Part II – Leadership

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The profession of arms in Canada can only be exercised in a collective way, under government control, within a single entity: the CAF. For most of its members, the Canadian military is a lifetime career. Compared to other professions, it has a young workforce. Members enroll at an early age and hold senior positions relatively young, after approximately 20 years of service.

Their professional development is one of the CAF’s major investments. The military cannot recruit its leaders from the private sector, let alone from competitors. It is entirely dependent on itself to develop its future leaders in an environment that is at once hierarchical and competitive.

The development of leadership in the CAF is a vast enterprise that occupies a large part of its activities. It is an internally focused, detailed and sophisticated process that is heavily devoted to the management of its members’ careers. That process is responsible for ensuring professional competence as members progress in the organization. Importantly, for the purpose of my Review, it is also responsible for ensuring that it selects the right leaders, those who truly deserve the trust given to them to lead people into harm’s way.


Personnel generation and recruiting functions

The CAF recruitment system as it currently exists has ample room for improvement. To understand its challenges, it is helpful to know how it currently functions.

The CMP provides guidance and policies on all military human resources matters, monitors compliance within the system, and ensures personnel support is aligned and coordinated. The Military Personnel Generation (MILPERSGEN) Group has a more specific mission, which is to lead the CAF personnel generation to ensure a full complement of members in all the different environments and occupations of the CAF.

Meanwhile, the CFRG, which falls under MILPERSGEN, supports the operational capability of the CAF by attracting, processing, selecting and enrolling Canadian recruits into the Reg F, the Cadets Organizations Administration and Training Service, and Indigenous Summer Programs. The CFRG is also responsible for directing reserve applications to the appropriate reserve unit for processingEndnote 814. In addition, the Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs) (ADM(PA)), and more specifically the Director of Marketing and Advertising, are responsible for recruitment advertisingEndnote 815 .

In June 2017, the Government of Canada issued its Defence Policy − Strong, Secure, Engaged. This policy document laid out the CAF’s general personnel goal of increasing its Reg F to 71,500 members and its Res F to 30,000 membersEndnote 816. This represented an increase of approximately 3,500 Reg F members and 1,500 Res F members, as well as 1,150 defence civilians, all over previously-approved levels.

The CAF’s Horizon-One Strategic Intake Plan (SIP) supports the 2017 Defence Policy, and governs the yearly targets for personnel recruitmentEndnote 817. The SIP is issued by MILPERSCOM and is a product of annual military occupational reviews. It identifies the optimal number of people to be recruited into the CAF in the specified yearEndnote 818, to ensure the necessary acquisition and maintenance of the suitable staffing levels in each military occupation for both officers and NCMs.

Additionally, the SIP takes into account the growth and contraction of occupations, size of the basic training list, attrition numbers, and occupational training capacity. As well, the SIP identifies “priority” occupations, which are defined as less than 90% of preferred staffing levels, and “threshold” occupations staffed at 90-95% levels.

Recruiting for the reserves involves a separate process. The reserve units are largely responsible for their own recruiting and basic training, which takes place either at a local unit location or a CAF training centreEndnote 819. The DAOD 5002-1, Enrolment, states that COs of primary reserve units are responsible for assessing their personnel requirements and enrolment vacancies, referring applicants to a recruiting centre to initiate the selection and enrolment process, conducting the prior learning assessment and recognition process, selecting eligible and suitable applicants, and conducting the enrolment ceremony and attestation of applicantsEndnote 820. Currently, the Canadian Army Reserve Endnote 821 conducts all its own recruiting, including processing and medicals. The Naval Reserve also conducts its own recruitment, although the medical screening is facilitated by CFRG. The CFRG processes the applications for candidates interested in the RCAF ReserveEndnote 822.

These various processes may seem well-established and smooth functioning on the surface, but in reality, they require an overhaul. I have been told that the CAF recruiting system is consistently not attracting the right people, for the right roles, at the right time. There are chronic shortages in the same occupations, and with respect to employment equity targetsEndnote 823. Due to shortfalls, particularly with respect to certain occupations, there remains considerable pressure to recruit, train and retain recruits.

Recent recruiting shortfalls and the CAF Reconstitution

Fiscal year 2019-2020 was a fairly typical year, with the CAF recruiting 5,171 new members. In 2020-2021, during the pandemic, the SIP target was 5,400, but only 2,023 recruits were onboarded. I understand that, for 2021-2022, the Reg F intake target was 6,769, but factors, including the pandemic, put a ceiling on the number of recruits that could be trainedEndnote 824. Meanwhile, according to a Canadian Army Today article, the total number of applicants grew significantly to 78,150 in 2020-2021 compared to 60,000 in 2019-2020. Total attrition was also lower than normal in 2020-2021Endnote 825. However, the CAF effectively decreased by 2,300 Reg F members in 2020-21, and currently has a “missing middle” of nearly 10,000 vacant CAF positions, many of which are at the junior officer and senior NCM and officer levels, according to CDS planning guidanceEndnote 826.

As stated by Canadian Army Today, making up for the recruiting shortfall of around 3,000 in 2020-2021 will take years. The CAF’s ability to deliver basic military training and early occupational training has an impact on its ability to onboard unusually high numbers of recruits compared to a normal year. This limits its capacity to adjust quickly when it might be possible or desirable to recruit larger numbers.

In view of the challenging personnel situation, the Acting CDS warned in July 2021 that the pandemic, attrition rates, international developments, and other changing demographics threaten to imperil the CAF’s ability to recruit, train, and retain talent. This threatens in turn the current readiness and long-term health of Canada’s military. As a result, the CDS initiated a “reconstitution” effort under which the CAF will build personnel capacity, readiness, and capabilities, to ensure its ability to protect Canadians and Canadian interestsEndnote 827.

The CAF Reconstitution Plan will form the foundation of the CAF’s activities and priorities over the next several years. It will focus on three areas:

  1. Prioritizing effort and resources on people – to rebuild military strength (i.e., number of personnel) while making much needed changes to aspects of CAF culture;
  2. Readiness – to ensure the CAF’s ability to continue to deliver on operations; and
  3. Modernization – to develop the capabilities and adapt CAF’s structure necessary to address the evolving character of conflict and operations

Key planning tasks for the CAF Reconstitution Plan were identified, including those directly related to the recruiting functionEndnote 829. All CAF Commands were tasked to ensure that GBA+ informs planning activities to enhance diversity and identify new measures or policies to mitigate medium to longer-term risk or negative impact on operations and members’ careers.

The MILPERSCOM was tasked to enhance recruiting capabilities, in order to fulfill both operational needs and diversity aspirations, and identify specific occupational gaps to inform prioritization of recruitment. The MILPERSCOM was also tasked to oversee streamlining component transfer, for example transferring from the Res F to the Reg FEndnote 830, and the reserve re-enrolment processes. In addition, the MILPERSCOM was tasked to lead the implementation and streamlining of decentralized basic military qualification training (this decentralization is an interim measure intended to last until basic training is recentralized within MILPERSCOM by 2022-23, with limited exceptions). The MILPERSCOM and the CPCC were jointly tasked with implementing the Women in Uniform Action Team and ensuring that all personnel generation efforts are shaped by meaningful culture change efforts.

The CAF recruitment process is cumbersome

The CAF recruits and trains candidates in their chosen occupation. Canadians can join the CAF as either officers or NCMs. Officers hold a “commission” and are responsible for planning, leading, and managing military operations and training activities in the CAF. They typically have university degrees, which are required for many officer occupations. Officers can join under the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) and be selected to attend military college or a civilian university. They can also join through the Direct Entry Officer Plan (DEO)Endnote 831 if they already hold the appropriate university degree for their desired occupation. Officer occupations include, for example, pilot, aeronautical engineer, air combat systems officer, naval warfare officer, naval combat systems engineering officer, infantry/artillery/armoured officer, and logistics/legal/intelligence officer.

NCMs are subordinate in rank to officers and do not require a university education. NCM occupations can include marine technician, infantry soldier, sonar operator, cyber operator, aviation systems technician, and medical laboratory technologist, to name a few. NCMs who demonstrate the military experience and personal qualities required for service as officers can eventually be commissioned from the ranks and become officers under the Commissioning from the Ranks PlanEndnote 832. They may also become officers through the University Training Plan for NCMsEndnote 833 and be offered subsidized undergraduate education.

Candidates interested in joining the CAF may apply onlineEndnote 834, or attend one of the CAF recruiting centres across Canada. Certain steps in the application process such as the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test (CFAT) and required medical examination are done in personEndnote 835. CFRG personnel also travel to increase this outreach, and to conduct the CFAT, interviews and medical testing. In addition, the CAF covers certain expenses for applicants who have to travel a long distance to get to a detachment/recruiting center.

The recruitment process involves the following steps:

  1. Applicants submit an application onlineEndnote 836;
  2. Applicants submit required personal documentationEndnote 837;
  3. Reliability screening:
  4. Applicants fill out reliability screening forms.
  5. The CAF conducts reliability screening.
  6. This includes criminal record and background checks.
  7. The CFATEndnote 838:
  8. Applicants complete a series of three aptitude tests. Applicants are tested on verbal and problem-solving skills, and spatial ability.
  9. This test is conducted in person at a Canadian Forces Recruiting CentreEndnote 839.
  10. The CAF is working on implementing a virtual CFAT that can be administered remotely.
  11. The CFAT is a pass/fail test that screens out the lower 10% of applicants. The CFAT score is used to determine if an applicant is suitable for their occupation of choiceEndnote 840.
  12. Adaptive Personality Test:
  13. An Adaptive Personality Test is currently being developed and tested for use in future CAF selection proceduresEndnote 841.
  14. Applicants are asked to complete an online personality inventory, which provides information on personal characteristics and qualities.
  15. Medical examination:
  16. The Recruit Medical Office (RMO), part of the Director General Health Services, is responsible for the medical screening of applicants.
  17. CAF medical staff at a Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre will conduct a physical examEndnote 842, including measuring height and weight, evaluating vision and colour perception, and hearing. Applicants also complete a questionnaire on medical history, including specific information on medication.
  18. The medical file is then reviewed centrally by an RMO medical officer to determine the applicant’s medical eligibility and identify any limitations that could affect their training and career.
  19. In some cases, a follow-up with an outside specialist is required. This can take additional time.
  20. InterviewEndnote 843:
  21. An interview with a Military Career Counsellor (MCC) assesses the applicant’s personal qualities and life experiences.
  22. The interview is conducted either in person at a CFRG Detachment or virtually.
  23. During the interview portion of personal circumstances, the MCC covers eligibility and suitability criteria including discrimination and harassment policies, and the use of non-prescribed drugs, cannabis and alcohol use. Statements of Understanding on these policies are reviewed and signed by the applicant.
  24. The CAF will assess its needs and prepare a competition/merit list based on the applications and the CAF Recruiting Plan.
  25. Selected applicants receive an offer for engagement with the CAF.
  26. Prior to enrollment, applicants sign a Variable Initial Engagement (VIE) agreement.

Figure 5 is a flowchart summarizing the military recruitment process, extracted from the 2019 Advisory of the Military Recruitment Process November ReportEndnote 844.

Figure 5 is a flowchart summarizing the military recruitment process, extracted from the 2019 Advisory of the Military Recruitment Process November Report

  • Figure 5 Long Description
    • Attraction
      • Performed by DMA and CFRG HQ
        • Generating awareness
          • Advertising
          • Community events
          • Digital and Social Media
    • Military Recruitment Process
      • Performed by CFRG HQ
        • Application Submitted
          • Determines entry path
          • Assigns applicant to nearest Recruitment Centre
      • Performed by recruitment Centre
        • Prospect Testing
          • Age, Citizenship, Education confirmation
          • Aptitude Testing
          • Non-prescription drug declaration
      • Performed by Various Stakeholders
        • Application Assessment
          • Medical Assessment and Recruit Medical Office
          • Interview
          • Reliability Screening begins
      • Performed by CFRG HQ
        • Final Processing
          • Merit List
          • Selection
          • Offer
      • Performed by Recruitment Centre
        • Enrolment
    • Training
      • Performed by MILPERSCOM and the Environments
        • BMQ/BMOQ & Occupation Training

*BMQ – Basic Military Qualification, BMOQ – Basic Military Officer Qualification

Applicants to the CAF must be “of good character.” This is determined in part by attaining an enhanced reliability status in accordance with the National Defence Security Policy. The DAOD 5002-1, Enrolment, also explicitly states that applicants must comply with CAF policies concerning sexual misconduct, alcohol-related misconduct, harassment, drugs and racism. In addition, applicants must not have outstanding obligations under the judicial systemEndnote 845.

After testing, medical exam and interview are complete, the CFRG prepares a competition/merit list based on the applications and the CAF Recruiting Plan. This list takes into account training availability, as the CAF cannot take on recruits who cannot be trained in a reasonable timeframe. Qualified applicants are selected for specific occupations and entry plans, and are then given an offer of employment within that occupation.

Enrolment, or onboarding, into the CAF involves three phasesEndnote 846. They include a pre-enrolment interview (separate from the application interview), an enrolment documentation briefing, and then finally an enrolment ceremonyEndnote 847.

An MCC or Witnessing Officer will conduct the one-on-one interview on the scheduled enrolment date and complete the CF 92 Pre-enrolment/Transfer Statement of Understanding and Update. This step confirms the applicant’s personal circumstances and ensures they fully understand CAF policies surrounding their employment. The Statements of Understanding previously signed by the applicant, including the Statement of Understanding of the summary of CAF policies on discrimination and harassment, are verified during pre-enrolment, and are confirmed by an MCC or Witnessing Officer during the interview. The CF 92 is then signed by both the MCC/Witnessing Officer and applicantEndnote 848. While the CF 92 form does not include any agreement to abide by the CAF sexual misconduct policy, applicants expressly agree in their Statement of Understanding that they will comply fully with the CAF’s policy on discrimination, harassment and professional conduct. They also acknowledge that failure to do so may lead to disciplinary and/ or administrative action, including release.

Finally, the enrolment ceremony involves taking an oath or making a solemn affirmation. It is a traditional, formal event, where candidates are encouraged to invite family and friends as witnesses.

It is widely recognized, even by the Commander of the MILPERSGEN GroupEndnote 849 , that the current recruitment process is cumbersome. Laden with steps and hoops to jump through, applicants experience significant delays throughout the process. The following observations make it clear that the system is flawed and unwieldy:

  1. Canada’s Defence Policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged highlights a recruiting system that is too slow to compete in Canada’s competitive labour market and does not effectively communicate the rewarding employment opportunities availableEndnote 850;
  2. Recruiting processes are suboptimal with delays at various points, in particular when conducting the CFAT, the medical exam and review, and the reliability status clearancesEndnote 851. The CFAT is normally completed before the applicant is scheduled for a medical or interviewEndnote 852, but some processes can take place concurrently if they are scheduled on the same day (for instance, for applicants who have travelled a far distance)Endnote 853;
  3. CFRG calculated that the average processing delay for enrolment in the CAF has increased in the last three years to well over 300 days from “ready for testing” to “enrolled”Endnote 854. The median processing days for the process from the completion of the CFAT to enrolment is 103 days;Endnote 855 and
  4. The medical screening is a particular bottleneck. I was informed that, currently, there is a four-month backlog, which represents the biggest delay in the recruitment process, as the medical file is suspended until a medical officer reviews it. In a 2019 Advisory of the Military Recruitment Process report, the RMO’s medical screening and review accounted for approximately 33% of the total delayEndnote 856. I was also told by some recruits that security clearances took considerable time, especially for those who have lived or were born outside Canada.

The CFAT has not been recently validated, and given the modern expectations of a newer generation and potential changes in CAF requirements, this test may be out of date and require re-evaluationEndnote 857.

The 2017 SSAV Report on RMC Kingston recommended that the CFAT be re-validated as soon as practicable and every five years thereafterEndnote 858. It is troubling that Indigenous applicants have been shown to score more poorly on the CFAT compared to non-Indigenous people, indicating potential test biasEndnote 859. Similarly, a concern was raised during my visit to the RMC Kingston that the CFAT may not be compliant with GBA+ and, specifically, that female varsity athletes enrol only to be screened out by the CFAT, despite having been assessed as academically suitable to attend the college by the Registrar’s office. Further, a 2020 DRDC study concluded the following:

  1. Male and female applicants demonstrated similar CFAT pass rates at the 10th percentile cut-off;
  2. There are larger differences in pass rates between male and female applicants at the higher percentile cut-off (i.e., 30th percentile); and
  3. Male applicants had higher total CFAT scores on average, compared to female applicants, which appears to be driven primarily by the “problem-solving” sub-test results, which are not inconsistent with mainstream findings showing gender differences in mathematical problem solvingEndnote 860.

This 2020 study recommended that the CAF conduct a differential item functioning analysis to scientifically prove or disprove gender bias of the CFAT.

Notably, current CAF recruiting processes do not formally screen candidates for issues and attitudes related to cultural diversity and sexual harassment/misconduct, although these issues are discussed during the interview.

Efforts by the CAF to recruit women

In 2016, the CDS directed the CAF to increase its population of women by 1% annually, towards a goal of 25% by 2026Endnote 861. However, according to the CAF Employment Equity Report for 2020-21, women currently represent 16% of the Reg F, 16.9% of the P Res, and 16.3% of the CAF togetherEndnote 862. Enrolment of women over the last five years has hovered at approximately 17%, according to CAF data, with the exception of 2020-21 (which may be due to the pandemic)Endnote 863. I understand that approximately 28% of applicants are women, but because 65% of women apply for the same support-related occupations, they cannot all be enrolledEndnote 864. The CAF is more successful in recruiting women for the military colleges and can meet the 25% goal for that demographic. It consistently attracts more women as officers, as a proportion of total officers, than as NCMs. For example, according to CAF data, in 2020-21, 25.9% of the officer intake were women. However, only 14.8% of the NCM intake were women. As a result, the total percentage intake in 2021-22 representing women was 17.4%Endnote 865.

In 2017, in an effort to move toward CAF’s overall 25% goal, a CFRG Tiger Team focus group produced a comprehensive list of issues and recommendations, including systemic and tactical, aimed at increasing the number of women enrolling in the CAFEndnote 866. For example:

  1. Redefine the “family unit” to ensure that CAF policies and allowances reflect contemporary realities and don’t discourage women with family concerns from considering the CAF as a career; and
  2. Ensure advertising to the Canadian public includes showcasing the CAF in humanitarian assistance roles, the restorative side of missions, and safe living conditions during deployments.

I understand that this Tiger Team report has had some influence, but was not adopted by the CAF and its recommendations were not formally tracked or implementedEndnote 867.

