Member of military police charged in relation to racist pictures

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OTTAWA — A member of Canada’s military police has been charged with two counts of violating the Armed Forces’ disciplinary code after allegedly spreading racist pictures.

The Department of National Defence is not identifying the member but says he serves in 5 Military Police Regiment, based in Montreal and responsible for military law enforcement across Quebec.

News of the pictures first emerged in a message to Canadian military personnel last June from then-chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and his civilian counterpart at National Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas.

The two were apologizing at the time for their slow response to systemic racism in the military and Defence Department, and said military police were investigating a service member for allegedly spreading racist images.

Thomas and Vance did not provide specifics except to say that the incident was reported to have occurred in Quebec and specifically targeted Black people.

Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says an initial complaint was made directly to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, which looked into the allegation before referring it back to the member's unit.

The member was then charged with one count of committing an act to the prejudice of good order and discipline, and one of neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline.

"The matter is now proceeding through the military justice system," Le Bouthillier said in an email.

"We will continue to focus on ensuring that all are welcome, safe and treated with the same dignity and respect that we defend and protect each and every day in service to Canada."

Canada’s military police, including the CFNIS, have faced questions in recent weeks about their independence and ability to probe allegations of misconduct against senior military officers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press