’re at Fort Henry. Royal Army Faculty is behind us. You spent a while there.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: I did, sure.
Mercedes Stephenson: Inform me what you had been doing at Royal Army Faculty and what that point was like?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: I used to be posted there in Might of 2014 to be the director of cadets, the commanding officer of the navy coaching wing and in addition the dean of scholars as type of a 3 hats, one job, so principally, the commanding officer for the 1,200 undergraduate officer cadets attending RMC as a part of the common officer coaching plan.
Mercedes Stephenson: After your time at RMC, once you look behind you and see Royal Army Faculty, what’s the sensation you get?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Remorse and disgrace.
Mercedes Stephenson: Why remorse and disgrace?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Effectively I remorse having gone there as a result of it was the top of my profession and I really feel disgrace as a result of numerous issues occurred there that reveal the failures in management proper now which can be endemic within the Canadian Armed Forces. And RMC being a foundational expertise for the cohort of junior officers, the issues that I noticed there have set the circumstances for the issues we’re seeing now, particularly with sexual misconduct within the forces.
Mercedes Stephenson: What sorts of issues did you see once you had been at RMC?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Effectively, I noticed sexual misconduct being coated up. I noticed the commandant of RMC, Brigadier-Normal Friday admonish myself and different officers for placing issues in writing in case there is likely to be an entry to data request. I noticed proof of sexual misconduct being ignored as a result of it could make the establishment look dangerous. I noticed general, a scarcity of management and motion. The looks of exercise, however no actual will to deal with misconduct on the navy faculty.
Mercedes Stephenson: Are you able to give me an instance of a type of incidents that you simply witnessed and was coated up?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Effectively in July of 2015, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, which is a navy sponsored youth program, holds a summer time camp at RMC. So that you’ve acquired numerous younger folks between the ages of 12 and 19, occupying the lodging and doing coaching and on the identical time, RMC officer cadets that are subordinate officers within the forces, they’re sworn in as Canadian Armed Forces members, are there doing second language coaching and different actions. And one evening, a gaggle of the RMC officer cadets, who had been beneath my command, mentioned some fairly horrible issues, sexually harassed a gaggle of younger girls from the Sea Cadet program on the parade sq.. So once I came upon about that, I instantly ordered my workers to take some steps to restrict, you understand, the occupants of that constructing the place the harassment had come from, as a result of they had been screaming out the home windows at these younger girls, and begin an investigation. And Gen. Friday stopped that from occurring as a result of he mentioned it seemed like group punishment and we have to have a look at choices. And the choices that he selected was actually to do nothing, so the message that it despatched was that this sort of motion, this sort of conduct is okay. So subsequently, I had the members of that barrack block shaped up on the parade sq. and I addressed them and I learn the transcript of what had been mentioned, which the obligation officer had been passing by and heard and he written it down, learn the transcript of what was mentioned and, you understand, I mentioned principally that, you understand, should you stand by and let this occur, you’re as responsible because the perpetrators. And so then, you understand, someday after that, Gen. Friday had heard that I had completed that and considered that as improper—improper conduct and I used to be admonished and a few profession administration was taken towards me, which successfully ended my profession or any hope of development or promotion.
Mercedes Stephenson: Mark, are you aware what these younger cadets yelled on the younger girls that had been on the parade sq. at these younger girls?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: I do, however I’m not going to repeat it as a result of it’s too vile. It primarily supplied sexual violence and violent sexual assault, made utterly demeaning feedback to them, stuff that ought to by no means be mentioned to anybody.
Mercedes Stephenson: And once you tried to behave on it, once you tried to carry folks accountable, to self-discipline them, Gen. Friday, as a substitute of disciplining them, punished you.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Sure. Sure, completely.
Mercedes Stephenson: So this—that is your expertise. Do you suppose that is what occurs to males within the Canadian Armed Forces who tried to face up after they noticed sexual misconduct and say one thing or do one thing about it?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Sure, as a result of now we have a scenario the place Gen. Friday’s view was defending the establishment in any respect prices, shield the previous boys’ membership. As a protégé of Normal Lawson, Mr. oh males are wired in another way from girls, so the previous boys’ is okay. Boys will probably be boys. Effectively that—that’s the college. So, defending the establishment was to Gen. Friday, extra essential than defending people, than doing the proper issues and taking actions. I used to be informed on a number of events by Gen. Friday, don’t write issues down. Don’t—don’t e mail me issues. Don’t make studies as a result of there is likely to be an entry to data request, and we’d have questions on navy justice. Don’t put issues in writing.
