Pubdate: Thu, 09 Feb 2017
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Steph Crosier
Page: A1


Despite a completely clean campus always being the goal, top brass at
Royal Military College are pleased with the results of a blind drug
test conducted in mid-October that weren't exactly perfect.

"Having now tangible, fact-based information is really great. It gives
us a good assessment of the current situation," Brig.-Gen. Sean
Friday, commandant of RMC, told the Whig-Standard on Wednesday. "The
whole idea of a blind drug test is so that we can get actual
information to see if our [Canadian Armed Forces] drug control program
at large is succeeding or not."

For the 1,395 RMC Kingston population, a total of 1,220 samples were
collected. Of the 175 people who were not tested, Navy Lt. Jennifer
Fidler, public affairs officer at RMC, told the Whig- Standard in
October that 99.5 per cent were accounted for.

The results showed that 2.2 per cent of military members on the
peninsula tested positive for illicit substances. Of officer cadets,
18 tested positive for marijuana, two for cocaine, four for codeine
and four for morphine. Of those samples, three tested positive for
both codeine and morphine and one tested positive for both marijuana
and cocaine.

Of the non-commissioned members, one tested positive for marijuana and
another for hydromorphone. One commissioned officer tested positive
for amphetamines. The laboratory tested for fentanyl, but there were
no positive results.

When first reported in the Whig-Standard on Oct. 31, officials said
the tests were ordered under the Canadian Armed Forces drug control
program by Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, who was then the commander
of Military Personnel Command and is now commandant of the NATO
Defense College in Rome. Friday said he had been an advocate for the
tests and assisted in the planning process. Friday said that when he
made the announcement, he received a lot of positive feedback from
those at the school.

"Let's replace anecdote and people making assumptions with fact,"
Friday said. "I was quite impressed with the positive reaction that
the officer cadets had when they found out."

Knowledge of the zero-tolerance policy is first presented to an
applicant during the military recruiting phase. This is why the
cadets, though students, are held to the same standard as everyone
else in the Forces, Friday said.

"They are members of the Canadian Forces," Friday said. "They are as
much responsible to upholding the Code of Service Discipline as any
other member of the Canadian Forces. … Yes, they're Canadian
university students, but they are members of the CAF."

The blind drug tests were also conducted at Royal Military College in
Saint-Jean, Que. Those results show that of the 226 samples provided
(100 per cent of the military population of the school), 1.3 per cent,
or three individuals, tested positive for illicit substances, while
one officer cadet tested positive for marijuana, one non-commissioned
officer tested positive for both amphetamine and methamphetamine, and
an officer tested positive for both oxymorphone and oxycodone.

"We are charged with the successful development and education of the
officers of tomorrow, a responsibility that we take very seriously,"
Brig.-Gen. Steve Whelan, current commander of Military Personnel
Generation, said. "We have some of the best and brightest attending
our Military Colleges every year and we want to ensure the safest
environment for them."

Despite the hard zero-tolerance policy, Friday said there is no risk
to a Forces member if they come forward to a doctor and seek
drug-addiction treatment. There are also little to no repercussions if
a member is found in possession or under the influence of an illicit
substance as long as they co-operate with their rehabilitation. The
four facets of the CAF drug control program are education, detection,
treatment and rehabilitation.

"Zero career implications at all. That is the best outcome, for them
to respond positively to the treatment and carry on with their
career," Friday said. "That's what we mean by rehabilitation. It's
intended to be rehabilitative and to get them back and back in
compliance with what the Canadian Forces needs and expects and demands
of them.

"If they respond to that, their career is intact."

At the end of August, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance
ordered Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, then the vice-chief of defence
staff, to oversee an eight-person Special Staff Assistance Visit
(SSAV) team at RMC Kingston. The SSAV started in November, conducted
more than 400 interviews at the college and preliminary findings were
presented to Vance at the end of December. Friday said the SSAV has
been given the results of the drug test, but he doesn't know how they
will use the information.
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