The Advisory of the Military Recruitment Process was subsequently set up as part of the ADM(RS) Risk-Based Audit Plan for fiscal years 2018-19 to 2020-21. The advisory extracted a representative sample of CAF application files for in-depth process tracking. It conducted interviews with key personnel to determine if attraction strategies and the recruitment process supported the CAF in achieving its targets. The advisory also examined whether enrolment processing times had been reduced. In its November 2019 report, confirming that the CAF is not meeting its priority occupation or gender diversity targets, the advisory made additional recommendationsEndnote 868. Among others, the advisory recommended that the MILPERSCOM and the ADM(PA) develop a joint national attraction agreement to document roles and responsibilities between the two organizations, as well as potential for collaboration. It also recommended developing and collecting metrics on attraction activities, to assist in more informed decision making. In addition, the advisory suggested that better tracking and understanding of applicant drop-off rates at key steps in the recruiting process would allow the CAF to better support gender diversity and broader inclusivity.

Most recently, Deloitte completed a comprehensive review of recruitment and how to implement necessary changes. It recommended the following:

  1. Shift to a proactive recruitment operating model focused on efficiency and candidate experience;
  2. Define the CAF’s talent value proposition and employer brand strategy;
  3. Move recruitment marketing and attraction strategy from “screening out” to “screening in” through personalization;
  4. Leverage leading marketing and attraction practices to increase applicants, as well as diversity in applicants by reducing the barriers to applying;
  5. Improve the performance measurement framework to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of recruiting activities and move towards data-driven decision-making for its recruitment function;
  6. Streamline the medical screening process; and
  7. Trial a medical screening process to demonstrate the opportunities and impediments to operating a fully digital recruitment processEndnote 869.

Additional concerns with recruitment

Talent identification and development is vital to successful culture change within an organizationEndnote 870. Ultimately, the recruitment arm of the CAF will continue to falter if bottlenecks in its multi-layered processes persist. Securing the best talent should be a top priority, and to do this the CAF must address the problematic complexity of its recruitment strategy, otherwise choice candidates will seek opportunities elsewhere. With the ongoing depletion of CAF personnel, an additional dilemma presents itself. The CAF can only recruit as many people as it can train. It is a vicious circle. With fewer trainers at hand, the recruitment process is bogged down. As part of the reconstitution effort, the CAF is currently exploring options for scaling up capacity, including instructor supply at the CFLRS, decentralizing recruit training, and enlisting the reserves in support of recruitment and/or trainingEndnote 871. However, if scarce personnel resources are redirected to the training function, this may also impact the availability of adequate personnel for domestic and international operations. It is a delicate balance, with decisions being made largely at the political level. Meanwhile, the future of female recruitment to the CAF is not encouraging. Both the CFRG and the Commander of MILPERSGEN have told me there is little to no chance that the CAF will reach 25% women representation by 2026Endnote 872. In fact, none of my interlocutors have suggested this target can realistically be met.

Both the CFRG and the Commander of MILPERSGEN have told me there is little to no chance that the CAF will reach 25% women representation by 2026. In fact, none of my interlocutors have suggested this target can realistically be met.

Female applicants to the CAF are largely drawn to support role positions (logistics officer, material management technician, human resources administrator, medical/dental technician, medical officer, nursing officer, intelligence officer, financial services administrator, steward, cook, etc.) and a limited number of Air Force occupations (aerospace engineering and aerospace control officers)Endnote 873. I understand that these positions account for only 33% of the total SIPEndnote 874.

A large contributing factor to women being drawn to these types of roles is that these are occupations which traditionally feature women. This reflects the wider trend in universities and the marketplace where women tend to congregate in, or are led into, traditionally female-dominated occupations.

Because the number of available support positions is outweighed by the number of female applicants, women are ultimately turned away. This scenario would be much different if more women were applying for roles traditionally dominated by men. This may be a difficult trend to reverse.

The dearth of female recruits, particularly in the male-dominated occupations, is not a result of poor effort on the part of recruitment centres. Quite the contrary. The centres strive to redirect women applicants to the occupations where they are most needed. We were told by several women recruits that they were advised to choose infantry or armour, as it was a sure-fire way to get accepted. Unfortunately, one senior officer said that even if the CFRG could recruit 25% women for combat arms occupations, the resistance of the combat arms community to those women recruits would make it difficult for that many women to be included in its ranks.

Women were admitted into the combat arms as a result of the Combat Related Employment of Women trials in 1987 and a CHRT order in 1989, as I set out in the section on the History of Women in the CAFEndnote 875. Since that time, their struggles have been exposed in many testimonies, including Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada’s First Female Infantry Officer, by Sandra Perron.

Not surprisingly, these entrenched barriers, combined with a history of sexual misconduct and a hostile, unwelcoming environment, can be a serious deterrent to women.

Antiquated stereotypes and sexist assumptions play a large part in the difficult integration of women into the combat arms community. Faced with scepticism about their physical capabilities or perceived difficulties with balancing work and family, many women may not even contemplate that type of work.

Not surprisingly, these entrenched barriers, combined with a history of sexual misconduct and a hostile, unwelcoming environment, can be a serious deterrent to women.

Several CAF members who reached out to me, including high-ranking officers, admitted they have doubts about staying with the CAF, and would advise their daughters not to join. Female Naval/Officer Cadets (N/OCdts) told us that they faced concern and opposition from friends and family about their intention to join an organization with such a toxic culture. On the other hand, many also said they wanted to join precisely in order to make a difference for other women – to play a small part in effecting change.

Onboarding and early training

The challenges of attracting more women to the CAF are not limited to recruitment alone. I have also learned that the way the CAF trains its new members, including BMQ and BMOQ as well as the initial occupation training, is not without its flaws. I have heard concerns about:

  1. the amount of pay and allowances received while on basic and other training;
  2. the length of time new members need to wait before, and in between, training courses;
  3. the fact that the CAF typically sends young recruits far away from where they were recruited without giving them adequate information, preparation or financial support (which is particularly problematic for young parents or young married persons); and
  4. the physical fitness standard required and whether it remains appropriate, particularly in the many occupations that do not require the same level of fitness as one would require and expect to maintain in a deployment.

These are all potential barriers to attracting otherwise good candidates to the CAF, especially women.

Recruiting the appropriate number of new members is only one dimension of the current reconstitution effortEndnote 876. The quality of recruits is arguably an even more important consideration todayEndnote 877. In the CAF’s current culture, and the culture to which it aspires, it is more important than ever to be able to attract, identify, and retain the right kind of people. This includes those with the potential to become good soldiers, aviators and sailors, but also those with the capacity to meet the moral and ethical expectations of the modern CAF. In order to properly capture these essential qualities, the recruiting and training experience needs to be reframed and adjusted, including through a screening strategy that weeds out those who do not meet expectationsEndnote 878.

There are opposing views with respect to early attrition. Some stakeholders believe the CAF should recruit the maximum number of recruits and then be ready to release recruits and junior members who do not meet the current ethical standards or display appropriate personality traits. Others believe that additional tools such as open source background verificationsEndnote 879 should be used prior to enrolment, as a way to ease the administrative burden of releasing a problem member later on.

Once new members sign the VIE during the recruitment process, they are bound to serve the CAF until lawfully released. The VIE contains a statement of the length of the initial engagement – usually three years – but can be longer for certain occupations and training plans. At the end of the VIE, members are usually offered a follow-on engagement, unless a formal administrative process is used to release the memberEndnote 880. The current CAF policy, as set out in Canadian Forces Military Personnel Instructions, does not permit the CAF to release a member who has demonstrated conduct failures, including those subject to a criminal conviction, simply by failing to offer new follow-on Terms of Service (TOS) upon expiry of their current TOS. The policy also requires the DMCA to conduct an administrative review if a member is not offered a follow-on TOS, to determine the reason, take corrective action, and direct whether TOS are to be offered to the memberEndnote 881.

The CAF should shorten its recruitment and onboarding processes

From the CAF reconstitution perspective, a holistic, system-wide effort is needed to increase the recruitment and long-term retention of properly-trained members with high morals, ethics, and potential. The CAF would benefit from re-adjusting its long-standing procedures in order to considerably shorten the onboarding process. This would create more leeway for observation and, if necessary, early release, through conditional offers of employment or a formal probation period.

A modernized recruitment process could establish a probationary period, which would permit the CAF to expedite the enrolment process, allow more in-depth evaluation during training, and also more flexibility to release members during or at the end of the probationary period.

This shift would require some structural adjustments. Presently, new recruits become full-fledged CAF members upon swearing-in, complete with full salary, benefits and computation towards pensionable public service. This includes the right to an administrative review and its promise of procedural fairness, prior to any final decision to release if a member’s TOS are not renewed. The current system relies heavily on the pre-enrolment process to make appropriate selections. The length of this process has become a disincentive for many strong candidates to join, and it is ill-adapted to the evaluation of character that is critical to a healthy organizational culture.

On releasing members, the DAOD 5019-4, Remedial Measures, already recognizes that a member awaiting or undergoing basic officer or recruit training can be released “immediately in accordance with QR&O Chapter 15, Release, for a conduct deficiency,” presumably without the same administrative burden and requirement for a progression of remedial measures to which a long-term member of the CAF might be entitledEndnote 882.

Considering the time it takes for the CAF to train its members, the end of the VIE could also be considered an appropriate point to determine whether to end a member’s service, within appropriate parameters and with procedural fairness safeguards in place.

Recommendation #20

The CAF should restructure and simplify its recruitment, enrolment and basic training processes in order to significantly shorten the recruitment phase and create a probationary period in which a more fulsome assessment of the candidates can be performed, and early release effected, if necessary.

The time required to recruit candidates using the existing cumbersome system is seriously problematic and out of step with modern human resources practices.

The CAF also needs to recognize they are in close competition with civilian employers who are vying for the same personnel. The time required to recruit candidates using the existing cumbersome system is seriously problematic and out of step with modern human resources practices. In addition, especially given the current and projected personnel shortages in the CAF, the recruitment function ties up hundreds of trained CAF members who are not experts in recruitingEndnote 883. As well, it can be argued that frontline CAF recruiters are not always the best role models to attract potential recruits. For example, some recruitment centres have no female recruitment staff or MCCsEndnote 884. With this, consideration should be given to outsourcing administrative recruitment functions to civilians in the DND or external competencies. This would have two potential advantages. It would reduce the drain of CAF personnel into the recruiting function, freeing those personnel for operational duties and helping to fill the shortages that currently exist elsewhere. And it could increase the competence level of the recruiters. Recruiters with existing experience could be hired, and the civilianization of the recruiting function would enable those employed to stay in their positions for longer and gain long-term experience in the role. Meanwhile, efforts should be concentrated on presenting a more modern and competent face of the CAF to potential candidates, in line with its more polished advertising.

Recommendation #21

The CAF should outsource some recruitment functions so as to reduce the burden on CAF recruiters, while also increasing the professional competence of recruiters.

CAF members must understand obligations with respect to sexual misconduct early on

In the CF 92 Pre-enrolment form, recruits agree to be bound by the drug policy and the physical fitness standards of the CAF, and acknowledge they could be released for breaching the drug policy or for failing to meet physical fitness standards. Prior to enrolment, they also sign a Statement of Understanding certifying they have read and understood a summary of the CAF Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, and Professional Conduct, and understand that they could be subject to disciplinary and/or administrative action, including release, for breach of the policyEndnote 885. This Statement of Understanding summarizes prohibited conduct, including the following:

Racism, personal or sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and abuse of authority. This includes actions, language or jokes which perpetuate stereotypes or modes of thinking that devalue persons based on personal characteristics including race, colour, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical characteristic, or mannerisms.

Prohibited statements include those which express racism, sexism, misogyny, violence, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism and discriminatory views with respect to particular religions or faiths.

The CF 92 Pre-enrollment form should be amended to reflect the expectation that new members comply with the CAF policies on discrimination, harassment and professional conduct, as well as the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics, and that failure to do so could result in immediate release. At the very least, it would signal that these issues are as important to the CAF as physical fitness standards. A process of expedited release should be put in place to address clear breaches of the policies during basic training or at the end of a probationary period, so as to reduce the CAF’s investment in unsuitable members. Expressions, by words or actions, of a racist, homophobic or misogynistic attitude, should be addressed early on. Taking a cue from their competence with instilling discipline, the CAF should apply similar efforts to detecting these unacceptable attitudes and behaviours. It should also reflect on whether these can as easily be corrected as deficiencies in technical skills or discipline.

The CAF should reconsider the timing of the various recruitment screening tests

During the first two weeks of basic training, recruits undertake a practice and then the formal FORCE Evaluation fitness test that includes a sandbag lift, intermittent loaded shuttles, a sandbag drag and 20-metre rushes. Recruits must pass this test in order to continue with basic training. They may be offered an additional 90 days of fitness training to pass the FORCE Evaluation, which, if they fail, signals immediate release from the CAF.

I believe the same stringent approach should be applied when evaluating other important qualifications and behaviours. Given the recruiting shortfalls and the desire to recruit the best, the CAF should consider the advantages of pushing the CFAT, required medical testing, and medical follow-up and/or reliability screening to after the onboarding point.

Failing that, adding additional vetting mechanisms to the existing process might be available, but would likely increase the complexity of the already inefficient recruitment procedures. It is not entirely clear what more could be done to effectively screen out undesirable candidates, although the CPCC is actively investigating such tools. A recent external review of sexual harassment in the RCMP concluded that the RCMP mustEndnote 886:

  1. Conduct effective and detailed background checks on applicants’ views on diversity and women;
  2. Eliminate those who are not able to function with women, Indigenous people, racialized minorities or LGBTQ2+ persons and are unwilling to accept the principles of equality and equal opportunity for all; and
  3. Screening must consider all incidents of harassment and domestic violence.

However, questions remain about ways to screen for inappropriate or dangerous beliefs, morals, and cultural views. In the absence of such tools, a probationary period offers a good alternative.

Recommendation #22

The CAF should put new processes in place to ensure that problematic attitudes on cultural and gender-based issues are both assessed and appropriately dealt with at an early stage, either pre- or post-recruitment.


These proposals are aimed at addressing the dual part of my mandate: sexual misconduct and leadership. I have focused here on attracting women and an effective and sustainable way to serve in the CAF. The solution to the problem of the inadequate recruitment of women is not simple. This is not something that mere re-branding can remedy. The problem is a systemic one that will require the concentrated efforts of the CAF as a whole. Until deep culture change takes place and the reputation of the CAF is repaired, recruiting women will continue to be a challenge.

Military Training and Professional Military Education

Current situation

The CAF training program is a substantive and well-developed system that delivers training to its members in all manner of trades and occupations. The CDA and the CAF training schools each have a role in developing and delivering this. The subjects of ethics, military ethos, harassment and sexual misconduct (including the Operation HONOUR-developed training) are now taught widely to existing and new members alike. These themes are regularly revisited as members continue training throughout their careers.

The CDA falls within MILPERSCOMEndnote 887. The CDA is the CAF training authority for common professional development training and education, such as leadership and ethical content. It is the organizational umbrella for the education group comprising the military colleges, the CFC and the Osside Institute.

The Canadian Forces Professional Development System program spans the careers of officers and NCMs in the CAF, and is a sequential development process of education, training and self-developmentEndnote 888. It provides a continuous learning environment to develop and enhance the capabilities and leadership of CAF members. This program of education is partially self-administered and based on materials produced by and for the CDA. There are five Developmental Periods (DP) in the careers of officers and NCMs alike, namely DP 1 – DP 5. For example, the BMOQ course for officers and the BMQ course for NCMs are both part of DP 1. Similarly, the syllabus for the Joint Command and Staff Programme (JCSP) given at the CFC in Toronto is drawn upon appropriate elements of the Officer Professional Military Education DP 3.

The Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School

The CFLRS is responsible for conducting basic military training for all Reg F officers and NCMs joining the CAF, as well as some Res F members. It is also responsible for some subsequent professional development programs for officers and NCMs. The CFLRS website indicates that it trains approximately 5,000 new members each year, and an additional 3,000 military members train with the CFLRS via distance learningEndnote 889. There is a ceiling to the school’s ability to conduct basic training in terms of numbers. This lack of capacity to train recruits is in part responsible for some of the current shortcomings in recruitment and limits the CAF’s ability to onboard a significantly greater number of new recruits in any given year. The pandemic has had a temporary impact on the school’s ability to conduct basic training, and the school trained only a portion of their typical numbers in 2020-21. As per its website, the CFLRS employs more than 600 military and civilian employees.

N/OCdts entering the CAF will all attend the BMOQ at the Saint-Jean Garrison, including ROTP and DEO N/OCdtsEndnote 890. The course lasts seven to 14 weeks, depending on whether cadets go to Military College, are in the Commissioning from the Ranks Plan, or are DEOs. The BMQ, the parallel basic course for non-commissioned recruits, lasts 10 weeks.

This basic military training teaches Canadian military ethos, including the Canadian military values of duty, integrity, loyalty, courage and the Canadian values of respecting the dignity of all persons, diversity, obeying and supporting lawful authorityEndnote 891. The training also covers the CAF diversity strategy, as well as harassment prevention and resolution. Classes involve ethical scenarios, guided discussions, and the consequences of non-compliance with directives and policies, such as disciplinary measures and administrative measures, including the release from the CAF. Training also discusses CAF tools available to all members, such as the RitCAF mobile application, the Defence Ethics Program websiteEndnote 892, the Member Assistance Program, and the availability of ethics and harassments counsellors.

With respect to sexual misconduct at the CFLRS, the then-CSRT-SM asked DGMPRA to administer the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF) to N/OCdts in BMOQ and recruits in BMQ, because they were not administered this survey by Statistics Canada. In 2018, DGMPRA analyzed the results of the BMQ survey, and in 2019 it analyzed the results of the BMOQ survey. DGMPRA concluded that approximately 1% of BMOQ respondents and 2.2% of BMQ respondents reported having experienced sexual assault. In total, 86.4% of N/OCdts at BMOQ and 91.2% of recruits at BMQ reported having witnessed or experienced sexualized behaviour. The most common type of behaviour reported by both groups was sexual jokes. While 37.8% of N/OCdts reported having experienced sexualized behaviour during BMOQ, 49% of BMQ recruits reported same. DGMPRA also concluded that both N/OCdts and recruits who had witnessed HISB did not always take action. The two most common reasons for not taking action included being unsure of whether the target of the behaviour was really at risk and being unsure of whether it was necessary to take actionEndnote 893.