Mercedes Stephenson: World Information reached to the Division of Nationwide Defence for remark. It mentioned all alleged incidents of sexual misconduct at RMC had been acted upon appropriately, together with offering speedy help to victims. The Division went additional and mentioned RMC is without doubt one of the first organizations within the Canadian Armed Forces to have an in-depth program for sexual assault prevention and response. They mentioned they had been used to assist develop the Canadian Armed Forces vast insurance policies that had been developed for sufferer help, allegation, investigation, bystander coaching and lots of different parts of RMC’s complete program to fight towards this reprehensible behaviour. The Division additionally mentioned, “We have now no indication to recommend that Brig.-Gen. Friday dealt with issues with something however the utmost care and respect for current insurance policies and the rule of regulation.” The Division additionally mentioned Lt.-Gen. Popov’s handle on the parade sq. was investigated primarily based on allegations he utilized in acceptable language to reprimand the officer cadets. Popov acknowledges he swore when admonishing the cadets, explaining he was mortified and incensed by what had been reported to him.
After the break, extra of my unique interview with Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov.
Mercedes Stephenson: Welcome again. Our in-depth look into allegations about sexual misconduct being ignored and coated up at Royal Army Faculty continues.
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I requested Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov what else he witnessed throughout his time at RMC.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Effectively in September 2015, a feminine officer cadet woke with a male in her room, and he stole items of her underwear after which fled the scene. She acknowledged him. He was arrested by the navy police and put into custody. Choose advocate common reviewed and required that he be launched from custody. I wished to take away this particular person from this system, take away him from the barracks, take away him from the location of his sufferer and that was stopped by Gen. Friday. Gen. Friday’s response was to have her use a special set of stairs than him so in have an effect on, punishing the sufferer, limiting her motion for being courageous sufficient to report. And Gen. Friday was extra involved about, once more, I used to be admonished for scripting this report in e mail as a result of it is likely to be ATI’d, entry to data, and he was extra involved that the sufferer’s boyfriend would possibly take motion towards the perpetrator than in defending the sufferer. What sort of message does that ship?
Mercedes Stephenson: We speak about girls within the Canadian Armed Forces so much being affected by sexual misconduct. I’ve talked to different males. You’re the primary man that I’ve sat down with on digicam. It’s not simply hurting girls.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: This isn’t a girls difficulty, that is the management difficulty. It is a failure of the establishment difficulty. That is how we choose folks to occupy these senior jobs and we don’t maintain them to account. How is that senior leaders are being referred to as to account for egregious private misconduct but the actions that I’ve demonstrated right here that Gen. Friday took have completed institutional hurt to a cohort of younger officers. What number of younger girls on the market are saying to myself—to themselves, nothing will probably be completed if I report? Nothing will probably be completed. The chain of command doesn’t care. The previous boys’ membership will keep intact. It is a management difficulty.
Mercedes Stephenson: Mark you served at RMC beneath a couple of commandant. You additionally served beneath Lieutenant-Normal Meinzinger, who’s the pinnacle of the Royal Canadian Air Pressure. The highest common, operating all of Canada’s air pressure personnel, providers, plane, you title it—highly effective man. What was he like when he was right here because the commandant?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Gen. Meinzinger’s main focus was defending the establishment and ensuring RMC seemed good. He loved his time as commandant of RMC, reliving his fourth yr glory days as a hockey participant, however with a one-star common’s uniform on. Not numerous management. I’ll return to the Julie Lalonde scenario, the place, you understand, she indicated she had been sexually harassed throughout a sexual harassment briefing she was giving by RMC cadets. No feedback from Gen. Meinzinger’s workplace. No investigation ordered. Every part clammed up. This was sat on for months till the media saved bringing the difficulty up after which lastly, grudgingly, there was a phrase salad grudging semi-apology issued by Gen. Meinzinger’s workplace, however there was no motion taken inside RMC and inner to deal with this. I used to be so new on the job, I took my lead from Gen. Meinzinger, however I’ll let you know that it didn’t really feel proper.
Mercedes Stephenson: Mark, how did Gen. Meinzinger deal with victims of sexual misconduct and sexual assault throughout his time as commandant of RMC?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Underneath Gen. Meinzinger at RMC, the victims of sexual misconduct, sexual assault had been—had been—had been handled as one thing simply to be ignored, actually. I’ll offer you an instance. In 2015, there have been plenty of—of—of victims of sexual assault at RMC who had been slated to graduate and a few them had been present process medical psychological therapy for the trauma they’d endured, so subsequently weren’t technically, from a medical standpoint, medically match. So subsequently, not eligible to be promoted, which translated into after 4 years at RMC, they’d not be permitted to graduate as a result of they’d been raped. Gen. Meinzinger was superb with this. He was—he—his view was nicely there’s nothing I can do, it’s the system. It was solely till some very strenuous lobbying on—by the educational wing and the principal and the professors and deans and me and different workers that Gen. Meinzinger determined to try to take some motion.
