Source: X (@CanadianForces)

A Royal Military College chaplain who was hailed by the Canadian military as an LGBTQ champion on Transgender Day of Visibility has been suspended following an alleged groping request. 

The Department of National Defence confirmed to True North that Capt. Beatrice Gale’s chaplaincy was revoked and the member was found to have violated military rules in a summary hearing because of “an inappropriate comment or request to another individual.” Gale was born a biological man but identifies as a woman.

“This incident stems from an inappropriate comment or request to another individual. Neither member was in a position of authority over the other,” DND spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin told True North. 

Gale received a relatively minor service infraction: on Apr. 3, Gale was found to have violated the Queen’s Regulations and Orders, which govern military conduct and affairs. 

The specific service infraction was for somebody who “otherwise behaves in a manner that adversely affects the discipline, efficiency or morale of the Canadian Forces.” 

“The mandate for Captain Gale to serve as a Canadian military chaplain remains suspended. The Chaplain General will consider the implications of the summary hearing’s outcome to determine if additional administrative actions within their authority are required,” said Poulin. 

Chaplains at the Royal Military College offer spiritual and religious care for CAF members as well as cadets studying at the institution. Part of their role includes facilitating religious services and counselling members seeking advice on religious, ethical or moral issues. The types of problems chaplains deal with include grief, addiction, suicidal thoughts, abuse and family problems. 

DND said Gale was disciplined with two days of docked pay and the removal of 20 days of leave. Gale is now on administrative duties but remains at the college.  

According to lawyer Phillip Millar of Millars Law, the specific infraction is used by the military as a “catch-all.” Millar, a former combat officer, frequently represents Canadian Armed Forces members in litigation.

“It appears to be an attempt to bypass the prohibition against prosecuting sexual offences. I know they are using the administrative system to punish for things they cannot successfully prosecute. The vaccine mandate is the clearest example of this,” said Millar.

One source familiar with the incident who chose to remain anonymous over fears of personal and professional retaliation alleged that Gale had become intoxicated during a dinner in the mess hall and asked to grope a male lieutenant’s buttocks. 

True North reached out to Gale for an opportunity to comment but did not receive a response. 

Millar said the way the military handled the conduct reveals a double standard.

“If a male officer behaved in a similar manner towards a subordinate female, the situation would be dealt with differently, and the offender’s name would be leaked to the press. Unfortunately, there is a lack of equality in how the Canadian Armed Forces handle such allegations,” said Millar. 

When asked why the Canadian Armed Forces didn’t refer the matter to civilian police as the military has done before on other cases where sexual assault or harassment was suspected, DND said that the case was not referred to civilian authorities by the Military Police due to the consideration of the victims’ interests and those of justice.

“The Military Police (MP) conducted a detailed and thorough investigation into this matter, and after consultation with the Crown, the MP determined that the evidence gathered did not meet the threshold for criminal charges,” said Poulin. 

Last month, the Liberal government introduced a bill to strip the Canadian Forces of the ability to investigate and prosecute sexual offences within the military. The move comes after a string of high-profile sexual misconduct allegations reaching the highest echelons of the military’s leadership. Some of the cases have gone to criminal trial and the military has also prosecuted members accused of groping in the past.  

Additionally, the CAF has decided to withhold the record of Gale’s summary hearing, citing privacy grounds. According to military rules, a summary hearing “is to be held in public” except if the conducting officer believes “information affecting a person’s privacy or security interest, if that interest outweighs the public’s interest in the information” would be disclosed. However, the conducting officer must provide reasons during the hearing to support these measures. 

When True North attempted to request a copy of the charge report and the conducting officer’s written reasons, DND denied the request. 

“Specific personal information about individuals must be protected in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act, and as such we won’t be providing the documents,” said DND. 

According to Millar, the military hasn’t extended similar courtesies for much less serious allegations.

“My client was not granted the same leniency for much less serious alleged infractions. However, in the case of a transgender offender who held a position of trust as a padre and a senior in rank, the matter was simply swept under the rug,” Millar told True North. 

“This demonstrates a clear inequality within the CAF in how it deals with offences in order to satisfy the desires of its political masters.”

One week before Gale’s summary hearing, the CAF praised Gale as an LGBTQ champion in a lengthy post titled “International Transgender Day of Visibility: An opportunity to honour our transgender community.”

“Contributions like those of Chaplain (Captain) Gale, the Canadian Armed Forces’ first openly transgender chaplain, who has been generous and candid about her coming out journey, are important,” wrote DND. 

“Chaplain Gale has been a vocal advocate for the rights of transgender members in uniform. Her efforts resulted in policy changes that contributed to more inclusive gender-affirming medical care for CAF members.”

Additionally, in 2023 the CAF produced a five-minute video detailing Gale’s transition “from man to woman.” 

“What I bring to the cadets here is the same thing that any other chaplain would. Most of the cadets that I talk to actually don’t see me as transgender. They see me as a chaplain. For me it’s a really humbling role to be able to hear to talk to people and their concerns, their fears,” said Gale.