COVER

INCIDENT AT BASE BORDEN

BRENDA BRANSWELL July 13 1998
COVER

INCIDENT AT BASE BORDEN

BRENDA BRANSWELL July 13 1998

INCIDENT AT BASE BORDEN

COVER

Anne Marie Aikins headed to CFB Borden on June 19 hoping for a productive meeting with military officials. Instead, the executive director of the Barrie and District Rape Crisis Line, who had been invited to the base, walked away from the lunch perturbed—and soon became angry enough to fire off a faxed letter to Defence Minister Art Eggleton the following morning. Aikins took issue with comments she maintains were made by base commander Col. William Reid about allegations of sexual assault in the military. According to Aikins, Reid opined that 80 per cent of the recent Maclean's stories about rape in the Canadian Forces are untrue— “though he would quickly add that 20 per cent was too much,” Aikins wrote in her complaint. “I was left speechless,” she added, “when he began talking about individual women and their circumstances.”

Aikins contends that Reid made disparaging, personal comments about Ann Margaret Dickey, an Oromocto, N.B., woman who recently went public with her allegations that she was repeatedly raped as a military recruit at CFB St-Jean, Que. (Dickey was not featured in the Maclean’s stories.) And she says he also spoke dismissively of Jamie Monkman, whose story of sexual assault was featured in the May 25 issue of Maclean’s. (The soldier charged in Monkman’s case entered into a peace bond, paying $500 and agreed to stay away from her for nine months.) “I’m not shocked,” Monkman said last week. “I knew that they would attack people in the article.” But Aikins was taken aback by the incident. "I was really uncomfortable and absolutely dismayed that he would tell me this stuff,” she told Maclean’s.

Her letter did not languish in a stack of faxes. Gen. Maurice Baril, head of the Canadian Forces, called her the next day after Eggleton asked that it be looked into immediately. Brig.-Gen. Kenneth Hague,

the commandant at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., then met with Aikins to clarify points in her letter. Reid was initially suspended by Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire— who is in charge of personnel matters and oversees Borden—although he had returned to work last week.

A military spokeswoman at CFB Borden said that Reid was declining interviews because the investigation was still under way.

Dallaire also would not comment until he wraps up discussions with Reid and Aikins this week. Aikins, meanwhile, worries that, in spite of Baril’s May 19 call for military personnel to report incidents of abuse, women will be more reluctant to talk to investigators if they feel they will not be believed—or that information may be leaked. She went to the June 19 meeting, she says, hoping that Borden officials were taking the issue of sexual misconduct seriously. Instead, she now concludes, “they are still minimizing, rationalizing—and denying that there is a problem.”

BRENDA BRANSWELL