Mercedes Stephenson: How does what occurs right here have an effect on the navy in phrases to systemic sexual misconduct?
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Effectively this tells the perpetrators who’ve gotten away with it that they will get away with it, that they are going to be protected, that the senior management just isn’t enthusiastic about pursuing it they usually’re free to do what they need. The underwear thief continues to be on the market someplace, most likely serving in uniform having acquired away with it. Take into consideration that. So it permits this sort of conduct of those that can be perpetrators, and for many who can be victims, it says what you say doesn’t matter as a result of no motion will probably be taken. It’s all discuss, no motion. And what it says to those that would take motion within the mid-level management vary that the senior management doesn’t help you, just isn’t , so why hassle?
Mercedes Stephenson: Mark, thanks for sitting down with us. I do know it is a very painful topic so that you can speak about.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Completely.
Mercedes Stephenson: However we expect it’s an essential one, and we admire you sharing your time and your experiences with us and with our viewers.
Retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov, former director of cadets, Royal Army Faculty: Thanks. The reality wants to come back out. Individuals must know what’s occurring.
Mercedes Stephenson: The Division of Nationwide Defence is standing by Lt.-Gen. Meinzinger and Maj.-Gen. Friday. Maj.-Gen. Friday supplied an announcement. It reads partly, throughout my time as commandant of RMC, we did our utmost to make sure that our future CAF leaders might thrive in a wholesome and secure studying setting. I’ll proceed to work in the direction of enhancing our method to misconduct and to pay attention and be taught from victims with empathy and dedication to take motion. The Division mentioned the incident involving alleged sexual harassment skilled by girls’s rights advocate, Julie Lalonde, was addressed months earlier than it made headlines, with apologies supplied and formal investigations undertaken. Remedial coaching was additionally supplied to the category in query. The Division mentioned it couldn’t discover proof that Meinzinger initially didn’t intervene when a number of sexual assault victims at RMC had been deemed not medically match to graduate on account of therapy they had been receiving. In an announcement, Lt.-Gen. Meinzinger mentioned, “All through my tenure as commandant of Royal Army Faculty, I championed work to deal with sexual harassment and misconduct as a precedence. Incidents had been investigated and the suitable actions taken to carry all members of the school or staff to account, in accordance with CAF insurance policies. Any options that I didn’t handle the dealing with of sexual misconduct with the utmost consideration and motion, is solely not true.”
Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, performing Chief of the Defence Employees Lieutenant-Normal Wayne Eyre joins me to proceed this dialog on sexual misconduct within the Canadian navy.
Mercedes Stephenson: Welcome again. Survivors of sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces proceed to talk out. Not solely girls, but additionally males and people who say they tried to step up and cease the flawed from occurring however had been silenced.
When Chief of the Defence Employees Admiral Artwork McDonald needed to step apart beneath police investigation for alleged sexual assault, Normal Wayne Eyre unexpectedly discovered himself within the job. Gen. Eyre ended Operation Honour, however has dedicated the forces to a brand new path. What does that appear like?
Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre joins me now. Lt.-Gen., we simply heard from the previous director of cadets at RMC, retired Lt.-Col. Mark Popov. He’s detailed numerous the issues that he sees as beginning at RMC. He’s made allegations of cover-ups, of sexual misconduct, of victims not being handled accurately. You’re the chief of the defence workers and also you’re additionally a graduate of Royal Army Faculty. Do you imagine that the tradition at RMC is a part of the issue?
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: So Mercedes, I’m not aware of the—I haven’t been briefed on the main points of that but. However I’ll say, 4 years in the past, there have been plenty of critiques completed of the Royal Army Faculty and the commandant is at the moment within the technique of implementing the suggestions that got here out of these critiques. And the following commandant, who I’ve not too long ago introduced, goes to hold on and we proceed to make Royal Army Faculty a greater place, as now we have to repeatedly enhance what we ship by way of the leaders that we produce by way of this establishment. , I’ll say that, you understand, RMC just isn’t—faces challenges like each different post-secondary establishment on the market, however what’s totally different right here, is the purported values that we put on the market: reality, obligation, valour. Once we don’t stay as much as these, the say-do hole causes a a lot higher sense of betrayal. , all that being mentioned, RMC have produced nice leaders for this nation: docs, legal professionals, engineers, astronauts, present sitting parliamentarians, and it continues to provide nice leaders. I’ve seen RMC graduates do incredible issues on operations, main our troops in fight, placing themselves in danger, serving their nation seamlessly. However there’s work to do. There’s work to do throughout our total establishment.