In terms of continuing to capture this type of data at CFLRS and being able to assess progress in this area, I have been told that CFLRS currently distributes end of course questionnaires asking candidates about their overall experience. These questionnaires are called “training climate assessments” and are filled out anonymously. While there is room for complaints of any nature, they were not meant to specifically query reported or unreported sexual misconduct incidents. Given the high numbers in the SSMCAF survey, the CFLRS should be continuing to monitor for incidents of sexual misconduct, perhaps including the use of anonymous questionnairesEndnote 894.

The Canadian Forces College

CFC continues the leadership training for the CAF’s more senior officer cadre. CFC’s mission is to prepare “selected senior Canadian Armed Forces officers, international military, and public service and private sector leaders, for joint command and staff appointments or future strategic responsibilities within a complex global security environmentEndnote 895.” The CFC offers a number of intensive residential and distance learning programs directed at senior officer ranks and senior members of governments. These programs provide additional formal leadership training and more in-depth training on defence ethics, gender and diversity issues, as well as Operation HONOUR content related to sexual misconduct.

The programs include:

  1. Joint Staff Operations Programme for captains, naval lieutenants, majors, and lieutenant-commanders who are, or will be, employed for the first time at operational or strategic-level headquartersEndnote 896;
  2. JCSP designed to prepare selected senior officers of the Defence Team at the major and lieutenant-colonel rank levels and naval equivalents for command or staff appointments in the future operating environment. Students at JCSP may apply for the Master of Defence Studies program given by RMC KingstonEndnote 897 ; and
  3. National Security Programme for colonels, navy captains, officers of similar rank from allied nations, and senior public servants and internationals, a 10-month residential programEndnote 898.

In the JCSP, which is part of CAF’s Officer DP 3,Endnote 899 officers receive about 20 hours of formal training on leadership content related to the themes of ethics, military culture, and diversityEndnote 900. The CAF Ethos teachings include the Canadian Military values of duty, integrity, loyalty, courage (especially in the face of observing a wrongdoing), stewardship, excellence, serving Canada before self, and the Canadian values of respecting the dignity of all persons, diversity, obeying and supporting lawful authorityEndnote 901. Like the CFLRS, classes include discussion of ethical scenarios. In addition, the JCSP covers issues focused on aligning military culture with broader society, the linkages between different facets of diversity and military identity and culture, GBA+ perspectives, practical approaches for applying cultural awareness to ensure leadership effectiveness, and gender-based analysis in operational planning.

The Osside Institute

The Osside Institute is dedicated to the education of senior NCMs and runs a number of courses, which are currently given online, or via residential and/or distance learning (or a hybrid). Training programs such as the Intermediate Leadership Programme, Advanced Leadership Programme, Senior Leadership Programme, and Senior Appointment Programme,Endnote 902 are given depending on the member’s rank. For example, the Intermediate Leadership Programme is for members who are prospective Chief Petty Officers 1st class and Chief Warrant Officers, and is intended to prepare them for leadership, management and supervisory roles associated with that rank.

Military ethos and ethics

Military ethos and ethics training is a recurring part of foundational and leadership training for all CAF members. The CAF builds upon this training as officers evolve in their careers through their DPs. Duty with Honour was the foundational text that described Canada’s military ethos. The CAF is currently updating its military ethos and is finalizing a document titled The Canadian Armed Forces Ethos: Trusted to Serve.

The CAF recognizes that the military must be imbued with the Canadian values that animate a free, democratic and tolerant society. Military ethos comprises four essential Canadian military values namely duty, loyalty, integrity and courageEndnote 903. The newly updated military ethos, which I received in draft form, restates the vision as three ethical principles, six military values, and eight professional expectations. A matrix of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours will provide examples of behaviours related to each value, including the new values of inclusion and accountability.

The value of loyalty, especially to one’s comrades and the institution, appears to frequently come into conflict with the value of integrity, as evidenced by the fact that blatant and longstanding problematic behaviours have gone unreported and unaddressed over multiple decades.

These core military values are intended to guide CAF members at all times in their decisions. The value of integrity is arguably the military value that most aligns the ethical obligations of members, as set out in the DND and CAF Code of Values and EthicsEndnote 904, to the military ethos. It calls for honesty, the avoidance of deception, adherence to high ethical standards, and adherence to established codes of conduct and institutional valuesEndnote 905. Leaders and commanders, in particular, must demonstrate integrity because of the powerful effect personal example has on their peers and subordinates. The value of loyalty, especially to one’s comrades and the institution, appears to frequently come into conflict with the value of integrity, as evidenced by the fact that blatant and longstanding problematic behaviours have gone unreported and unaddressed over multiple decades. These issues only became fully and publicly apparent through disclosures in the media, class action lawsuits and formal external audits and reviews.

Sexual misconduct and related training

The Deschamps Report made the following findings regarding the CAF training related to sexual misconduct at that time:

Members of the CAF receive mandatory training at regular intervals, including on prohibited sexual conduct. As a practical matter, however, this training does not seem to have any significant impact. A large number of participants reported that the classes are not taken seriously: harassment training is laughed at, the course is too theoretical, and training on harassment gets lost among the other topics covered. Power-point training is dubbed “death by power-point”, and training on-line is severely criticized. A number of interviewees also expressed scepticism about unit-led training: there is a common view that in many cases the trainers were themselves complicit in the prohibited conduct. Participants reported that COs are insufficiently trained and that they are unable to appropriately define, assess and address sexual harassment.

Overall, the ERA found that the training currently being provided is failing to inform members about appropriate conduct, or to inculcate an ethical culture in the CAF. Rather, current training lacks credibility and further perpetuates the view that the CAF does not take sexual harassment and assault seriouslyEndnote 906.

The Deschamps Report made the following recommendations to address sexual misconducts:

Training on inappropriate sexual conduct should be a stand-alone topic and should be carried out by skilled professionals in small groups utilizing interactive techniques. Unit-led training should be limited, and on-line training should only be used for non-commissioned members when accompanied by interactive training. Leaders should also be required to undertake regular training on inappropriate sexual conduct and their responsibilities under the relevant policies. Training for military police should include a focus on victim support, interviewing techniques, and the concept of consent. Physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains would also benefit from increased training on how to support victims of inappropriate sexual conductEndnote 907.

In response to the Deschamps Report, Operation HONOUR training, specifically content addressing the issue of sexual misconduct, was developed and communicated broadly across the CAF since the launch of Operation HONOUR in August 2015. As set out in the DAOD 9005-1, Sexual Misconduct Response, “COs or their delegates must provide Operation HONOUR training and education on an annual basis in accordance with their annual training planEndnote 908.” The CAF announced on 24 March 2021, that Operation HONOUR “has culminated and is being gradually closed out”Endnote 909. This content is to be incorporated into the CAF’s training plans going forward.

I note that the DAOD 9005-1 requires that sexual misconduct policy and related resources must be made known to:

  1. all applicants on enrolment in the CAF;
  2. CAF members during recruit and basic officer training;
  3. CAF members on military occupation qualification training;
  4. CAF members on leadership courses; and
  5. CAF members prior to and after deploymentEndnote 910.

Operation HONOUR, inclusion and diversity training is provided in the first three career DPs (DP1, DP2 and DP3) through the common professional development programs. Operation HONOUR training is included in the basic training courses at the CFLRS for NCM recruits and N/OCdtsEndnote 911 . The basic military training courses (BMQ and BMOQ) both cover harassment policies, case studies on harassment, and preventing HISB, as well as inclusion and diversity training. Recruits must also acknowledge in writing that they have read and will comply with CAF harassment policies. All candidates also receive a copy of the summary version of Duty with Honour.

This content is also given to N/OCdts at the military colleges in each academic year. In DP2, this content is again incorporated into the Primary Leadership QualificationEndnote 912 for NCMs and the Canadian Armed Forces Junior Officer Development officer trainingEndnote 913.

The CAF’s more recent adoption of the Path to DignityEndnote 914 is a change strategy intended to shift the focus of Operation HONOUR from an immediate response primarily concentrated on addressing incidents, to a long-term institutional culture change strategy designed to prevent and address sexual misconduct. The Path to Dignity is designed to align the behaviours and attitudes of CAF members with the principles and values of the profession of arms in Canada. Strategic Objective 1.1 is to “Enhance education and awareness programs throughout a career span.” The CPCC plans to work with the CDA to implement the objectives set out in the Path to Dignity, and improve existing programsEndnote 915.

Issues with the CAF Training Programs

Disconnect between CAF ethos and ethics doctrine and reality

The current doctrine upon which CAF leadership training is based is outlined in a number of manuals, many of which I have reviewedEndnote 916. Canadian military ethos, as well as CAF customs and practices, are described in Duty with Honour. The Defence Ethics ProgrammeEndnote 917 is considered a comprehensive, values-based ethics program that provides ethical guidance to both DND and the CAF. The DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics outlines the ethical principles and expected behaviours that apply to DND employees and CAF members. Similarly, the Canadian Armed Forces Ethos: Trusted to Serve will continue to set out the ethos and ethical standards expected of CAF members.

The training given to CAF members starts with the ethical principle, which is “to respect the dignity of all persons.” The “expected behaviours” related to respecting the dignity of all persons is that at all times and in all places, DND employees and CAF members shall respect human dignity and value of every person by:

1.1 Treating every person with respect and fairness.

1.2 Valuing diversity and the benefit of combining the unique qualities and strengths inherent in a diverse workforce.

1.3 Helping to create and maintain safe and healthy workplaces that are free from harassment and discrimination.

1.4 Working together in a spirit of openness, honesty and transparency that encourages engagement, collaboration and respectful communicationEndnote 918.

The DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics also states that CF members who are also in leadership roles have a particular responsibility to exemplify military values of the Canadian Forces and the common values and obligations of the Code of Values and Ethics. CAF leaders are expected to “create a healthy ethical culture that is free from reprisal, to ensure that all subordinates are given every opportunity to meet their legal and ethical obligations to act, and to proactively inculcate the values of the Code of Values and EthicsEndnote 919.

Despite the abundance of doctrinal and training materials, events have demonstrated that ethical education in the CAF continues to fall short of its objectives. There is an obvious disconnect between rhetoric and reality.

Despite the abundance of doctrinal and training materials, events have demonstrated that ethical education in the CAF continues to fall short of its objectives. There is an obvious disconnect between rhetoric and reality. This was termed by the CFLRS as a misalignment between official values/ethos and practice – between what is taught and what is modelledEndnote 920. Put simply, the “ethical teaching” is often not taken seriously. There are a number of factors that contribute to this disconnect. Instructors who appear sceptical about the content they have to communicate, staid instruction techniques (“Death By PowerPoint”), and the contrast between “real military skills” and “soft issues” are just a few of these factors. Public exposure of leaders who have long fallen short of living by these ethical principles, and the actual composition of the classes where young white men dominate, all contribute to an entrenched culture that is at odds with the values being taught. I have heard from trainees that the attitudes and behaviours of some training school staff directly undermine the value of the ethical and cultural related content taught. One example is particularly startling. Several young women entering basic training were told that they should “get on the pill” or, worse, that they should get a prescription “for the pill that will stop their periods.” Not only is that an appalling suggestion, it also illustrates the extent to which commitment to diversity and inclusion is purely formal. Despite all the classroom training they receive about diversity, these new recruits, like most of their peers, will learn early on that what is truly expected, and rewarded, is conformity to a masculine “ethos” and elimination of the inconvenience of diversity. This is considerably at odds with Canadian values and expectations.

Training staff

In an organization like the CAF, where hierarchy and leadership are of the utmost importance, early indoctrination and cultural embrace are critical. It is not only the content of ethical training that will contribute to culture change in the CAF, but the method of delivery.

Above all, excellent teachers should provide the early phases of training, not just to the upper levels of continuing education programs. At the CFLRS, the average age of new recruits is 27. They are volunteers. They come to the CAF with preconceptions and expectations. Their first exposure to the organization is important, and there is no doubt they quickly understand the importance of discipline. At the CFLRS, they learn how to “live with their weapon,” which they carry around at all times. This is a striking example of effective messaging. In the development of what the CAF considers important, recruits should, at the outset of their training, be exposed to and taught by the very best, not by those who do not want to be there, do not believe in what they are asked to teach, and whose demeanour is completely at odds with the purported values of the organization.

Loyalty, integrity and courage are sometimes replaced by abuse of authority, pettiness, and lack of respect, conveyed to recruits by immediate superiors who are poor role models and mentors. Senior CAF members recognize that this is a serious problem. There are long-standing issues with the staffing of training schools and training positions within operational units, and using incremental (non-permanent) staff to take on these training roles. I have been told that postings to training units, instead of command positions, are seen as barriers to career progression in the combat arms community in particular. While many may understand the importance of training the next generation and are dedicated to serving in that fashion, they hesitate to take on a teaching role for fear of being denied other opportunities elsewhere.

Teaching talent should be recognized and rewarded, including by leading to greater access to and opportunities for leadership positions on par with operational postings.

This current approach needs to be reversed. Teaching talent should be recognized and rewarded, including by leading to greater access to and opportunities for leadership positions on par with operational postings. Additional incentives including a new allowance or automatic consideration for future promotion should also be weighed. In parallel, members under administrative review, or who have been the subject of disciplinary measures, should not be eligible to teach.

Recommendation #23

The CAF should equip all training schools with the best possible people and instructors. Specifically, the CAF should:

  1. prioritize postings to training units, especially training directed at new recruits and naval/officer cadets;
  2. incentivize and reward roles as CFLRS instructors, and other key instructor and training unit positions throughout the CAF, as well as the completion of instructor training, whether through pay incentives, accelerated promotions, agreement for future posting priority, or other effective means;
  3. address the current disincentives for these postings, such as penalties, whether real or perceived, for out-of-regiment postings during promotion and posting decisions; and
  4. ensure appropriate screening of qualified instructors, both for competence and character.

A potentially even more effective solution to many of these systemic problems and shortcomings would be the creation of a new trainer/educator occupation within the CAF, or a specialty within one of the support-related occupations. This would generate a permanent cadre of skilled professional trainers, who are well-suited, qualified and keen to take on this type of career and role.

When you consider the extent of the training function already present within the CAF, including the large number of training schools, training units and training positions, it is quite likely that a critical mass already exists for this idea to be seriously exploredEndnote 921. I believe that this type of change could also serve to attract a more diverse element into the CAF of the future. I understand that introducing a new occupation of trainers/educators could be perceived as a net loss for the CAF, as those trainers would seemingly be unavailable or unsuitable for deployments and military operations. However, this is an untested assumption, and it reflects the dismissive opposition towards, and lack of appreciation for, such an important role.

If given the chance, I believe the creation of this proposed new occupation could represent a ground-breaking new direction for the CAF, and those tasked with teaching would, in all likelihood, apply their knowledge and skills beyond the classroom in operations postings.

Recommendation #24

The CAF should assess the advantages and disadvantages of forming a new trainer/educator/instructor occupation within the CAF, or a specialty within one of the human resources-related occupations, in order to create a permanent cadre of skilled and professional educators and trainers.

Training for soft skills

We are often reminded that the role of the military is to fight and defend Canadians and allies in times of strife, and to support our communities during times of disaster. In reality, it is also true that the majority of CAF members do not spend their careers in combat situations. For many occupations and trades, members will be in combat zones for only a few months, if any, during their entire careers. And while it is important to train for combat, and be in a state of effective readiness, I believe soft skills are equally important. Members need communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving and conflict management skills, creativity, flexibility, work ethic, mutual respect and empathy. This includes learning to speak up and communicate effectively around difficult issues (like sexual assault and misconduct), to resolve conflicts respectfully, and to help team members understand how to treat others fairly.

To the extent that these skills are considered feminine, and at odds with the warrior culture that is germane to the profession of arms, I believe this is an antiquated conception of what makes an effective modern warrior. In fact, many of the foundational documents of the CAF speak to that issue.

Operational effectiveness is often described as the overriding concern in the CAF. Interestingly, Leadership in the Canadian Forces: Leading People defines collective effectiveness as seeking five major outcomes, namely: Mission Success; Internal Integration; Member Well-Being and Commitment; External Adaptability; and Military Ethos.

Member Well-Being and Commitment is further defined as:

(...) taking care of people. This outcome is critical to mission success, in the first instance, and contributes significantly to internal integration and external adaptability. It signifies a concern for followers, the quality of their life and conditions of service, and the provision of all necessary means of force protection on operations. Commitment is both up and down, as in the member’s commitment to the CF and the CF’s commitment to its members. The Canadian Forces is its people. Demonstrating care and consideration is both a practical obligation and a moral obligation for effective CF leadersEndnote 922.

This speaks well about the necessity of further integrating interpersonal skills into the combatant culture.

Training methods

With respect to training materials, the CAF materials and outlines we have reviewed to date are largely traditional (PowerPoint slides, manuals, discussion topics, etc.). The CAF should consider new types of training on sexual misconduct, including interactive techniques. Additionally, they should look to leaders in the field with established best practices – particularly civilian institutions that are grappling with similar challenges. Finally, the CAF should consider integrating more real-world test scenarios for ethical breaches that are not flagged in advance to trainees.

I have also heard that related, specialized training is sometimes only available in English to members posted outside of Quebec. The lack of training in French could impact the effectiveness of the training and associated cultural attitudes.

Probationary period

It is the DND’s and the CAF’s ultimate responsibility as an employer to provide a safe and non-toxic work environment for its employeesEndnote 923. I am aware of the ongoing strains on the CAF’s ability to improve its training operations. Current and projected staffing shortages put pressure on the CAF and its training schools to mobilize the very best instructors. The same pressure may also lead to a willingness to retain trainees, even if they demonstrate toxic views and attitudes. Despite these challenges, when it comes to both trainees and instructors, the CAF needs to develop a better process for weeding out those individuals early.

The old “we break them and rebuild them” approach to military training still captures the confidence with which the CAF has traditionally approached its recruitment strategy. While this may serve narrow training skills .

This could be done by transforming basic training into a probationary period. I am conscious that this requires not only a change in the enlistment TOS arrangements, but a major change in leadership culture. The old “we break them and rebuild them” approach to military training still captures the confidence with which the CAF has traditionally approached its recruitment strategy. While this may serve narrow training skills objectives, it is not compatible with the more sophisticated education needed by modern members of the CAF, including at the point of entry. As such, and consistent with my recommendation above in respect of recruitment, the CAF should restructure its early training into a probationary period with provisions for early, expedited release in the event that trainees fail to show the desire or ability to meet the CAF’s ethical and cultural requirements.

Recommendation #25

The CAF should develop and implement a process for expedited, early release of probationary trainees at basic and early training schools, including the CFLRS and military colleges, who display a clear inability to meet the ethical and cultural expectations of the CAF.

