CSIS director claims senior officer accused of sexual harassment 'removed from service'

Claims CSIS launched third-party investigation 'immediately upon learning of the allegations'

CSIS director claims senior officer accused of sexual harassment 'removed from service'

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has spoken up to correct what it claims to be “factual inaccuracies” in the media’s reporting of sexual harassment allegations raised by two workers.

These inaccuracies include details about “CSIS’s promptness, its response and its exhaustive investigations” into the allegations, according to a statement from David Vigneault, CSIS director.

“Immediately upon learning of the allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour, CSIS launched a third-party investigation without delay and the individual implicated by the allegations was removed from the workplace,” read part of the statement. “The recommendations are currently being actioned.”

Last week, The Canadian Press reported that one CSIS officer claimed that she was raped by one senior officer nine times while at work in CSIS surveillance vehicles between July 2019 and February 2020. Another female officer also said she was sexually assaulted as a rookie by the same officer in surveillance vehicles during covert missions, according to the report.

The report also noted that the two women felt unable to go to police, in part because of an obligation to secrecy, including a law against identifying themselves or others as CSIS officers, and a belief “the organization would cover things up”.

“Employees who may have been victims of a crime are encouraged to report it to the police. Further, employment with CSIS does not, and will never prevent employees from reporting a crime to the police,” according to the Friday statement from Vigneault.

“In cases of founded harassment, violence, discrimination or misconduct, appropriate disciplinary and corrective measures are determined by a Discipline Committee and CSIS is committed to responding decisively and effectively. These measures can and have included termination of employment, and other strong measures to correct and address inappropriate actions.”

Vigneault, however, admitted that there have been issues at CSIS in the past.

“For too long, a culture existed at CSIS where inappropriate behaviours were not addressed and inaction allowed these issues to fester,” said Vigneault.

CSIS claimed that it has made significant improvements in its grievance and harassment investigation processes over the last few years, and that it has “confidence in the integrity of its internal grievance mechanisms”. 

They said that both the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of British Columbia “found no flaw in the existing process at CSIS nor any evidence that the internal process is compromised or otherwise corrupted”.

“We are determined to do all that it takes to address any such allegations as they are raised to our attention, and in doing so, create a workplace culture that is respectful, safe, inclusive and ensures our valued employees can continue to protect Canada and Canadians,” said Vigneault.

Earlier this year, the Workers’ Resource Centre (WRC) launched HereForHelp.ca – Alberta’s Sexual Harassment Resource Hub – to help workers who have been victims of sexual harassment.

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