Mercedes Stephenson: I needed to marvel, when these allegations first got here out, the way you felt. I’ve recognized you professionally for a very long time, and once you needed to step in because the chief of the defence workers, because the allegations towards Normal Vance who had already retired got here out towards then-Admiral McDonald, they’ve continued to come back out. We’ve continued to look at senior leaders must step apart. What has this been like for you, as somebody who’s giving your life to this establishment?
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: Effectively, Mercedes, to be utterly frank, it hurts. It—it’s a deep ache. It’s an assault on the skilled identification of 1—I’m a part of that…and it’s a way of guilt as nicely, as a result of I’m a part of that senior chief cohort that the era, together with the generations which have gone earlier than us, that haven’t collectively mounted this establishment sufficient. And that actually hurts. However with that, it—with that sense of discomfort, it’s additionally a motivation—motivation to make this place—make this establishment higher each day. Yeah, I don’t understand how lengthy I’m going to be on this job, however I’ll let you know that daily, I’m going to attempt to make it higher. And that’s what I anticipate out of each chief on this group.
Mercedes Stephenson: Does it concern you that you simply’ve had an increasing number of senior leaders having to step apart? Within the case of, you understand, Main-Normal Fortin, an allegation that dates again to 1989 so it sort of looks as if the doorways are open on completely all the pieces now. Does that begin to have an operational or a safety impact on the Canadian Armed Forces should you hold having high generals who must step out of their position?
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: Effectively, now we have many challenges proper now. In the event you check out the safety setting writ massive, the world is turning into a way more harmful place, as now we have a confluence of many stresses. And so, addressing this tradition problem, addressing this difficulty inside our establishment in order that we will deal with the defence of Canada, is an absolute crucial. Now what we’re seeing now, is a reconciliation of our previous. And the true tragedy is now we have complainants who’ve carried the ache of what has occurred previously for many years and so serving to them, supporting them to attain closure is totally—needs to be on the high of the checklist in—in serving to us get by way of this.
Mercedes Stephenson: How do you do this? I do know you made the choice to close down Operation Honour. A number of the victims felt that it had principally been poisoned. How do you go ahead and create this new and totally different establishment? And the way do you do this as somebody who’s within the very tough place of being an performing chief of the defence workers versus the completely appointed one?
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: Initially, we will’t watch the failure. And so I’ve requested the workforce right here to take a—a pay attention, be taught, act method. Let’s hearken to consultants. Let’s hearken to survivors and victims. Let’s hearken to our folks on the grassroots stage in order that we don’t devise options which can be Ottawa-centric. Let’s be taught. Let’s be taught from consultants. Let’s be taught from the varied studies which have been put on the market whose suggestions now we have did not utterly implement. After which after we act, let’s take a—construct a deliberate complete plan to actually change our tradition. Let’s not do that superficially, let’s make it who we’re.
Mercedes Stephenson: Do you’re feeling the navy police are able to investigating this? Do you suppose the navy justice system is as much as this?
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: I place confidence in the navy justice system and I place confidence in the—within the navy police. The navy police—the navy police are amongst the tenth largest police forces within the nation. And like each different police pressure on the market, they’re studying, they’re evolving as we take care of the very complicated social conditions. And they should proceed to evolve. They should proceed to—to be taught like each different facet of this group. We should be a studying group.
Mercedes Stephenson: Lt.-Gen. Eyre, that’s on a regular basis now we have for in the present day, however thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.
Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Appearing Chief of the Defence Employees: Effectively thanks, Mercedes.
Mercedes Stephenson: That’s on a regular basis now we have for in the present day. However earlier than I am going, I need to give a shout out to our very personal Peter Wugalter, who over 40 years of tv manufacturing expertise beneath his belt, has been acknowledged, receiving the RTDNA Canada Prairie Area Lifetime Achievement Award. What a deserving recipient, let me let you know. Congratulations Peter. From the entire West Block workforce, thanks for your entire exhausting work. And on that be aware, for The West Block, I’m Mercedes Stephenson. I’ll see you proper again right here, subsequent week.