An independent external review of harassment and sexual misconduct in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces has been announced.
“It is clear we have not lived up to our responsibility to protect members from harassment and misconduct,” National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in the announcement in April. The review is an initial step in building a system that better responds to complainants while holding perpetrators to account, he added.
Former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour will head the review, which will recommend how an independent reporting system, free from the chain of command, can be established for those affected by misconduct.
In addition to recommending changes that can be made as the review progresses, Arbour is being asked to identify systemic issues and policies and practices in the military that contribute to the current culture and how to go about changing that culture.
The review follows a commitment of $236 million by the federal government for DND, CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada to use in developing a peer-support program for those who have been harmed by sexual misconduct in connection with their military service.
“We are committed to making a lasting change, one that will see the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence shed the toxic and outdated values, practices and policies that have harmed our people. Today’s steps are the beginning of that,” said Sajjan.