On Dec. 17, the Department of National Defence announced the creation of an advisory panel to report on systemic racism and discrimination in the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The panel has a wide mandate to investigate systemic racism and discrimination and report by the end of the year on how to end systemic discrimination and unconscious bias.
The panel is made up of four veterans and is titled the Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism, Discrimination, LGBTQ2 Prejudice, Gender Bias and White Supremacy. It includes one of the first female infantry officers, retired major Sandra Perron, who wrote about abuse and discrimination during her military career; Derek Montour, who left the Canadian military after the Oka Crisis and became a U.S. marine sergeant; retired captain D.L Gibson of Victoria; and Ed Fitch, the second Jewish CAF member to attain the rank of major-general.
The panel is to recommend ways to keep racist and white supremacist beliefs out of uniform and to identify changes to policy, process and practice to end discriminatory behaviour.
Panel members will conduct confidential interviews with CAF and DND employees and will be supported by the federal Anti-Racism Secretariat.
Orders have been issued aiming to prevent harassment
The CAF is facing unprecedented criticism following several incidents of members involved with white supremacists or other hate groups, who made racist, neo-Nazi and anti-LGBTQ2 comments, or displayed objectionable tattoos.
Disciplinary action has ranged from being discharged from the forces for involvement in online hate groups to being put on probation, ordered into counselling and renouncing affiliation with hate groups.
Orders have been issued aiming to prevent harassment based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.
For example, the orders prohibit accessing information that promotes hate on workplace computers; belonging to, or participating in activities of, a group encouraging violence or espousing hatred; sharing or endorsing information promoting violence or hatred; acts of violence or intimidation; and displaying tattoos that promote violence or hatred.