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Canadian Military Recruits Mock 'Operation Honor' as 'Hop On Her'

Canada's top military commander launched "Operation Honor" earlier this year, in the wake of a damning inquiry that found “endemic” sexual misconduct within the armed forces.
October 26, 2015, 10:05pm
General Jonathan Vance/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

In response to a damning inquiry that found "endemic" sexual misconduct within the armed forces, Canada's top military commander signaled how seriously he took the issue by launching "Operation Honor" soon after he took the helm.

"Any form of harmful sexual behavior undermines who were are, is a threat to moral, is a threat to operational readiness and is a threat to this institution," General Jonathan Vance wrote in a stern memo in July. "It stops now," he warned.


But that didn't stick for some recruits and military personnel who, according to the Ottawa Citizen, decided it would be hilarious to instead nickname their superior's initiative Operation "Hop on Her," which conjures up sexually violating a woman.

It's unclear just how widespread the term is, but it underscores how much harder Vance will have to work.

"It's pretty sick that there are still those in the military who see all this as a joke," Ottawa lawyer Michel Drapeau, who represents military officers who say they were sexually assaulted and harassed at work, told the Citizen. "When you have some people openly making fun of Vance, then what does that tell you?"

The cases of a number of Drapeau's clients led to an independent inquiry last year into sexual abuse within the military by former Supreme Court judge Marie Deschamps. Her final report, released in April, found a "culture of misogyny" — including rape jokes and other sexual innuendo — that creates "an undeniable problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault" that is tolerated by those in the highest ranks.

Deschamps put forward 10 recommendations, including that officers acknowledge the military has a problem and that an effective strategy is implemented to curb it.

Related: Sexualized Culture In Canadian Military Is Responsible for Harassment, Assault, and Stifled Reporting, Retired Judge Says

The Forces responded by pledging to "improve its culture of dignity and respect for all men and women of the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces), ensuring that the highest professional standards are maintained."


Shortly after that, the military was under fire again after Vance's predecessor General Tom Lawson told CBC News that sexual harassment was a problem because people are "biologically wired in a certain way."

"There will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others. It's not the way it should be," he said, later apologizing for his "awkward" remarks.

It was in the shadow of those remarks, and the inquiry, that Vance come down hard on sexual misconduct.

A CAF spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the new name for Operation Honor, but told the Citizen that the situation "does not call for levity" and that they "expect all (military) members to have the maturity to take this issue seriously."

"This type of behavior is one of the many reasons (Vance) has implemented Operation Honor."

For sexual assault prevention educator Julie Lalonde, these jokes reveal just how little has changed within the military. She submitted a complaint to the Royal Military College after a number of cadets hurled cat calls and rape jokes at her while presented a workshop at the College last fall.

SO disappointed to hear of CAF members mocking Operation Honour & the work to end military sexual violence. — Julie S. Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde)October 25, 2015

It's been over a year & I still get flack for what happened to me at RMC. And yet, seems little has changed: — Julie S. Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde)October 25, 2015

She received an apology from the school's commandant this spring, five months after she filed her complaint.

There are currently three ongoing sexual assault cases under investigation by the Royal Military College.