External secondments

The CAF operates in an extremely self-reliant manner. While this is largely dictated by the nature of the organization, the result has implications, arguably both good and bad. In the areas of human resources management and cultural reform, the CAF, like some law enforcement agencies, is struggling to keep pace with the private sector and the civilian public service. This is evident from the time it took for the CAF to begin addressing its sexual misconduct and discrimination problem, and the relative ineffectiveness of the measures put in place so far. I believe this could be remedied, in part, by expanding opportunities for external secondments. The CAF does not have many such opportunities at the present time.

Of course, the CAF has a long history of establishing and managing military exchanges and cross postings with many international allies and other countries. I have heard from stakeholders that opportunities for such secondments are beneficial because they help members expand their first-hand knowledge and expertise. This is, however, still centered on military-related matters. The CAF should consider expanding this vision to include additional secondments to the private sector, and to other government departments, with a view to expanding leadership and management experience in fields other than strictly military.

For instance, the RCAF launched a secondment program, called the RCAF Fellowship Programme, in 2017 to develop RCAF leaders’ analytical skills and equip them with better understanding of international security and civil military affairs. Attendees are seconded outside the CAF. I understand that the Fellowship in 2022 is with Communitech, a key Canadian innovation hub collocated with the University of Waterloo. This type of external secondment provides fresh perspectives and ideas, not born within the DND, to help solve current RCAF challenges. I note that some allies have also developed secondment programs external to their militaryEndnote 924.

External secondments allow members to acquire skills and a deeper understanding of business or government, which are applied throughout the rest of their career, and which ultimately benefit the CAF. The member involved achieves a wider, more balanced perspective, gained from a new and different environmentEndnote 925.

The private corporate sector is worlds ahead of the CAF when it comes to the management of human resources, the career progression of women and minority groups, and dealing with the issue of sexual misconduct. For example, Catalyst is an international organization that deals with the promotion of women in the corporate world, and offers research and training tools and resourcesEndnote 926. Catalyst recognizes that male-dominated industries and occupations, defined as those with less than 25% women, are particularly vulnerable to reinforcing harmful stereotypes and creating unfavorable environments that make it even more difficult for women to succeedEndnote 927.

More organizational openness and cross-pollination would enable the CAF to benefit from a broader range of research, data, tools, experiences, and evolving best practices. There would be advantages for how the CAF manages its human resources, particularly as it continues to face challenges in managing diversity. More generally, exposure to start-up industries and the non-military use of technology should also be of great interest to many CAF members.

Finally, having a few senior members, particularly GOFOs, temporarily assigned outside the organization for flexible periods, would also allow the CAF some additional agility to pull them back if needed for operational requirements in times of crisis, without the cascading disruptions that normally ensue when senior CAF leaders are pulled out of operational command postings for emergency military requirements. This is consistent with my recommendations below in the Human Resources section.

Recommendation #26

The CAF should increase the number of opportunities for CAF members, particularly at the senior leadership and GOFO levels, to be seconded to the private sector, and to other government departments.


Probationary trainees at basic and early training schools who display an inability to meet the ethical and cultural expectations of the CAF should be released early..

These recommendations are in line with my recommendations regarding recruitment. If the CAF adjusts its recruiting procedures to abridge the on-boarding process, thereby seriously reducing current delays, and establishes a probationary period in its enrollment process, I firmly believe there would be much more opportunity for true observation and character assessment during basic training and early trade training. Probationary trainees at basic and early training schools who display an inability to meet the ethical and cultural expectations of the CAF should be released early. The CAF’s culture needs to shift to reflect the reality that trainees who display problematic traits are a danger to their peers and the future of the CAF. The training system, particularly the CFLRS, should have the mandate to assess recruits, with the understanding that increased attrition may follow in such a system.

This approach requires a cadre of instructors capable of performing that function, and who, themselves, are properly trained, evaluated and rewarded for their ability to do so. The CAF needs to find effective ways to better equip all training schools with the best possible people, as they are responsible for molding the future of the CAF.

I have not had the opportunity to examine in detail the entire content of the CDA curriculum as it relates to the substance and method of leadership training and issues around sexual misconduct. I have looked more closely at the early stages of training than at the upper levels of continuing professional development. In my view, the early process does not appear to have a lasting effect on many members once they leave the training schools. This was a common theme in my stakeholder interviews.

Few had anything good to say about the training they receive on a range of issues, including sexual misconduct, diversity and discrimination. This is not only a problem with “legacy” members, but an ongoing issue. The Report on Roundtable Discussion and MINDS Reports on the 2016 and 2018 Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed ForcesEndnote 928 included a comprehensive list of suggested topics that could improve the CAF’s training aimed at preventing sexual misconduct, particularly sexual violence. The key to such training, is to make it progressive, as well as repetitive, throughout a member’s careerEndnote 929.

With respect to training related to HISB and sexual misconduct, I note that many of the recommendations in the Deschamps Report were not implemented as intended. Relevant training that makes use of interactive techniques has largely not been provided by professionals skilled in the area of sexual misconduct, particularly not in small groups. The Deschamps Report further cautioned that unit-led training for these topics should be limited, and online training should only be used for NCMs when accompanied by interactive training.

Demonstrating the significance of soft skills, on par with the more technical teachings, at an early career point, would contribute to aligning doctrine with reality. These skills are critical when it comes to responding to incidents of sexual misconduct. As I stated earlier, training on these skills should be done by persons who have adequate knowledge and expertise in the field, rather than simply by persons in authority, in the chain of command, who are often seen as merely going through the motions. This approach aligns with objectives outlined in the Path to Dignity’s Strategic Objective 1.2, namely to “expand knowledge, engage with external partners and stakeholdersEndnote 930.” In this light, I would advise the CAF to continually reconsider the effectiveness of the content and nature of its ongoing training related to sexual misconduct, and to develop a method of measuring long-term success. This is now part of the mandate of the CPCCEndnote 931. I encourage the CAF to continue to improve its ability to assess the impact of any improvements, while understanding that the quality of instructors and other related changes are also fundamental.

Recommendation #27

The CAF should fully implement the recommendations as described in the Deschamps Report on training related to sexual offences and harassment.

Military Colleges

Current situation

In line with its long-standing policy and practice of managing its needs internally, the CAF is in the university education business. Through the CDA, it is engaged not only in training and continuing professional development of its members, but also in university-level education (undergraduate and postgraduate) at its two remaining military colleges – the RMC Saint-Jean and the RMC Kingston.

The regulatory objectives of the military colleges include preparing and motivating N/OCdts for effective service as commissioned officers, and improving the education of commissioned officers by:

  1. providing a university education in both official languages in appropriate disciplines designed on a broad base to meet the unique needs of the Canadian Forces (academics);
  2. developing qualities of leadership (military leadership);
  3. developing the ability to communicate in both official languages and to understand the principles of biculturalism (bilingualism); and
  4. developing a high standard of personal physical fitness (physical fitness)Endnote 932.

The RMC Kingston was founded in 1874, and was empowered to confer degrees in arts, science, and engineering in 1959Endnote 933. The RMC Kingston offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in both official languages, and supports continuing education programs for members of the CAF and the federal government. It currently offers 22 undergraduate arts, science, and engineering degree programs, and 13 graduate degree programs. The RMC Kingston also offers a number of specialized non-degree programs and conducts specialized military-related research to support Canada’s defence objectives. As of the 2017 OAG RMC Report, the RMC Kingston had 192 full-time professors (156 academic/civilian and 36 military)Endnote 934.

The RMC Saint-Jean, Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, opened in 1952. It was closed in 1995, along with Royal Roads Military College, when the colleges were consolidated. However, the RMC Saint-Jean re-opened in 2008. In its current iteration, the RMC Saint-Jean provides a transition from high school to university, particularly for students who complete secondary school in Quebec, by providing college-level courses in social sciences and science in French and English. The first two years of study at the RMC Saint-Jean are called “Preparatory Year” and “First Year”. After completing these, cadets who meet all the requirements of the Quebec Ministry of Education receive a diploma of college studiesEndnote 935. The new program meets the diploma of college studies requirements of the Quebec Ministries of Education and Higher Education (ministère de l’Éducation and ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur) through a partnership with the Cégep Saint-Jean-sur-RichelieuEndnote 936, while also ensuring that cadets can continue towards their undergraduate degree programs at the RMC Kingston. Cadets generally then pursue their studies in second year at the RMC Kingston. Others continue in the undergraduate International Studies degree program offered at the RMC Saint-JeanEndnote 937.

ROTP cadets make up most of the undergraduate cadet wing. For example, approximately 1,130 N/OCdts are enrolled in the ROTP at the RMC Kingston at any given time, which represents the majority of full-time studentsEndnote 938. Other students may come through other entry programs, such as the University Training Plan for NCMsEndnote 939 or reserve entry plansEndnote 940. After graduation, ROTP N/OCdts who attended a military college must normally serve up to five years as commissioned officers in the CAF, and pilots have a longer required period of serviceEndnote 941. If they want to release from the CAF prior to the end of this obligatory service, officers are required to refund all or a portion of the cost of their education incurred by the publicEndnote 942.

In order to graduate from military college and receive a commission, a cadet is expected to be successful in all of the “four pillars” noted above. The RMC Kingston’s mission statement, therefore, includes producing bilingual, fit, and ethical leaders for the CAFEndnote 943.

The military colleges have a selective admission policy based on its entrance examinations and students’ past academic records. According to data provided to me, in 2021-22, the military colleges have managed to reach the CAF target of attracting approximately 25% womenEndnote 944. At the RMC Kingston specifically, in the 2020/2021 academic year, women made up 22% of the undergraduate ROTP cadet wing population and in 2021/22 represented 23%. In December 2020, women also made up 18% of students undertaking graduate studies at the college in KingstonEndnote 945.

According to CFRG, in 2021-22, 24.2% of military college cadets at the RMC Kingston, and 26.4% at the RMC St-Jean self-identified as visible minorities. This does not include those enrolled in the one-year Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) programEndnote 946. Identification as a member of a designated group is on a voluntary basisEndnote 947.

Table 12. ROTP Visible Minority StatisticsEndnote 948.

FY ROTP-RMC ROTP-RMCSJ ROTP-Civilian Universities Total Percentage
2018-2019 17.6% 18.1% 29% 20%
2019-2020 21.4% 12% 0%Footnote * 17%
2020-2021 27.6% 19% 31.25% 24%
2021-2022 24.2% 26.4% 19.6% 25%

The RMC Kingston attracts a large number of its cadets from OntarioEndnote 949. The RMC Saint-Jean is currently designed to attract Quebec students, works with the CEGEP system in Quebec and is also a bridge to the undergraduate programs at the RMC
KingstonEndnote 950. In short, the cadet wing population at both the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean is predominantly composed of young white men from Ontario and Quebec.

The percentage of women at military colleges is far lower than in civilian universities.

The percentage of women at military colleges is far lower than in civilian universities. At most Canadian universities, the majority of students are women. The following table sets out the proportion of women in 2022 at a number of Canadian universities, large and small, based on data collected by Maclean’s; the figures illustrate the significant gender gap between the military colleges and other universitiesEndnote 951.

Table 13. Proportion of women in 2022 at a number of Canadian universities.

University Women Ratio
University of Ontario Institute of TechnologyEndnote 952 42%
University of TorontoEndnote 953 56%
Dalhousie UniversityEndnote 954 55%
University of British ColumbiaEndnote 955 56%
University of WaterlooEndnote 956 47%
Algoma UniversityEndnote 957 53%
Carleton UniversityEndnote 958 52%
Saint Mary’s UniversityEndnote 959 51%
Mount Allison UniversityEndnote 960 59%

Further, a 2019 Universities Canada survey found that while 22.3% of Canada’s general population identifies as a visible minority, visible minorities account for about 40% of undergraduate students in Canadian universitiesEndnote 961. This contrasts with representation of visible minorities accepted into the ROTP program for undergraduate studies, which ranged from 17% to 25% over the last four years, as set out above, according to CFRG.

Some ROTP candidates do not attend military college, but instead attend a civilian university to obtain a subsidized undergraduate degreeEndnote 962. This is in part because some occupations require a degree not offered at military college, for example in nursing, and presumably because accessing the larger diversity of programs offered at civilian universities is desirable. Other candidates are accepted into the ROTP program but are not offered a place at the military collegesEndnote 963. These civilian university cadets are paid an annual salary and do their military training mainly in the summer months, sometimes together with military colleges ROTP cadets.

In addition, the CAF’s DEO program accepts officer candidates who typically already have an undergraduate degree, without the CAF having incurred the expense of paying for that part of their education. The CAF provided data showing that 5,510 current officers had entered the CAF by way of the DEO Plan and that 4,698 were ROTP entries, although CFRG, the organization that prepared the information, recognized that there were known errors with this dataEndnote 964.

Structure of the military colleges

In terms of organization, although the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean are educational institutions, they operate as military units. The officers appointed to command each military colleges are COs and each holds the appointment of “Commandant”. The Commandants are the commanding military officers and executive heads of the military colleges. The Commandant essentially exercises command over all officers and non-commissioned members at the military college. The Commandant and military staff operate within the CAF chain of command. The Principal at the RMC Kingston reports to the Commandant; however, the academic program is administered with a framework of committees, departments, and faculty appointments that fall outside of the chain of command for the purpose of ensuring academic excellenceEndnote 965. The Principal leads the academic instruction, coordinates academic research, and provides the link between the college’s academic functions and military culture. At the RMC St-Jean, the head of the Academic Wing is called the Academic DirectorEndnote 966.

Reviews and audits of the military colleges

The military colleges have a well-documented problem with sexual harassment, discrimination and misconduct. As reported by Justice DeschampsEndnote 967:

In the colleges the ERA visited – the Collège militaire royal du Canada and the Royal Military College of Canada – participants reported that sexual harassment is considered a “passage obligé”, and sexual assault an ever-present risk. One officer cadet joked that they do not report sexual harassment because it happens all the time.

In August 2016, largely in response to growing concerns with the prevailing climate at the RMC Kingston, including three suicides, the CDS ordered a special assessment of the climate, training environment, culture, and structure of the ROTP program at the college. The Special Staff Assistance Visit (SSAV) team, a team internal to the CAF, released its report in March 2017. The 2017 SSAV Report included observations based on more than 400 interviews with stakeholders, including RMC Kingston and RMC Saint-Jean cadets and staff. The SSAV made 79 wide-ranging recommendations related to the areas of command and control, governance of the military colleges, the selection and responsibilities of college staff and support services, and the operation of the “Four Pillar” program. The report also addressed the many stressors and morale issues for cadets, indicating that they stemmed from, and were symptomatic of, the underlying systemic issues with the college structure, leadership failures, and the delivery and high expectations of its program. With respect to sexual misconduct in particular, addressed further below, the SSAV team found that the RMC Kingston had been “proactive in communicating and providing direction to address issues of sexual misconduct”, and was told of “a small number of allegations of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviourEndnote 968”.

The 2017 SSAV Report also described the governance structure at the RMC Kingston as characterized by conflict and confusion between academic and military visionsEndnote 969. The 2017 SSAV Report, at Annex F, details the many issues related to the complex governance of the military colleges. As military units, the colleges have the usual military chain of command as well as a parallel Cadet Wing chain of command operating in conjunction with the Training Wing, Academic Wing, and the academic governance bodies established by regulationEndnote 970. The 2017 SSAV Report also addressed the effects the command and control and policy environment of the CDA/MILPERSGEN headquarters had on the situation at the colleges. The Report raised concerns from the Academic Wing at RMC Kingston that the investments required in order to maintain a university accreditation are not well understood at the DND and the CAF strategic levelsEndnote 971.

In 2017, the OAG reviewed the RMC Kingston and similarly found that the governance structure was ineffective, and that the RMC Kingston did not suitably integrate military and academic objectivesEndnote 972. This was said to be of concern because without an effective governance structure, the colleges cannot clearly understand their purpose and will not have the direction they need to function well.

In October 2020, Statistics Canada released a report that highlighted continuing problems at the military colleges involving unwanted sexualized and discriminatory conductEndnote 973.

Concerns about systemic issues

I believe there remain significant reasons for concern both with the operation of the military colleges as currently conceived, as well as with the environment in which young female cadets are expected to grow and excel.

Immaturity in the exercise of authority and power over others, real or perceived, is unlikely to contribute to the eradication of sexual misconduct that has taken root in the culture of these colleges.

The unifying principle pulling together the four pillars (academic, military, fitness, bilingualism) is the development of leadership. This is done, in part, through the old model of “head boys” prevalent in English private schools for boys, where upper-year students are invested with responsibilities towards their junior peers. This has been described by some stakeholders as “children leading children”, the “untrained leading the untrained” and by others, particularly N/OCdts chosen to lead in that fashion as “responsibility without power”. This model of early leadership development needs to be critically re-examined. Immaturity in the exercise of authority and power over others, real or perceived, is unlikely to contribute to the eradication of sexual misconduct that has taken root in the culture of these colleges. Even trained officers struggle to know what is right when it comes to recognizing and addressing sexual misconduct. How can we expect young, novice cadets to know better?

Co-ed boarding in colleges and universities raises its own set of challenges, particularly for students who are leaving home for the first time. This is particularly serious at the RMC Saint-Jean where some N/OCdts are as young as 17 years old. In a military environment, these challenges are even more intense as cadets surrender a large part of their independence, have very little personal free time, and develop a high level of deference to authority; this, mixed with a culture of “don’t get caught”, is clearly at odds with the colleges’ motto of “Truth, Duty, Valour”. My interviews have revealed a system where cadets spend four years learning how to circumvent rules as a result of the immense pressure to succeed in all four pillars, together with the stringent expectations and rules imposed on them.

This is starkly demonstrated in the area of sexual misconduct. Needless to say, the tension between the duty to report and the need to fit in with peers is not easily resolved by young people who learn early what is in their best interest. Described by a stakeholder as a culture of “don’t blame your bud”, this fundamentally conflicts with the requirement to follow certain ethical guidelines and to step in when “your bud” is behaving inappropriately.

This also raises questions about whether the leadership skills instilled at this early stage are fully aligned with the lofty ideals expressed, for instance, in Leadership in the Canadian Forces: Leading People, a foundation document applicable throughout the CAF. In my view, this antiquated structure of the Cadet Wing command structure has outlived its usefulness and is now causing more harm than good. The time has come to put an end to it, and to instill modern leadership values in officer cadets through other means.

Recommendation #28

The Cadet Wing responsibility and authority command structure should be eliminated.

In addition, the four-pillar model shows some strains. The governance structure at the military colleges is one of ongoing conflict and confusion between academic and military missions and visionsEndnote 974. Observations and recommendations have been made in past reviews about the weaknesses in the military training and the lack of balance between military training and academic programsEndnote 975. The 2017 OAG RMC Report, which echoed relevant SSAV observations, found that the military colleges did not sufficiently or effectively balance and integrate military training and academic education. As a result, military training was considered secondary to the culture and demands of the academic program.

