Since Confederation, the Canadian military profession has worked to stay in step with Canadian society. More recently, the focus has been on expanding its membership to best represent Canada’s demographics; the people we serve. It is therefore equally important to recognize past inequities and exclusions in CAF history and traditions, and work to change them. In doing so we realize our ideal Profession of Arms; a highly competent national institution that embodies our ethos – the CAF Ethos.

The Profession of Arms is subordinate to the elected civil authority (i.e. the Government of Canada) and serves only the state. The defence of Canada and its interests is the Canadian Armed Forces’ primary role. Threats to Canadian interests have changed over time, but the fundamental purpose of the Canadian Armed Forces remains the lawful application of military force as requested and authorized by the Government of Canada.

Achieving government objectives requires a considerable level of reciprocal trust between the Government of Canada, the CAF as an institution, the people of Canada and the military personnel who have accepted the inherent risks to health and life in military service. Canadians and the Government expect the CAF to be operationally ready to assist civil authorities during domestic crises such as floods, forest fires, search and rescue operations, and to defend Canadian sovereignty, or even to help advance Canadian interests abroad. Given the CAF monopoly on the lawful application of military force, Canadians trust that CAF personnel will conduct themselves ethically and professionally in all of these activities, as well as off-duty. At the same time, CAF personnel volunteer to serve knowing that the CAF leadership and the Canadian government assume responsibility for their well-being and the well-being of their families.

However, military performance can quickly be overshadowed by inappropriate conduct, which in turn can cause significant damage to the trust that the CAF maintains with Canadians, the Government, and our own serving members.

Individually and collectively, as members of the Profession of Arms, CAF personnel have a duty to uphold the highest standards of conduct both on- and off-duty by being the best example of the CAF Ethos. It follows that this duty requires a commitment from our people to be of strong character.

Even more so now than ever, character is just as important, and indeed often more impactful, than competence.

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