Conduct Case MPCC‑2018‑010 Summary

This conduct complaint relates to a Military Police (MP) investigation into an alleged incident of assault and harassment. The incident occurred in 2016 while the Complainant served as part of the crew of a naval vessel.

The Complainant had been consuming alcoholic beverages and eventually lost consciousness around 22:30. While he was unconscious, someone drew on his face. Who did the drawing and the exact content of the allegedly offensive drawing is unconfirmed. At least one individual took a selfie with the Complainant while he had the drawing on his face.

The Complainant awoke in the Mess after 02:30 the following morning. A supervisor alerted him to the drawing on his face and told him to wash it off. The Complainant was intoxicated to the point that medical intervention was required to prevent alcohol poisoning.

The individual who took the selfie with the Complainant had shown the photo to other members of the ship. A supervisor advised the individual to delete the photo from his phone, which he did.

The following day, a supervisor sent an email to the ship’s company to announce that inappropriate conduct in the Messes would not be tolerated and that it was no place for cameras.

The Complainant was flown back to Canada for medical repatriation. He received a Notice of Intent to Initiate Recorded Warning for consuming alcohol in an unauthorized location. He subsequently submitted a personal statement of concerns regarding the incident in which he relayed that he endured bullying and acts of racial discrimination.

A formal Unit Disciplinary Investigation was conducted regarding the Complainant’s behaviour, which resulted in a recommendation for three charges under the National Defence Act.

The Chain of Command (CoC) determined that the Complainant’s statement did not constitute a harassment complaint by definition but that it did speak to an issue that must be addressed. The unit sent email messages and held a quorum to address inappropriate behaviour and bullying, stating the untoward behaviour in the Mess would not be tolerated.

The CoC also spoke directly with the Complainant to review the information in his statement and find a resolution to his concerns. Initially the Complainant sought an apology from the individuals he suspected drew on his face and took the selfie, as well as from the Mess. He later withdrew that request and told the CoC that he was satisfied with the action they had taken to address the incident.

In December 2016, the Complainant was sentenced at summary trial for drunkenness. He again submitted his personal statement. That same day, the CoC discuss the alleged culture of bullying on the ship, actions that had taken place in response, and future actions to improve the workplace environment.

In March 2017, the Complainant sought the assistance of a Workplace Harassment Advisor who then contacted the Military Police Unit to initiate a criminal/service offence investigation into alleged harassment experienced by the Complainant. The MP investigation took place from March 2017 until May 2017.

The MP investigator, who is the subject of the complaint to the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC), interviewed the Complainant. He also interviewed three witnesses in relation to the incident that occurred in the Mess. One of the witnesses advised the subject MP that there was a “tradition” of drawing on the faces of shipmates when they fell asleep. The alleged perpetrator of the drawing declined the MP request to be interviewed.

In May 2017, the subject MP concluded the investigation and did not recommend charges. He noted that while an impropriety occurred, it was minor in nature, there was no compelling evidence of discrimination against the Complainant, and the CoC had dealt appropriately with the matter. In an email to the Complainant, the subject MP informed him that due to a number of factors including several witnesses being unavailable or unwilling to speak with the Military Police, as well as a lack of physical evidence, he had not recommended charges and he closed the MP investigation.

The Complainant took issue with this finding, believing that the MP investigation was closed without interviewing witnesses. He filed a grievance in September 2017.

An administrative review of the grievance was conducted. The review concluded that the CoC took appropriate action to address the Complainant’s harassment complaint, however a third-party harassment investigation was ordered due to a 2017 change in the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions that now included “personal humiliation” in the definition of harassment. The results of this third-party harassment investigation were released in October 2019.

In addition, since part of the Complainant’s grievance dealt with MP conduct of an investigation and constituted a policing duty or function, this portion was sent for investigation to Professional Standards (PS) of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp).

In May 2018, PS concluded the investigation into the conduct of the subject MP who conducted the criminal/service offence investigation into the alleged bullying and discrimination. The Deputy Commander concluded that the matter had already been dealt with appropriately by the CoC, the MP investigation was thorough, and no compelling evidence existed to support the Complainant’s allegations against the subject MP.

In June 2018, the Complainant sent a request for review to the MPCC alleging that the MP failed to investigate his complaint fully and closed their investigation without interviewing witnesses.

Through its own investigation, the MPCC determined that the allegation was unsubstantiated. The subject MP noted all witnesses that the Complainant mentioned in their interview, then conducted interviews with those witnesses that were allegedly involved with the incident, and reviewed all the evidence available to him at the time of his investigation.

The MPCC found it reasonable that the subject MP determined he did not have reasonable and probable grounds to conclude that a criminal offence had been committed and that there was insufficient evidence to lay a charge, and that he exercised his police discretion properly.. However, the MPCC recommended that the subject MP review the obligation for detailed note taking of investigative steps as well as the necessity to document his decision making process. The MPCC further recommended that Military Police members clearly communicate information about the investigation to complainants including the reasons for their conclusions. The MPCC also noted that there were several processes undertaken to address the Complainant’s allegations and this may have led to confusion about the difference between administrative, disciplinary and criminal investigations of harassment complaints.

In response to the MPCC’s Report, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted the MPCC’s finding and recommendations in this matter.

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