I am in no position to evaluate the quality of the colleges’ Academic Wing, perceived by most as the dominant pillar in the lives of the cadetsEndnote 976. The other three pillars, however, show signs of stress. I also cannot judge whether four years at the RMC Kingston or RMC St-Jean is producing functionally bilingual officers. However, my consultations were conducted overwhelmingly in English, despite my signaling that French was an equal option. It would be worth evaluating the improvement in bilingualism during the military college years, to determine the extent of any value added.

Athletic Wing interviews provided interesting insights into the issues of discrimination and sexual misconduct. In that environment, female cadets were often told by their male peers that they were never going to be as good as them, even when they were demonstrably so. Many resented having to train in groups, where they felt exposed, self-conscious, and demeaned at the slightest sign of difficulty or failure. The same is true for LGBTQ2+ cadets, as the environment is prone to attribute and devalue some traits, and celebrate the hyper-masculinity culture, which continues to cause major problems throughout the CAF. The staff of the Athletic Wing were aware of these issues, and expressed concern and frustration at their inability to do more to address these problems.

The Training Wing at RMC Kingston, the military pillar which, more than anything else, distinguishes military colleges from civilian universities, was understaffed and under considerable strain at the time of my virtual visit. More generally, it suffers from the same chronic problem as the CFLRS, showing that the training function in the CAF is undervalued. As recognized in the SSAV Report, the “overall climate at [the] RMC has been influenced by a decade of resource pressures and higher priorities at the strategic level, which has resulted in [the] RMC operating in an environment that has generally placed a lower degree of priority on the College.” Stakeholders indicated that postings to education and training units are not particularly sought after, nor are they always rewarded in terms of career progress and opportunities for promotionEndnote 977. Further, being posted to the RMC Saint-Jean is seen as posing additional difficulties for Anglophones who have children in school, for example. In addition, talented leadership role models and gifted educators are generally not posted in these training functions because their talents are often valued and required elsewhere. Worst still, I am told that some CAF members are posted to the colleges and recruit school, while under administrative review or career limitations, as a convenient way of “getting rid of them” or solving an administrative problem.

In addition, I have heard submissions indicating that the career progression of officers, particularly from combat arms regiments, is damaged by postings to the military colleges because such postings are not considered equivalent to leadership/command positions within the Army. While several occupations value time in Squadron or Division commander roles at the military colleges and do promote straight out of positions at the military colleges, these are usually Air Force or Army support occupations. I understand that this further dissuades strong officers and non-commissioned officers from the combat arms to get posted to the military colleges, particularly as they watch their peers from different occupations fill more of the junior positions and get promoted more quickly. This can act as a career and retention demotivator for CAF members who view postings to the military colleges as a waste, thereby further devaluing these types of postings.

This is all highly problematic. The entire raison-d’être of the military colleges has to rest on the assumption that it is the best way to form and educate tomorrow’s military leaders. It is difficult to imagine that the academic side of their education is vastly superior to what they would obtain in Canada’s civilian universities. The value-added must come from the other three pillars, and from the leadership development skills acquired by observation and experience. And while this is argued in theory, it is not readily apparent.

In terms of the cost of training N/OCdts through the military college system, the 2017 OAG Report found that the cost of training ROTP officers at the RMC Kingston (and presumably also at the RMC Saint-Jean) is considerably higher than the cost of sending ROTP candidates to civilian universities to obtain their undergraduate degreesEndnote 978.

The 2017 OAG RMC Report on the RMC further stated that a National Defence analysis had found that “there was no significant difference between the career progression of N/OCdts who graduated from [the] RMC and officers who entered the Canadian Armed Forces through other plans”. RMC graduates were not shown to be promoted faster. A 2014 CAF professional development system study further observed “no discernible difference” in officers produced from the various entry plans at the end of their occupational training. The 2017 OAG RMC Report indicated that DND analyzed retention rates for RMC graduates and found they were higher, compared with officers from other entry plans, but that the difference was less than 10%Endnote 979.

There is no question that RMC graduates constitute an informal elite within the CAF. It is, therefore, particularly significant to examine who N/OCdts are, and what they learn, formally and culturally, through their education and experience at the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean.

However, there does appear to be a strong connection between education in the military colleges and opportunities for senior leadership in the CAF. For instance, in 2017 the OAG reported that 62% of senior leaders were undergraduates from one of the military collegesEndnote 980. More recently, according to CAF data, 45.4% of current GOFOs received a degree from military collegeEndnote 981. There is no question that RMC graduates constitute an informal elite within the CAF. It is, therefore, particularly significant to examine who N/OCdts are, and what they learn, formally and culturally, through their education and experience at the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean.

Sexual misconduct at the military colleges

As with any other higher education institution, students learn as much from the formal instruction they receive, as from the general culture of the place, good and bad. That culture is rooted in history, symbols, reputation, traditions, and is strengthened by the degree of homogeneity of its student and faculty body. In terms of sexual misconduct specifically, the military colleges have well-documented issues that have not been appropriately addressed.

The SSAV Report raised many concerns about the prevailing culture at the RMC Kingston, but downplayed the culture of bullying and sexual misconduct. The SSAV Report indicated that:

The message the Team received from the many female N/OCdts that were interviewed was that they felt safe day and night at the College; they knew what acceptable behaviour was and were able to communicate confidently and clearly to those few male colleagues who perhaps began to cross the lineEndnote 982.

This conclusion was at odds with other external findings that have raised more serious concerns, and with the comments I heard in the course of my consultations. The SSAV Report cited stressors including leadership tensions, poor leadership role models, academic and time-related pressures, and cadets’ inability to identify and seek assistance with stressors when required. The blame for harassment and sexual misconduct was shifted to the survivors, particularly weaker female cadets with “lower levels of self-esteem” who were “unsure how to cope with aggressive male colleagues” and who “struggle with this and do get subjected to varying degrees of inappropriate behaviour.Endnote 983” In this respect, the 2017 SSAV Report has been criticized as lacking in objectivity, and a clear example of the CAF using internal data to contradict outside critics and shape the narrative in defence. The 2017 SSAV Report appears to normalize inappropriate behaviour, and put the onus on a small minority of young women to be able to cope with the toxic culture. Stakeholders have pointed out that sexual misconduct is partly a by-product of an organization’s culture, and a result of the existing transactional and power nature of a primarily male, combat-oriented military culture, when gender bias is built in. The 2017 SSAV Report, while very thorough in other respects and probably well intentioned, seems to simply accept or endorse that culture.

The 2017 OAG RMC Report found that while the RMC took action when serious incidents were reported, the number of investigations and incidents of misconduct involving senior N/OCdts showed that it needed to improve military leadership training. The Report determined that National Defence and the RMC had policies and procedures in place to deal with serious incidents, such as mental distress and self-harm, sexual misconduct, harassment, and alcohol and drug misuse. These policies and procedures were designed to educate and deter, detect and report, investigate and discipline, and rehabilitate and support both the victim and the accused. The report also found that the RMC provided support when serious incidents were reported, including referrals to victim support services and mental health services. However, with respect to the SSAV Report, the 2017 OAG Report indicated that because more than half of the 79 recommendations called for further review rather than concrete actions, the ultimate effect of those recommendations on the RMC “is likely to be limitedEndnote 984.”

The 2020 Statistics Canada Report indicated that of the 512 RMC Kingston and RMC Saint-Jean cadet survey respondents, 68% reported having experienced or witnessed unwanted sexualized behaviour in the previous 12 months. For female cadets, 79% reported they had witnessed or experienced these types of behavioursEndnote 985. This is a significant number of incidents. Some of the key issues highlighted in this recent report, as summarized in the response prepared by the RMC Kingston, are as follows:

  1. The results for military colleges more closely parallel those of civilian post-secondary institution students than those of CAF members;
  2. Those in the 18-24-year-old age range are the most at-risk group for sexual misconduct. Women in this age demographic are more at risk than men. Women at military college have a higher rate of incidence of “unwanted sexual behaviour” and discrimination than men;
  3. Women at military college have a much higher rate of incidence than women in civilian post-secondary institutions;
  4. Discrimination based on gender, gender identity and sexual orientation is a key factor that creates an environment conducive to, and supportive of, sexual misconduct. This type of discrimination, including the need to “act like a man should act” or “like a woman should act”, needs to be addressed if the CAF and the military colleges intend to create a culture in which discriminatory behaviour and sexual misconduct are understood to be unacceptable by all members;
  5. Almost all incidents of “unwanted sexual behaviour” occurred on campus;
  6. Almost all incidents of “unwanted sexual behaviour” were perpetrated by peers, and many incidents took place with other students present;
  7. Cadets were highly unlikely to intervene when they witnessed incidents of “unwanted sexual behaviour,” most often because they weren’t sure it was “serious enough”; and
  8. Cadets who had experienced “unwanted sexual behaviour” spoke to someone associated with their school only 7% of the timeEndnote 986.

Our interviews with female cadets were similarly worrisome as they confirmed that the college environment for female cadets remains unwelcoming and at times hostile, and that sexual misconduct and discriminatory attitudes persist. I was told that almost every female cadet has either experienced an incident or more of sexual misconduct “or worse”, as well as persisting discriminatory comments and attitudes. This includes misogynistic attitudes expressed towards female cadets in the sports and fitness area. The female cadets who participated in our focus groups also confirmed that they, and their female colleagues, do not report most sexist remarks, discriminatory attitudes, inappropriate sexual advances and other sexual misconduct perpetrated by their male colleagues for a number of reasons. They often do not want their male colleagues to get in trouble, and they do not want to suffer the many repercussions of reporting.

Reporting incidents of sexual misconduct also means that they will be drawn into a time-consuming, emotionally-draining and unpleasant administrative and/or disciplinary process, which they often choose to avoid except in the worst of cases. The consequences for the perpetrator were often considered inadequate or unlikely to change male behaviour. I was told by one female cadet that after one experience of reporting an incident of sexual misconduct, she chose not to report any subsequent incidents. A few female cadets reported that things have improved in recent years, but others considered it as bad as it has ever been.

None of this is new, and the slow progress, assuming there has been some, indicates that the roots of the problems are deep and entrenched. While the CAF has taken steps to address these cultural and systemic failures, the current situation is still highly problematic. I heard from many female cadets about the current culture and atmosphere. This is not old or outdated information. My interviews with cadets at both the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean, starkly contrast with the views of the SSAV report. I also note that according to CFPM, Kingston was one of the CAF districts with the highest rate sexually-related incidents at 6.9% in 2019-20Endnote 987. Presumably, this includes incidents from the College.

The military college programs already contain compulsory training for cadets designed to address the problem of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct at the colleges and in the CAF in general. The RMC Kingston prepared a response to the 2020 Statistics Canada Report, which discussed the report’s findings and performed an analysis to identify “gaps” where it most needs to improveEndnote 988. I commend the effort to identify and rectify these long-standing “gaps” in a timely and serious way.

The response outlined current programming at the military colleges on sexual misconduct, as well as initiatives promoting and supporting equity and diversity. Mandatory training, including leadership and diversity training, is given to the RMC Kingston and RMC Saint-Jean cadets during their officer DP1, and forms part of the military pillar degree requirements of the military collegesEndnote 989. Cadets receive Operation HONOUR-related training in all four years at the RMC KingstonEndnote 990. However, my discussions with stakeholders at the military colleges show that this training, together with other training related to leadership values, equity and diversity, is failing to substantially change still prevalent sexist attitudes, or eliminate sexual misconduct.

Training on sexual misconduct and how to handle misconduct situations does not lend itself to virtual or online presentations. Hands-on, mock situational training is recommended for this topic, just as the CAF trains for military skills. Further, appropriately skilled individuals should be conducting this training, in accordance with today’s standards and best practices. Military instructors without the appropriate background are sometimes viewed as unable to adequately address class discussions. Others are viewed as simply going through the motions or not taking the topic seriously, further discrediting the value of what was termed the “Hop on Her” training.

These formal initiatives clash with a strong culture, and day-to-day practices, resulting in contradictory messages. In my conversations with N/OCdts in Kingston and Saint-Jean, I was impressed with the strong bonds that young women were forming with each other, largely in an effort to belong and feel safe in an environment that provided neither inclusion nor safety. And I have every reason to believe that the same is true, if not more acutely so, for visible minorities, LGBTQ2+ and young aspiring CAF members from other marginalized groups.

The RMC Kingston has recently embraced certain grassroots initiatives to provide some support for women and other minority cadets. For example, the Athena Network aims to support female cadets throughout their academic years. Run by volunteers on their own time, with the full support of the Commandant, the Athena Network provides women in the military college system with opportunities to meet and share professional experiences through mentoring and networking activities. Participation is open to anyone irrespective of gender, including cadets, students, faculty, staff, as well as ex-cadetsEndnote 991.

The CAF Sentinel Program, with chapters at the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean, is a peer support network made up of trained and supervised volunteer members, designed to play a role in the detection, prevention, and support for military members in distress. Once a sentinel is qualified, they must take ongoing training to maintain knowledge and discover newly available resourcesEndnote 992.

In January 2020, the Commandant of the RMC Kingston signed the constitution of AGORA’s LGBTQ2+ Support Group, making it an officially sanctioned support group at the College. AGORA provides advocacy on behalf of its participants, opportunities for discussion groups and presentations by medical professionals and specialists from local external LGBTQ2+ groups, and a safe space for discussion on LGBTQ2+ concernsEndnote 993. AGORA is meant to help foster a positive environment for the RMC LGBTQ2+ community and to support the needs of students.

The Progressive Learning Program was developed by the SMRC in collaboration with the Training Wing and leadership at the RMC Kingston and delivers content tailored to the developmental stages of the students. The new RMC Kingston Success Centre was also established largely in response to a recommendation made in the SSAV Report that cited a need for a student services centre to enhance the quality of life on campus for students, faculty, and staff. The Success Centre, with a full-time position staffed since April 2020, is a one-stop shop where people can come for academic help, conflict services, financial planning assistance, healthy eating resources, and to access other programs and servicesEndnote 994.

I encourage these initiatives, as they are not top-down but rather engage the constituency. However, they may have somewhat limited reach and may take a long time to bear fruit. While these grassroots and support initiatives represent a step in the right direction, they may engage mostly like-minded individuals and have a limited impact on the broader dominant culture.

The military colleges do not have the type of student support that is typically available at civilian universities. Considerably more support has long been available for minority and at-risk populations at civilian universities, particularly in the larger institutions with a high diversity ratio. The military college programs are in the early stages. Their impact on attitudes, behaviours and culture at the military colleges will need to be tracked and formally evaluated.


The military colleges appear as institutions from a different era, with an outdated and problematic leadership model. There are legitimate reasons to question the wisdom of maintaining the existence of these military colleges, as they currently exist.

The military colleges appear as institutions from a different era, with an outdated and problematic leadership model. There are legitimate reasons to question the wisdom of maintaining the existence of these military colleges, as they currently exist. The advantages of Canada’s considerable investment in military colleges are unclearEndnote 995. There is a real risk that the perpetuation of a discriminatory culture at the colleges will slow the momentum for culture change the CAF has embarked upon. There is enough evidence that military colleges are not delivering on their mandate that I believe alternatives must be explored with an open mind.

I recognized that the military colleges are viewed by many in the CAF as untouchable institutions. There is a strong “ex-cadet” component among CAF officers at all levels, particularly among GOFOs who value their experience at military college and are not open to changing how it operates. For example, the RMC Kingston is considered by many CAF members and ex-cadets with successful careers both in and outside the military, as a “national institution of considerable value to the country and its citizens” and whose graduates have “made profound contributions in a wide range of endeavours that permeate throughout Canada and international society to this dayEndnote 996”. I do not dispute the fact that the military college system has produced many bright young Canadians, who have become excellent career officers and successful civilians after their release. However, the overwhelming majority of them were white men. Canadian society has changed. The persistent structural, cultural, and ethical issues inherent in the military college system require Canada to ask whether there is another, potentially much better, way to educate its future military leaders.

I understand that this could imply significant and difficult changes in the structure and role of the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean. However, it is time for their future to be formally reassessed and reimagined. The many pressures of the military college environment impair the quality of academic success, as a lot is being shoehorned into a four-year college program. A sense of competitiveness, at odds with the team spirit so important to the CAF, is woven into every aspect of the program. Cadets live, work, go to school, and spend their very limited free time in what has become a breeding ground for peer pressure and toxic relationships.

To be clear, closing the colleges altogether would be a missed opportunity. The military training, leadership courses, fitness and sports training, and bilingualism aspects provided to cadets while attending the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean likely could be further enhanced and delivered using a modified military college model. An externally-led review should formally consider whether it would be advantageous for ROTP officer cadets to first complete an undergraduate degree at a civilian university, and then attend a military college for a year of professional military education and related training. The feasibility of obtaining a master’s degree as a result of this training should also be assessed.

In my view, the continued hostile environment and mistreatment of many female cadets in itself justifies an in-depth examination of the future of military training through these colleges. Allies provide examples of different models that may be preferable and adaptable in the Canadian context. The United Kingdom and the United States operate very differentlyEndnote 997. The Canadian dual jurisdiction over the governance of these institutions provides additional complexities.

Meanwhile, the future of the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean is closely linked to the development of healthy leadership in the CAF. The status quo constitutes a serious impediment to the kind of culture change to which the CAF has expressed its commitment.

The long-standing cultural concerns unique to the military college environment are not new. Misogynistic and discriminatory thinking, and the related treatment of female N/OCdts by their peers and others persist, despite several external and internal reviews and the efforts already made by the CAF to address these concerns.

Further, it remains difficult to measure the true incidences of sexual misconduct at the military colleges. The CAF needs to equip itself to change the experience of female cadets and measure progress by demonstrating a true reduction in sexual misconduct incidents, and not just by considering the number of hours of related training given to N/OCdts.

For instance, the RMC Kingston conducts a voluntary, anonymous Exit Survey of graduating cadets, where cadets are asked to evaluate their experience with the Academic, Training and Athletic Wings. However, cadets are not specifically asked about their experiences with sexual misconduct or discrimination. The colleges should immediately adapt their Exit Survey to capture this type of important data.

Part of the response from CAF leadership has been that the problem with sexual misconduct was somewhat comparable to problems at civilian universitiesEndnote 998. It is true that the university environment is in itself susceptible to many forms of misconduct, including sexual misbehaviour, and especially so when students, away from home for the first time, live in residence side by side with limited supervision. I expect that most Canadian universities are acutely aware of that challenge and continue to make efforts to address it. The unique environment of military colleges makes that challenge even greater, almost insurmountable, particularly when the view persists within the CAF that military colleges do not have a significant problem with harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct.

Recommendation #29

A combination of Defence Team members and external experts, led by an external education specialist, should conduct a detailed review of the benefits, disadvantages and costs, both for the CAF and more broadly, of continuing to educate ROTP cadets at the military colleges. The review should focus on the quality of education, socialization and military training in that environment. It should also consider and assess the different models for delivering university-level and military leadership training to naval/officer cadets, and determine whether the RMC Kingston and the RMC Saint-Jean should continue as undergraduate degree-granting institutions, or whether officer candidates should be required to attend civilian university undergraduate programs through the ROTP.

In the interim, the CPCC should engage with the RMC Kingston and the RMC St-Jean authorities to address the long-standing culture concerns unique to the military college environment, including the continuing misogynistic and discriminatory environment and the ongoing incidence of sexual misconduct. Progress should be measured by metrics other than the number of hours of training given to cadets. The Exit Survey of graduating cadets should be adapted to capture cadets’ experiences with sexual misconduct or discrimination.

Human Resources

As part of this comprehensive Review, I was required to assess “performance evaluation and promotion systems in the [CAF], with a focus on how leaders are selected and trained.” I was also invited to make recommendations “on any further changes to the performance evaluation system and the promotion system used in the CAF with a focus on how senior leaders are selected, while the CAF and the [DND] are proceeding with improvementsEndnote 999.”

I have no reason to doubt the CAF’s competence at training and assessing its members’ technical operational capabilities. But as the breadth of complaints in the recent Heyder and Beattie class actions showed, the CAF has not historically been able to properly assess conduct deficiencies as part of career progression. If it is to improve confidence in its leadership, it must do so. How it manages the careers of its members, including promotions, postings and succession planning is key to understanding how the system can be improved.

As the breadth of complaints in the recent Heyder and Beattie class actions showed, the CAF has not historically been able to properly assess conduct deficiencies as part of career progression. If it is to improve confidence in its leadership, it must do so..

The human resources function falls largely under the authority of the Chief Military Personnel (CMP) who reports directly to the CDS and commands MILPERSCOM. This includes military personnel management, recruitment personnel research, and health and support servicesEndnote 1000. The Director General Military Careers reports to the CMP and is responsible for managing careers (promotions and postings), overseeing the CAF’s appraisal systems, conducting national selection boards for promotion and producing and reviewing career policyEndnote 1001. MILPERSCOM has been described as a “visitor” command, in the sense that it is staffed by CAF members originally from the environmental or other commands, and who typically return to those commands following their time in MILPERSCOM.

Succession planning, on the other hand, is mostly left in the hands of the various commands. Although there is some coordination and tracking by the DGMC, and the various career managers, the DGMC does not control much of the decision-making process, except at junior rank levels. For higher ranks, succession planning is instead governed by orders, policies and practices within each command, and sometimes sub-delegated to particular trades.

This entire process is designed to meet the CAF’s staffing requirements, which were described earlier. Having projected its needs in different environments and occupations, and at different ranks, the CAF has established the process described below for moving people up the leadership ladder.

Performance appraisal and promotions

Promotions and appraisal generally

The legal authority for promotions – and by extension performance appraisal – comes from section 28 of the NDA and Chapter 11 of the QR&O. The NDA provides that officers and NCMs may be promoted “by the Minister or by such authorities of the Canadian Forces as are prescribed in regulationsEndnote 1002.” The QR&O provide that promotion of NCMs and officers below the GOFO level shall take place “in accordance with orders and instructions issued by the Chief of the Defence StaffEndnote 1003.” However, the QR&O do set some limitations on promotion. Subject to the CDS’s power to waive the requirements for promotion in an individual case:

11.02(1) […] no officer or non-commissioned member shall be promoted to higher rank unless:

a) there is an appropriate vacancy in the total establishment for the member’s component;

b) the member is recommended by the appropriate authority; and

c) the member meets such promotion standards and such other conditions as the Chief of the Defence Staff may prescribeEndnote 1004.

The general criteria for promotion and performance appraisal are set out in a series of documents. General policy is provided in DAOD 5059-0, Performance Appraisal of Canadian Forces Members, as well as in a handful of Canadian Forces Administrative Orders and CANFORGENsEndnote 1005. Further direction is provided by the CMP and various organizations under their command including the DGMC, who in turn commands, among others, the Director Military Careers and the Director General Military Personnel Policy.

The CAF is in a transition between its old performance appraisal system, the Canadian Forces Personnel Appraisal System (CFPAS), and a new Performance and Competency Evaluation (PaCE) system. PaCE is currently in phase one of its implementation. Since April 2021, over 1,000 CAF members have been subject to PaCE, and it was set to become mandatory throughout the CAF in April 2022Endnote 1006.

Both the CFPAS and the new PaCE system share some commonalities. According to the current DGMC:

The legacy and new appraisal systems include job descriptions, member aspirations and feedback that culminates in an annual assessment. Both the legacy and new appraisal systems require at least two levels of review, and they each have informal as well as formal dispute resolution mechanismsEndnote 1007.

The legacy system, CFPAS, has been in use since 1997. One of its key functions is to record annual appraisals and feedback in individual Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs). The PER is a one-page form with seven sections for rating a CAF member’s performance and potential, and some limited space for written commentsEndnote 1008. Sections 1, 2 and 7 are merely for identification, acknowledgment, and a few statistics about their service. Section 3 lists their current employment and any new qualifications and skills. But it is sections 4 through 6 that are the core of the performance appraisal. PERs have an accompanying “word picture book” that “provides criteria to assess each factor for each different rankEndnote 1009.”

Section 4, “Performance”, is filled out by the CAF member’s supervisor. It rates their current performance across 17 areas. These include: Leading Change, Working with Others, Accountability, Reliability, Ethics and Values, and Conduct On/Off Duty. There is also a box with nine lines for written comments.

Section 5, “Potential”, is filled out by the reviewing officer. It rates the potential for promotion to the next rank over six areas. The first of these rated areas is “Leadership”, while the others deal mostly with more administrative and routine indicators, such as professional development and administration. There is also an overall “Promotion Recommendation” rating, and another nine-line box for written feedback.

Section 6 provides a small space for written comments under the heading “Additional Review.” It also has boxes for the identifying details and signature of the officer filling it out, in common with sections 4 and 5.

Promotion of NCMs, and junior and senior officers

For NCMs and officers up to the rank of colonel/captain (Navy), the PER system goes hand-in-hand with yearly “selection boards” which decide promotions. According to the DGMC, “[a]ppraisals contribute significantly to the selection-promotion processEndnote 1010.” The guidance and directions for annual selection boards under the CFPAS make this clear.

Before convening selection boards, CAF members’ last three PERs are scored “mathematically” to produce a total score out of 300 points, with PERs from a previous rank counting for 50%. The career manager for the rank then “establishes a cut-off line based on two times the promotion forecastEndnote 1011.” This produces the list of candidates for consideration by the selection board, containing those above the cut-off line.

Selection boards are convened under the authority of the DGMC and require a minimum of four members. Members must be employed within the National Capital Region. Certain people are excluded from sitting on selection boards, including anyone who has been a career manager, and anyone who has sat on the same board for two years runningEndnote 1012. There is an exception to this for legal officer selection boards, which are all presided over by the JAG. All selection board members must have a minimum “C” level in reading in their second official language.

For NCMs, the selection board must be presided by a major, and include a captain and two master warrant officers or one master warrant officer and a warrant officer of four years’ experience or more. For officers, the board president must be at least three ranks senior to the candidates, and the other members at least two ranks seniorEndnote 1013. For example, a selection board for majors must be chaired by a brigadier-general (or higher) while remaining members must be colonels or above.

If a selection board has two or fewer occupations among the candidates, it must also include a non-affiliated member. This non-affiliated member must come from a different trade to those being assessed, and be of equal or higher rank than the other board membersEndnote 1014. Similarly, if a board is considering multiple occupations and the board members are not familiar with one of those occupations, then a rotating member is appointed to provide subject matter expertiseEndnote 1015.

Selection boards review each candidate’s file, and score them out of 100. Sixty points are set aside to assess their performance, and 40 points to assess both their potential and second language ability. The proportion of these 40 points that applies to second language ability increases with rank. The boards are directed to make an “overall assessment, including the multi-year trend in behaviour,” based on the member’s previous PERs, as well as course reports and letters of commendation. Boards must assess at least the three most recent PERs and may consult all the PERs in the last five yearsEndnote 1016. They do not have access to a member’s conduct sheet (addressed further below)Endnote 1017.

I have heard various criticisms of the legacy CFPAS system and use of PERs, both from individual stakeholders and from leadership. A recurring concern is that the officer signing the PER, for example under the “Additional Review” section, is given significant – even disproportionate – weight.

I also heard that units conduct their own internal rankings of members before formally scoring their PERs. The PER forms are then sent to an officer with orders to provide appropriate comments and/or scores justifying the rankingsEndnote 1018. I was even provided with an example of a spreadsheet designed to turn the informal ranking process into a series of scores for individual PERs. The MGERC has concluded that such practices are contrary to CFPAS policy, and highlighted this as a systemic issueEndnote 1019. While the CAF-wide direction regarding PERs for 2019‑2020 stated that this practice “has ceasedEndnote 1020,” stakeholders told me that it continues to be an issue. In other words, the process of appraising a CAF member’s performance on an individual basis is being subverted and replaced with a process of assigning PER scores based on an informal ranking exercise.

Rather than rely on the apparent impartiality of a system on its face, the CAF would be well-advised to recognize this reality as it moves forward.

However objective the design of the CFPAS and PER system, it clearly can be circumvented. And indeed, it often is. This may in turn create an enabling environment that undermines the intent to promote based solely on merit. Whether deliberately, or by conscious or unconscious bias, those responsible for promotion may steer their favoured candidates up the ranks and hold back the careers of others.

This inference is supported by the CAF’s own data. The following series of graphs illustrate the rank progression for various employment equity groups in the CAF, for both NCMs and officers. Although presented by the Minister’s Advisory PanelEndnote 1021, the underlying data is taken from the 2019 CAF Employment Equity Report.

The stark reality is that, while women make up 16.3% of the CAFEndnote 1022, their numbers are concentrated in the lower ranks. They are increasingly underrepresented at each higher rank. The equally dire situation of other minority groups confirms the inference of systemic bias.

NCMs make up the largest part of the CAF. And although at the rank of sergeant or below, 12-15% of NCMs are women, this decreases to under 10% by the top NCM rank of chief warrant officer.

Figure 6. CAF Non-Commissioned Members by Rank

CAF Non-Commissioned Members by Rank

  • Long description of Figure 6
    - Private Corporal Master Corporal Sergeant Warrant Officer Master Warrant Officer Chief Warrant Officer
    White Men 69.6% 74% 75% 77.2% 80.7% 85.4% 86.9%
    White Women 14.8% 12% 13.7% 14.9% 13.2% 9.6% 8.9%
    Indigenous Men 4.8% 4.8% 3.3% 2.3% 1.9% 1.9% 1.1%
    Indigenous Women 1.2% 1.2% 0.8% 1.1% 0.6% 0.6% 0.4%
    Visible Minorities Men 7.9% 7.9% 8.7% 5.8% 3.1% 2.3% 2.2%
    Visible Minorities Women 1.6% 1.2% 0.9% 0.7% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
    Persons with Disabilities Men 0.7% 0.7% 1.2% 1.2% 1.3% 1.4% 1.3%
    Persons with Disabilities Women 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.02% 0.08% 0.1%

    LGBTQ2+ Data not available

    Source-2019 CAF EE Report Note: Only Canadian Army ranks are used as a space saving measure.

Figure 7. CAF Non-Commissioned Members by EE Group

Figure 7. MCAF Non-Commissioned Members by EE Group.

  • Long description of Figure 7
    - Private Corporal Master Corporal Sergeant Warrant Officer Master Warrant Officer Chief Warrant Officer
    White Women 14.8% 12% 13.7% 14.9% 13.2% 9.6% 8.9%
    Indigenous Men 4.8% 4.8% 3.3% 2.3% 1.9% 1.9% 1.1%
    Indigenous Women 1.2% 1.2% 0.8% 1.1% 0.6% 0.6% 0.4%
    Visible Minorities Men 7.9% 7.9% 8.7% 5.8% 3.1% 2.3% 2.2%
    Visible Minorities Women 1.6% 1.2% 0.9% 0.7% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
    Persons with Disabilities Men 0.7% 0.7% 1.2% 1.2% 1.3% 1.4% 1.3%
    Persons with Disabilities Women 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.02% 0.08% 0.1%

    Source-2019 CAF EE Report

    LGBTQ2+ Data not available

And the decline of these groups through the ranks, rather than progress, is equally stark among officers.

Figure 8. CAF Officers by Rank.

Figure 8. CAF Officers by Rank

  • Long description of Figure 8

    CAF Officers by Rank

    - Officer Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Lieutenant Captain Major Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Brigadier General Major General Lieutenant General General
    White men 73.4% 72.5% 77.8% 80.2% 78.7% 83.1% 90.1% 88.9% 91.4% 90% 100%
    White women 21.5% 18.2% 30% 22.6% 17.8% 14.3% 8% 12.2% 5.7% 10% 0%
    Indigenous Men 1.5% 1.6% 1.2% 1.5% 1.4% 1.2% 0.7% 0% 2.9% 0% 0%
    Indigenous Women 0.8% 0.6% 1.4% 0.8% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Visible Minorities – Men 12% 17.6% 8.9% 7.9% 5.3% 3.2% 1.9% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Visible Minorities – Women 3.8% 3.4% 3.5% 1.9% 1.1% 0.6% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Persons with Disabilities – Men 0.9% 0.4% 1.1% 0.8% 0.7% 0.5% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Persons with Disabilities – Women 0.2% 0.2% 0.7% 0.4% .08% .06% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

    SOURCE: Anti-Racism Panel Final Report, p.18, Figure 5.

    LGBTQ2+ Data not available


Figure 9. CAF Officers by EE Group

Figure 9. CAF Officers by EE Group

  • Long description of figure 9
    - Officer Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Lieutenant Captain Major Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Brigadier General Major General Lieutenant General General
    White women 21.5% 18.2% 30% 22.6% 17.8% 14.3% 8% 12.2% 5.7% 10% 0%
    Indigenous Men 1.5% 1.6% 1.2% 1.5% 1.4% 1.2% 0.7% 0% 2.9% 0% 0%
    Indigenous Women 0.8% 0.6% 1.4% 0.8% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Visible Minorities – Men 12% 17.6% 8.9% 7.9% 5.3% 3.2% 1.9% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Visible Minorities – Women 3.8% 3.4% 3.5% 1.9% 1.1% 0.6% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Persons with Disabilities – Men 0.9% 0.4% 1.1% 0.8% 0.7% 0.5% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
    Persons with Disabilities – Women 0.2% 0.2% 0.7% 0.4% .08% .06% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

    LGBTQ2+ Data not available

    Source: Anti-Racism Panel Final Report, p.18, Figure 6.

The data provided to me by the DGMC regarding promotion and gender trends is also telling. The following table is from a spreadsheet prepared for me by the DGMC showing gender trends across the various CAF selection boards for the years 2015-2020

Table 14 – Annual Selection Board Summary 2015 – 2020Endnote 1023

Performance Year For Promotion in Files Reviewed Women Men % Women % Men
2015/2016 2017 11535 1783 9752 15.46% 84.54%
2016/2017 2018 12505 2034 10471 16.27% 83.73%
2017/2018 2019 11973 2016 9957 16.84% 83.16%
2018/2019 2020 12490 2158 10332 17.28% 82.72%
2019/2020 2021 14259 2173 12086 15.24% 84.76%
Performance Year For Promotion in Pers Reviewed Women Promoted Men Promoted % Women % Men
2015/2016 2017 3633 583 3050 16.05% 83.95%
2016/2017 2018 4273 708 3565 16.57% 83.43%
2017/2018 2019 4365 771 3594 17.66% 82.34%
2018/2019 2020 4273 776 3497 18.16% 81.84%
2019/2020 2021 4144 719 3425 17.35% 82.65%

The top part of this table shows the total files put forward to and reviewed by selection boards for promotion for ranks up to lieutenant colonel / commander (i.e. those above the cut-off line described above) for promotion in the years 2017 to 2021, and the proportions of women and men in respect of these totals. The bottom part of the table shows how many of each gender were in fact promoted by selection boards, and the proportion of the total promoted.

What these data show is that, from 2015-16 to 2019-20 (for promotion from 2017-2021 respectively), only 16-18% of members promoted were women, according to CAF data. Although the raw numbers of women promoted increased between 2015-16 and 2019-20, the overall proportion of women promoted compared to men remained fairly static.

I was also provided with a table from the DGMPRA showing promotion rates for senior ranks calculated as the number of promotions divided by the number of members eligible for promotion based on years in rankEndnote 1024. To illustrate this using a hypothetical example, if 20 men and 10 women were eligible for promotion to a given rank, and 10 men and 5 women were promoted, the promotion rate would be 50% for both men and for womenEndnote 1025. According to this information, promotion rates at these ranks were similar for women and men. However, the way this proportion is calculated depends on the underlying numbers of women and men eligible for promotion in a given year, which may or may not be proportionate to the overall proportions of women and men in the CAF (or wider society). In other words, this data does not assist in determining how many women are promoted versus the overall female population of the CAF and wider society.

Although both these datasets suggest that the selection board process may not be actively disadvantaging women’s chances of promotion, other documents provided to me tended to show promotion rates that were either the same as current ratios of women to men in the CAF, or in which promotion of women was lower than expected for particular tradesEndnote 1026.

That said, there is evidence that representation is increasing incrementally, particularly at certain rank levels. In a DRDC study of data from 2001-2021, there was a slow upwards trend in the representation rates of women in the Reg F. Overall, according to DGMPRA, the Reg F increased from 11.9% of women overall in 2001-02 to 16% of women in 2021‑22. For officers, the upwards trend was a little more marked. In 2001-02, 13.8% of officers were women, rising to 20% in 2021. However, when combined with the representation of women in the P Res, these figures decreased due to a downward trend for Reserve NCMs up to 2011-12 with the overall representation of women remaining staticEndnote 1027. See Figure 10 for further details.

Figure 10. Representation rates of women by rank group; RegF, PRes, and combined.

Figure 10. Representation rates of women by rank group; RegF, PRes, and combined.

  • Long description of Figure 10
    FY RegF PRes RegF + PRes
    Officers NCMs All Ranks Officers NCMs All Ranks Officers NCMs All Ranks
    01/02 13.8% 11.4% 11.9% - - - - - -
    02/03 14.1% 11.7% 12.3% 16.7% 21.2% 20.5% 14.7% 14.8% 14.8%
    03/04 14.5% 11.8% 12.4% 16.4% 20.8% 20.1% 15.0% 14.8% 14.8%
    04/05 14.6% 12.0% 12.6% 16.7% 20.2% 19.6% 15.1% 14.8% 14.9%
    05/06 15.0% 12.4% 13.0% 16.7% 19.5% 19.1% 15.4% 14.8% 15.0%
    06/07 15.6% 12.6% 13.3% 16.3% 18.9% 18.5% 15.7% 14.8% 15.0%
    07/08 15.9% 12.8% 13.6% 16.4% 18.3% 18.0% 16.0% 14.8% 15.1%
    08/09 16.4% 13.0% 13.8% 16.6% 17.8% 17.6% 16.4% 14.7% 15.1%
    09/10 16.5% 12.9% 13.8% 16.1% 17.6% 17.3% 16.4% 14.6% 15.0%
    10/11 16.7% 12.8% 13.8% 16.2% 17.1% 17.0% 16.6% 14.3% 14.8%
    11/12 16.8% 12.9% 13.8% 16.6% 16.8% 16.8% 16.8% 14.2% 14.7%
    12/13 16.8% 13.2% 14.1% 16.5% 16.7% 16.6% 16.8% 14.3% 14.8%
    13/14 16.8% 13.4% 14.2% 16.6% 16.6% 16.6% 16.8% 14.4% 14.9%
    14/15 17.2% 13.4% 14.3% 16.7% 16.6% 16.6% 17.1% 14.4% 15.0%
    15/16 17.3% 13.5% 14.4% 16.7% 16.4% 16.4% 17.2% 14.3% 15.0%
    16/17 17.8% 13.7% 14.7% 16.3% 16.6% 16.5% 17.4% 14.6% 15.2%
    17/18 18.5% 13.9% 15.1% 16.6% 16.3% 16.4% 18.1% 14.6% 15.4%
    18/19 19.2% 14.2% 15.4% 16.9% 16.2% 16.3% 18.7% 14.8% 15.7%
    19/20 19.6% 14.3% 15.7% 17.2% 16.5% 16.7% 19.0% 15.1% 16.0%
    20/21 20.0% 14.6% 16.0% 17.2% 16.9% 16.9% 19.3% 15.4% 16.3%
    21/22 20.0% 14.6% 16.0% 17.2% 16.8% 16.9% 19.3% 15.3% 16.3%

For senior officers in the Reg F, trends were more marked, although the starting proportions were very low. CAF data shows female lieutenant-colonels/commanders in the Reg F went from 4.7% in 2001-02 to 17.6% in 2021-22. Female colonels/captains (Navy) went from 4.4% to 11%, and female GOFOs increased from 2.7% to 9.4%. By contrast, the overall trend for the P Res remained essentially static for lieutenant-colonels and GOFOs, and actually saw a decrease for colonels from just under 10% in 2001-02 to 6.5% in 2021-22Endnote 1028.

Figure 11. Representation rates of women at LCol/Cdr and above; RegF, PRes, and combined.

Figure 11. Representation rates of women at LCol/Cdr and above; RegF, PRes, and combined.

  • Long description of Figure 11
    FY RegF PRes RegF + PRes
    GOFO Col/Capt(N) LCol/Cdr GOFO Col/Capt(N) LCol/Cdr GOFO Col/Capt(N) LCol/Cdr
    01/02 2.7% 4.4% 4.7% - - - - - -
    02/03 1.4% 4.7% 5.1% 9.1% 8.9% 8.0% 2.4% 5.3% 5.8%
    03/04 1.4% 4.4% 5.5% 7.7% 8.3% 7.3% 2.4% 4.9% 5.9%
    04/05 4.1% 3.8% 5.8% 7.1% 8.5% 8.0% 4.5% 4.4% 6.4%
    05/06 3.8% 3.9% 6.4% 11.8% 8.8% 7.9% 5.2% 4.7% 6.8%
    06/07 4.8% 4.1% 7.1% 5.0% 7.5% 7.4% 4.9% 4.7% 7.1%
    07/08 3.8% 4.0% 7.2% 9.1% 5.1% 6.9% 5.0% 4.2% 7.1%
    08/09 2.4% 3.6% 7.9% 13.6% 6.3% 7.4% 4.7% 4.2% 7.7%
    09/10 2.2% 3.9% 8.1% 5.9% 5.0% 6.5% 2.7% 4.1% 7.7%
    10/11 2.1% 3.8% 8.8% 6.3% 6.8% 6.8% 2.7% 4.3% 8.2%
    11/12 3.0% 4.8% 8.9% 7.1% 6.5% 7.1% 3.5% 5.0% 8.5%
    12/13 4.0% 4.8% 9.7% 7.7% 6.7% 6.7% 4.4% 5.1% 9.0%
    13/14 4.2% 4.5% 10.1% 8.3% 7.1% 7.6% 4.6% 4.9% 9.5%
    14/15 4.9% 5.9% 10.4% 9.1% 9.6% 7.5% 5.3% 6.5% 9.7%
    15/16 3.9% 6.3% 11.2% 15.4% 9.6% 9.5% 5.2% 6.8% 10.8%
    16/17 6.5% 6.3% 11.7% 13.3% 8.6% 9.4% 7.3% 6.7% 11.2%
    17/18 8.5% 6.9% 13.8% 20.0% 4.9% 9.3% 9.8% 6.6% 12.8%
    18/19 8.9% 9.5% 14.8% 20.0% 4.8% 10.1% 10.1% 8.8% 13.6%
    19/20 10.5% 8.7% 17.0% 8.3% 6.3% 10.4% 10.3% 8.4% 15.3%
    20/21 10.1% 10.4% 17.6% 8.3% 6.5% 10.6% 9.9% 9.7% 15.8%
    21/22 9.4% 11.0% 17.6% 9.1% 6.5% 10.0% 9.4% 10.2% 15.6%

In my view, despite some gains in certain ranks, the CFPAS and PER system have failed to achieve a meaningful overall increase of female representation in senior ranks.

In my view, despite some gains in certain ranks, the CFPAS and PER system have failed to achieve a meaningful overall increase of female representation in senior ranks. Nor do they provide women with fair opportunities for promotion. Instead of progress, representation has either remained static or led to small increases that are not universal across all trades and rank levels. Further, there is evidence that “leadership has learned how to game the system to get their [chosen] subordinates aheadEndnote 1029.” And as the data show, they have generally selected for promotion those who most resemble them, resulting in the exclusion of women and other employment equity groups. Efforts to improve the culture, such as Operation HONOUR, have had limited impact in improving the advancement of women within the CAF to date.

I acknowledge that there have been recent changes to how selection boards are formed and conduct business. In 2021-22, scoring criteria were subjected to GBA+. It is planned to continue this yearly to “assess how the scoring criteria may cause potential barriers and disadvantages to diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse membersEndnote 1030.” In addition, the selection boards for promotion are now required to have a minimum of one voting member from an employment equity group or the Defence Team Pride Network. And additional “bias awareness training” was provided to selection boardEndnote 1031s.

While these changes to the practices of selection boards are to be welcomed, it is difficult to predict whether they will have a real impact on the promotion of women and employment equity groups. However, the CAF should maintain these measures and continue to review its promotions processes and consider whether and how it is ensuring a sustainable, diverse and ethical leadership for the future.

Another problem with PERs (and the CFPAS that relies on them) is the limited possibility for recording past (mis)conduct issues. There is no specific area on the form for this purpose. As such, the only space for recording conduct issues is in the nine-line comment boxes. With respect to recording conduct issues, the CFPAS policy states:

[…] administrative, medical and/or disciplinary problems are to be commented on when they result in restricted employment and/or affect the individual’s performance, deportment, behaviour and/or bearing;

[…] convictions under the Criminal Code of Canada or the National Defence Act that occur during the reporting period must be detailed in a brief factual statement (including date of conviction) when the conviction results in restricted employment, has an adverse effect on performance, or results in a reduction in rank as a result of a sentence awarded by a service tribunal;

[…] charge laid against the individual in the reporting period but which has not been resolved […] will only be mentioned in the PER, in the case of the Regular Force, with NDHQ/DMCSS 2’s written authorization and in the case of the Reserve Force, IAW the appropriate Environmental Command order or equivalent direction. Authority will only be granted on an individual basis […] and normally only when the accused person has freely admitted to all of the particulars after being properly cautioned and afforded the opportunity to consult legal counselEndnote 1032

There are several obvious problems with this approach. First, the space afforded to discuss conduct issues, which may be complex or nuanced, is very limited and must be shared with other comments about the member’s overall performance.

Second, the policies above are highly restrictive. In the case of a conviction under the Criminal Code or the NDA, it is not immediately clear what types of convictions will result in “restricted employment.” I was told that COs are granted a wide discretion in this regard, although typical situations include a custodial sentence, loss of a driver’s licence (where driving is an expected duty), or the loss of a security clearanceEndnote 1033. Unless there is an ancillary order made regarding a convicted sex offender, sexual offences may not necessarily restrict a CAF member’s employment in their occupation or trade, particularly if charged as a non-Criminal Code disciplinary offence. Nor is it clear how other types of convictions (e.g., theft) will be assessed as having an adverse effect on a CAF member’s performance if not directly related to an aspect of their job (e.g., financial management). In the case of charges laid but not yet resolved, the recording of such matters is restricted to cases where the member has freely confessed to the crime. It introduces an additional bureaucratic hurdle by requiring high-level approval in writing and the appreciation of the voluntariness of a confession – a matter frequently disputed in courts.

Finally, in the case of “administrative, medical and/or disciplinary problems,” these must again directly affect the member’s occupation, performance or behaviour. It is not clear whether administrative or disciplinary action over sexual misconduct would be seen to have any such effects with respect to the perpetrator.

The fact that selection boards only consider the last three to five years of PERs also reduces the visibility of older conduct issues. Criminal Code and NDA convictions and charges may only be included if they occur during the reporting period of the PER. This means that they will not appear on subsequent PERs. Administrative and disciplinary problems may be commented on repeatedly, but there is a lack of guidance around how and whether this should take place. The likelihood is that even serious misconduct will not appear to any selection board more than five years later, and may not adversely affect the member’s potential for promotion. While people change, more visibility on character flaws could prevent discredit to the organization, particularly when it comes to appointments at the most senior ranks.

The new PaCE System for performance appraisal

According to the DGMC:

PaCE is digital, built on over a decade of research, and is aligned with best practices in both industry and academia. Underpinned by the CAF [Competency Dictionary] […], PaCE is a return to a focus on our values. PaCE is a significant improvement over CFPAS in that it includes bias awareness training, contains score inflation control measures integral to the program, and provides a more evidence-based method with which to assess potentialEndnote 1034.

In April 2021, PaCE was rolled out for over 1,000 CAF members as part of phase one of its implementation. Unlike the CFPAS, which is largely paper-based, PaCE is fully digital. According to the PaCE webpage:

Performance is evaluated using competencies, which are global, broad, and comprehensive characteristics that include Knowledge, Skills, Ability, and Other Attributes (KSAOs), such as values and personality traits, which are linked to strategic organizational goals. Competencies, like diamonds, have many sides called facets to describe them. For example, the competency called Teamwork consists of the facets of Collaboration, Enabling Team Goals, Team Optimization, Team Morale, and Team Communication; the competency called Credibility and Influence consists of the facets of Confidence, Accountability, Reliability, Inspiration, Art of Influence, and Impact; etc. Each facet is described by a rank-specific Behavioral Indicator (BI), which is a simple statement that describes average and effective performance using observable behaviour. For example, the facet of Team Optimization for a Corporal is “Integrates self into the team quickly”, while for a Master-Corporal it is, “Integrates new members into the team quickly”. There are 19 different competencies. The number of competencies you are evaluated on depends on your rankEndnote 1035.

In addition, some members will be evaluated for potential across five domains: Social Capacities, Professional Ideology, Expertise, Change Capacities, and Cognitive CapacitiesEndnote 1036. There is a detailed competency list for each rank from corporal/sailor 1st class up to brigadier-general/commodoreEndnote 1037. These are also set out in the CAF Competency Dictionary for ranks up to major-general/rear-admiralEndnote 1038. Beyond these core CAF competencies, members will be evaluated based on functional competencies set by their trade or occupation and environmentEndnote 1039.

The implementation of PaCE consists of four partsEndnote 1040:

  1. A job description, documenting a member’s current and former jobs within the CAF. A supervisor has the possibility of adding additional duties or information to the standard job description on a case-by-case basis.
  2. A “Member Aspiration Profile” that “[a]ssists the member in developing realistic expectations and setting goals.”
  3. Feedback notes, which will be viewable to members only after an in-person or telephone debriefing session.
  4. A Performance Appraisal Report (PAR), replacing the PERs in current use. The PAR includes boxes for rating each facet of the member’s competencies, using six ratings (ineffective, somewhat effective, effective, highly effective, extremely effective, and not observed)Endnote 1041.

PaCE mirrors, to an extent, current performance appraisal practices in the private sector. Competency assessment, goal-setting, and detailed real-time feedback are all common in contemporary performance appraisal systems. However, given its newness, it is impossible to assess whether PaCE will avoid the problems identified with the CFPAS and PERs. As I understand it, selection boards will continue to be run as before but with a new scoring system that aligns with PaCE. A key factor will be whether leadership is still able to game the system by assigning artificial scores based on an arbitrary ranking of members at the unit level. Given that the new PAR uses a ranking system for each competency facet, it is possible that such practices may continue.

Another drawback to the PAR is that it too offers relatively little opportunity to record conduct issues than the PER. There is a three-line box in the performance appraisal section limited to 267 characters in English or 360 characters in FrenchEndnote 1042. A similar box is available in the reviewing officer comments and higher-level review ranking sectionsEndnote 1043. In addition, the PAR includes a reporting period misconduct assessment. The author must first select if the conduct is ‘acceptable’ or ‘unacceptable’. If conduct is unacceptable it opens a free-form text box of 104 characters (roughly a 1.2 line sentence) to concisely describe the issue. These provide extremely limited space to discuss any issues such as an administrative or disciplinary action, or criminal convictions. At first glance, PaCE appears to offer even less opportunity to take account of conduct issues (including sexual misconduct) than the CFPAS.

On the other hand, the competencies list includes various competencies and facets that allow for indirectly recording concerns. For example, the Ethical Reasoning competency includes facets such as “promoting ethical climate” and “moral decisionsEndnote 1044.” The Interpersonal Relations competency includes “culture of respect” and creating and maintaining a unit environment that promotes trustEndnote 1045. This is an improvement on the old PER, in that conduct, ethical reasoning and moral leadership may now be assessed and given a score.

Furthermore, according to MILPERSCOM instructions on the performance appraisal process, all CAF members will be required to demonstrate inclusive behavioursEndnote 1046. List of action items for the CAF executive cadreEndnote 1047 and general CAF members are provided, and performance in respect of these action items should be recorded through the “feedback notes” section of PaCEEndnote 1048.

Nonetheless, I am not convinced that such indirect ratings provide sufficient opportunity to take into account sexual misconduct and other forms of discriminatory attitudes in evaluating CAF members for promotion and leadership roles. The competencies and facets which relate to conduct or ethics form a relatively small part of the overall assessment. And there is no opportunity to provide a rationale for a particular rating beyond the single 270-character comments box (in the English version). In my view, this does not give sufficient room to capture a member’s past transgressions, particularly where such transgressions are serious and may affect their character, ability or moral standing to lead the CAF of the future. Like the old PERs, the new PAR places too great an emphasis on performance, and not enough on conduct. This is not to suggest that all forms of misconduct should be a disqualifier, in perpetuity, for advancement in the CAF. But visibility on these issues will ensure not only that their relevance is assessed in the context of each case, but also that the CAF will avoid the pitfalls of willful blindness.

In order to remedy this problem, each CAF member’s supervisor should certify – to their knowledge – whether the member is subject to an investigative or other process relating to sexual misconduct.

Recommendation #30

A section should be added to the PAR requiring the supervisor to certify that, to their knowledge, the CAF member being appraised is not currently subject to any investigation or proceeding, whether criminal, disciplinary, administrative or otherwise, related to allegations of sexual misconduct.

If the supervisor is aware of such an investigation or proceeding, they should not reveal its existence if doing so would compromise its integrity.

Otherwise, the supervisor should provide all relevant details of the investigation or proceeding.

Further, I am concerned that the new PARs offer no more opportunity for consideration of past conduct issues than do the old PERs. A key feature of both the legacy CFPAS system and the new PaCE system is that selection boards review only the PER or PARs, and do not have access to a CAF member’s complete personnel record. As I understand it, each CAF member has a central file held by the DMCA as well as a unit personnel record (UPR)Endnote 1049. Neither of these is provided to selection boards.

From what I gather, the only opportunity that selection boards currently have to consider conduct issues is through the review of the PER/PAR. This is problematic. In my view, the CAF should identify categories of serious misconduct, for example sexual harassment, relevant offences under the Code of Service Discipline, and Criminal Code sexual offences. A conduct record should be produced by an appropriate unit under the CMP, to be included with each candidate’s file for review by the selection board.

The CAF should also prepare guidance to selection boards on how to take into account past misconduct, including factors such as seriousness of the conduct, the sentence or remedial measures imposed, and any actions by the member to address the issue. The policy should also make appropriate provision for removal of misconduct from the conduct sheet following a formal record suspension for a Criminal Code offence.

Recommendation #31

A past misconduct sheet should be prepared for each candidate considered for promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel/commander or above, or to the rank of chief warrant officer/chief petty officer 1st class, by an appropriate unit under the CMP. The past misconduct should include anything the CAF deems to be serious misconduct, but should include at a minimum, convictions for Criminal Code sexual offences and findings of sexual harassment. The CAF should also prepare appropriate guidance to selection boards on how to take past misconduct into account as part of their deliberations and decision-making. Finally, the CAF should make appropriate provision in its policy for rehabilitation, including the removal of criminal convictions for which a record suspension has been granted.

General & Flag Officer promotions

There are presently some 140 GOFOs in the CAFEndnote 1050. There have been concerns that the GOFO cadre had grown too large in recent years, particularly in comparison to allies – as evidenced by a study done in fall 2021Endnote 1051. It is beyond the scope of this Review to comment on these types of issues. I will simply point out that the CAF has tremendous expertise in planning, including projections of its staffing needs. My focus is on the features of the GOFO cadre that influence the CAF culture responsible for sexual misconduct.

Of the 140 GOFOs, 15 are women, one is black and one is indigenous. Seventy-two come from the Army, of which five are women; 47 come from the RCAF, of which six are women; and 21 come from the Navy, of which four are women. Of the 15 women in the GOFO ranks, two are at the rank of lieutenant-general; four at the major-general/rear admiral rank; and nine are at the entry rank of brigadier-general/commodore. The CDS is, and has always been, a man. Both the Review Team and I met with a number of former and serving GOFOs during this Review, including all but three of the female members of the current GOFO cadre.

The appointing authority for promotion to the rank of brigadier-general is the Minister, on the recommendation of the CDSEndnote 1052. In practice, this is a three-stage process. Initially, there is a selection board process, which resembles those for NCMs and officers of colonel rank and below. This consists of National Selection Boards 1, 2 and 3 which are intended to “identify talent pools of officers that may be considered for promotion to, or within the GOFO cadreEndnote 1053.”

National Selection Board no. 3 establishes talent pools for promotion to commodore/brigadier-general. The Service Commanders nominate the candidates “in consultation with senior occupational advisers” and based on criteria from the VCDS. The candidate list is then vetted by the Director of Senior Appointments (DSA) and the VCDS before submission to the board. I was told this was “to ensure files meet the required criteria and that other competitive files were not excludedEndnote 1054.” Boards are separated by component; Reg F members compete only against Reg F members and Res F members only against other reservists.

National Selection Board no. 2 considers all commodores/brigadier-generals nominated by their services for promotion. They must have at least one appraisal in rank and not be about to retire or have opted out. National Selection Board no. 1 considers all rear-admirals/major-generals other than those who opt out or are retiring. For both boards, the CDS approves the candidate lists. Of note, National Selection Board no. 2 will consider all eligible Res F files for the first time in 2022.

The VCDS chairs the three GOFO boards. The other members are the three environmental commanders (i.e., the Army, Navy and Air Force), as well as the CMP. The DGMC sits as non-voting secretary on National Selection Boards no. 1 and no. 2, and the DSA on National Selection Board no. 3. In 2021-22, the CPCC and the ADM(HR-Civ) also joined the boardsEndnote 1055. This year was the first time a non-CAF member formed part of the boards. I welcome this addition as a first step in the right direction. But the CAF would do well to add truly external actors to its career management processes.

For all three boards, each board member scores candidates out of 100. These scores are then aggregated to produce a total score out of 600 (i.e., 100 times the number of voting board members)Endnote 1056. The candidates are then grouped into talent pools. Each GOFO selection board has three talent pools, A, B and C. Talent pool A consists of candidates assessed as ready for immediate promotion, and pool B are suitable for promotion but would benefit from further development in the current rank or as suitable for “acting while so employed” positionsEndnote 1057. Talent pool C applies only to National Selection Board no. 3, and are those individuals who would benefit from further development in the current rankEndnote 1058.

According to the DGMC, “the talent pool approach was introduced to GOFO selection boards to permit promotion recommendations that balance merit with best-fitEndnote 1059.” While this may make sense from a practical perspective, it risks further marginalizing gender-diverse candidates or candidates from other equity-seeking groups.

The second stage consists of deliberation “in an iterative manner” by the AFC Executive, consisting of the CDS and all serving vice-admirals and lieutenant-generals. These deliberations result in a promotions nomination package for those individuals the CDS will recommend to the MinisterEndnote 1060. Following the AFC Executive’s decision, further due diligence checks (including the new multi-rater 360-degree assessments discussed below) are carried out. The Service Commander prepares a narrative attesting to the candidate’s character, leadership and service, and the CDS then adds personal review and commentary.

The third stage consists of review by the Minister in consultation with the CDS. In order to ensure meaningful oversight by her office of GOFO promotions, I believe that the Minister should be assisted in that task by a senior civilian advisor, not currently a member of the Defence Team. In her consultation with the CDS, the Minister should examine what efforts are made to correct the over-representation of white men in GOFO ranks.

Recommendation #32

In fulfilling her responsibility in approving GOFO promotions, the Minister should be assisted by a senior civilian advisor, not currently a member of the Defence Team. In her consultation with the CDS, the Minister should examine what efforts are being made to correct the over-representation of white men in GOFO ranks.

GOFOs will have been in the CAF for decades by the time they obtain their first star, and have had a panoply of postings inside the organization, but virtually no external work experience. They will typically have been “talent spotted” and carefully career-managed from early on in their careers. In other words, the whole system of career management and succession planning is heavily invested in their development and promotion. They are locked into an exclusive club that is self-regulated, and into which no outsider will ever be admitted. The only exception to this are Res F members promoted to GOFO rank. Those individuals often have work experience in industry, government or other sectors. They may have a broader perspective given their exposure to wider Canadian society. For this reason, I welcome the addition of Res F members to National Selection Board no. 2.

It is critically important for senior leaders to embody the values the CAF seeks to impart. This means demonstrating personal strength of character, as well as the highest levels of moral and ethical judgment in line with contemporary Canadian values. This point has been made time and again throughout the inquiries and external reviews of the military since the 1990s.

As such, when considering promotions to senior leadership levels, it is important to ensure that the processes adequately capture a candidate’s integrity. This should include how they are viewed not only by those who supervise them, but also by those they are required to lead. The CAF has recently made some significant steps in this direction for GOFOs and anyone being put forward for promotion to GOFO rank. On 9 July 2021, the CDS issued a directive introducing psychometric testing and 360-degree review for prospective GOFO candidates. This followed research by the DGMPRA in 2020, and a pilot project conducted in the fall of that yearEndnote 1061.

The CDS directive was implemented in November 2021 through a methodology proposed by the DGMPRAEndnote 1062. This includes psychometric testing followed by a “confirmatory” multi-rater or 360-degree evaluation. In the current 2021-22 iteration, the psychometric testing part of this process uses three tools to assess prospective GOFOs:

  1. the Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, which test general cognitive ability and reasoning;
  2. the Trait Self-Descriptive – Personality Inventory, which assesses aspects of personality associated with success in organizations, including conscientiousness, integrity and agreeableness; and
  3. The Leadership Skills Profile – Revised, a personality-based assessment of leadership skillsEndnote 1063.

The scoring from these three tools is aggregated and passed on to a team under the CMP which then converts the test results and combines them with the multi-rater evaluation results to produce a final synthesized score for use during the selection boardsEndnote 1064.

The CAF has clearly taken some concrete steps to improve its selection of GOFOs. The inclusion of psychometric testing and 360-degree evaluation was much-needed, both to ensure the calibre of CAF leadership at a pivotal moment in its history, and to restore trust in the system to appoint future leaders.

However, it is important that these nascent processes are not seen as a panacea. No system offers perfect objectivity, and the most problematic ones are the ones that think they do, oblivious to the unconscious, and sometimes not-so unconscious, biases that inevitably creep in. As such, these new processes need to be subjected to on-going scrutiny and evaluation. Imposing more stringent measures of evaluation at the top was the right way to start. It will send important signals about the value the CAF places on the character of those who aspire to lead.

Recommendation #33

The new processes for psychometric evaluation and confirmatory 360-degree review used in the promotion of GOFOs should be carefully reviewed by an external expert on an annual basis, with a view to their progressive refinement. The results of this annual review should be reported to the Minister.

While laudable, these recent improvements to GOFO selection do not go far enough. I believe such processes should apply to anyone being considered for unit command or above. This is in line with the DGMC’s plans:

Research and consultation are underway to develop an evidence-based framework for character-based assessments that can be expanded to other leadership ranks in the coming years. The intent is to expand the framework to Major/Lieutenant-Commander and Sergeant/Petty Officer 2nd Class and above levelsEndnote 1065.

Although described as “ambitious and […] resource intensiveEndnote 1066,” such an initiative is to be welcomed and should be expanded.

Recommendation #34

The new processes for GOFOs, including psychometric testing and 360-degree multi-rater assessment should, at a minimum, be expanded to candidates being considered for promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel/commander or above, or to the rank of chief warrant officer/chief petty officer 1st class.

Finally, to restore trust and foster the integrity of the senior officer corps, it is imperative that the requirement to flag any potential conduct issues in relation to sexual misconduct be reinforced at this level. I note that for GOFOs, all candidates for promotion to GOFO rank are required to disclose any administrative or disciplinary action, or any convictions for a civilian offence, in the GOFO Cadre Promotion Nomination Package. They must also attest that other than those matters disclosed, they have not been subject to any administrative or disciplinary action during their military serviceEndnote 1067. In my view, this is a sensible step. I believe that such a measure would also increase the understanding of the seriousness of this type of conduct, and thus serve as an additional deterrent.

Recommendation #35

The PaCE system should be modified to include a self-certification requirement on the PAR for those being considered for promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel/commander or above, or to the rank of chief warrant officer/chief petty officer 1st class, similar to that already in place for GOFO nominations. The candidate would need to certify that they are not subject to any current or prior investigation or proceeding, whether criminal, disciplinary, administrative or otherwise, related to sexual misconduct; and, if they are, provide all relevant details.

Accelerated promotion and the Pink List

The Special Selection Measure for Women, nicknamed the “pink list”, is an employment equity initiative created in 1997 to support the promotion of female officers by increasing their participation in the Joint Command and Staff Programme (JCSP). It has been described as follows:

A female list is created, in addition to the primary and alternate candidate lists, in order to fill up to five additional seats with the five most deserving female candidates that would not otherwise be selected. The selection board derives this additional female list by ranking the top female candidates who meet the basic Staff College student profile and who are not on the primary listsEndnote 1068.

According to the DGMC, the special selection measure is used “when the percentage of female primary JCSP nominees falls below the percentage of females at the [major/lieutenant-commander] ranks in the CAF (~15%)Endnote 1069.” In other words, it is used as a corrective to maintain the proportion of women currently in the major and lieutenant-commander ranks.

The pink list has been met with considerable resistance since its inception. In a 2007 publication that focused on contemporary leadership experiences of women in the CAF,

one author wrote:

One particular policy, commonly dubbed the pink list, has been universally condemned by officers who are in tight competition for positions at the CF Command and Staff Course (CSC) as unfair and allowing women to have an unfair advantage over their male counterparts. Female colleagues have indicated to me that they would be unwilling to go to the CF CSC in a pink seat as it would undermine their credibility and have refused it when offeredEndnote 1070.

However, some have noted that in many cases the pink list itself was poorly understoodEndnote 1071. The need for better messaging regarding the special selection measure has been noted multiple timesEndnote 1072.

It is important to note that although the JCSP is a critical step in readiness for a CO appointment and promotion to the senior strategic levels of the CAF, it is not the only substantial leadership course required. There are numerous such courses, both for officers and senior non-commissioned officers, for example the National Studies Program for prospective GOFOs, or the Army Operations Course for army captains seeking promotion to major. The CAF should consider whether similar special selection measures are needed to enhance or encourage the representation of women on these courses as well.

When I asked stakeholders about quotas, the pushback was very strong, including among many women who fear their qualifications would be questioned under any preferential system. Sadly, it is clear to me that women’s qualifications are always questioned – pink list or no pink list. Many stakeholders referred to the constant need for women to prove themselves before being taken seriously, and with senior officers being passed over at meetings until a male subordinate vouched for them.

The reality is that women have fewer opportunities than men to be promoted, and when they are, the reaction often is: “Oh, it’s because she’s a woman.” Either way, they.

The reality is that women have fewer opportunities than men to be promoted, and when they are, the reaction often is: “Oh, it’s because she’s a woman.” Either way, they lose. If the current trends are not seriously corrected, not only will women not form 25% of the CAF by 2025 – which everyone concedes – but they will always be disproportionately underrepresented in the higher ranks.

The CAF approach to the promotion of women is focused on ensuring promotion is in line with the female CAF population, or current ratios of women to men in a given rank. But this ignores the importance of female role models in both attracting women to the CAF and improving morale among its female members. With little question, the presence of significant numbers of women in decision-making environments helps to counter the self-perpetuating perspective of men, even on issues that may seem gender-neutral on their face.

Women make up nearly half the labour force in Canada. There is no reason why the CAF, like any other modern organization, should not also aim for gender parity. This may seem overly ambitious in a field that is notoriously male-dominated, but there will be little progress if the promotion policies simply aim to maintain current ratios. It will continue to be a challenge as long as there is little representation in the GOFO ranks of members who come from the support trades – where women continue to congregate at the point of entry. This is important. Women will not reach the senior leadership ranks if their occupations, rather than their talents, preclude them.

Given this reality, the CAF should establish a system of targets to increase the number of women above population levels.

Recommendation #36

The CAF should establish a system of progressive targets for the promotion of women in order to increase the number of women in each rank, with a view to increasing the proportion of their representation in the GOFO ranks above their level of representation in the overall CAF workforce.

Career Management & Postings

Career management & postings generally

Every rank and trade in the CAF is assigned a career manager who operates under the authority of the DGMC. Within DGMC, they are split between the Directorate Military Careers (DMC) which manages NCMs up to the ranks of master warrant officer/chief petty officer 2nd class, and officers up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel/commander, and the DSA, which manages the ranks of colonel/captain (Navy) and chief warrant officer/chief petty officer 1st class. The DGMC acts as the career manager for GOFOsEndnote 1073. Career managers work with the individual CAF member as well as various other stakeholders, including the chain of command, branch subject matter experts, and succession plannersEndnote 1074, to meet “short term staffing prioritiesEndnote 1075.”

Career managers are responsible for producing a postings plot for all the individuals they manage. According to the DGMC, in deciding postings, career managers must:

[T]ake into consideration a wide gamut of factors […] to carefully balance the needs of the CAF and the needs of the members. These factors include but are not limited to: Service requirements such as VCDS staffing categories, specific qualifications, career progression, succession planning and attrition, and members’ concerns regarding location preference, spousal employment, dependent education, aging parents, marital status and geographical stabilityEndnote 1076.

In common with succession boards and other areas of personnel management in the CAF, career managers must strive to meet the CAF mantra of the “right person, in the right place, at the right timeEndnote 1077.” The DGMC noted that a particular challenge in management of postings is an increasing reticence by CAF members to move locationsEndnote 1078. I was also told that for married service couples, the usual rule is to attempt co-location, i.e., posting both to the same geographic locale. Splitting up a service couple for a posting requires approval from the DMCEndnote 1079.

As part of creating the postings plot, career managers conduct interviews and a screening process to inform the proposed postings. The screening process involves coordinating with both the losing and gaining COs, and includes screening for a history of repeated misconduct, among other factors. In certain cases, postings may also be managed by the DMC for exceptional situations (e.g., compassionate postings, posting to the CAF Transition Centre, and other exceptional moves)Endnote 1080.

In addition, career managers manage promotions, career course selection and nominations, staff files and initiate administrative action, manage cost moves and annual interviews, and prepare files for selection boardsEndnote 1081.

In many of these areas of responsibility, career managers are supervised by the DMC, the DGMC, or by boards which determine CAF members’ suitability for promotions and postings. But they also retain a degree of discretion. In particular, career managers often succession plan the careers of more junior-ranked officers and NCMs, with little collective oversight. Similarly, the succession planning process does not include everybody. As discussed below, only those individuals showing leadership potential and meeting other requirements, such as remaining years of service, are actively succession planned. CAF members can also opt-out of succession planning (for example because they wish to remain in a particular geographic area). CAF members who are not part of the short- or long-term succession plan are essentially managed by their career manager.

Career managers have been criticized for a lack of accountability, as well as a lack of training in human resourcesEndnote 1082. The DGMC acknowledges that a lack of trained personnel and issues with housing availability have increased the complexity of career managementEndnote 1083. A simple perusal of the DAODs relating to personnel and career management on the DND website shows that career managers must grapple with a complex policy framework, without even considering applicable Canadian Forces Administrative Orders, CANFORGENs or environment and trade-specific directivesEndnote 1084.

I heard from stakeholders that another problem faced by the CAF is the short-term duration of its posting cycle and the constant mobility of its members. In certain cases, this leads to problems where the constant cycling through personnel for a position means nobody builds up the necessary experience to fulfil the functions of the role. Career managers themselves (and MILPERSCOM generally), offer an example of this.

In my view, the CAF should carefully revisit the trades and positions that would benefit from longer-term experiential knowledge. This may start with the human resources function. It should then re-evaluate whether those positions should become either long-term postings or be civilianized. Longer-term postings may allow individuals to build up the necessary experience to perform the functions of the role properly. In other cases, it may be necessary to consider civilianizing the role to permit long-term employment.

As a general observation, the CAF’s addiction to mobility – resulting in multiple short-term postings over the career of a CAF member – is the root cause of many problems. Short stints undermine the full development of skills and expertise in a post; at mid -rank and more senior levels, it encourages the launch of half-baked initiatives, with little chance of accountability for failure. It reduces respect from subordinates who recognize limited skills and competence; at all levels, constant mobility impedes a member’s ability to take ownership and learn from a mistake, at best, and at worst, allows them to ellude taking responsibility entirely. This feeds in to the sense that I have heard expressed by members of the Defence Team that there is a lack of accountability on the part of the chain of command: they leave their mess behind, and it does not follow them to their new posting.

Further, the persistent mobility demands a lot of CAF members and puts a great deal of stress on military families. CAF members, like anyone, need time to develop expertise, build teams, and situate themselves with purpose within the organization. They require the support of their family and community to do all of this successfully.

This is a significant endeavour, which should be undertaken with maximum input from all those directly affected by these practices.

Personnel records

As I understand it, each CAF member has a centralized personnel file held by the MILPERSCOM (the “Guardian” record), and a UPR. The Guardian record is stored electronically on the Personnel Electronic Records Management Information System (PERMIS). In addition, certain “information resources of business value” are recorded, which includes grievances, documentation regarding record suspensions, and various miscellaneous itemsEndnote 1085. Every member also has a “conduct sheet” (which forms part of the UPR). The conduct sheet is prepared “only when an entry is necessary” and records both recognition for exemplary conduct, and criminal convictions. Only COs are empowered to make changes to a conduct sheet. The conduct sheet does not include actions resulting from administrative action, such as a recorded warning, or removals from duty or commandEndnote 1086.

The UPR – including the conduct sheet – is transferred to a member’s unit upon posting. However, certain matters are not retained on the UPR after posting, component transfer (i.e., from the regular to the reserve force or vice versa), or release. UPRs go through a file stripping process both before and after any transferEndnote 1087. In particular, the following records are removed when posting in or out:

  1. Redress of Grievance;
  2. Record of Disciplinary Proceedings;
  3. Military Police reports;
  4. Harassment complaint or investigation documentation;
  5. Pardons (Record Suspension), mention of and/or ref to the statement of offence, the conviction or the sentence in respect of which a pardon has been granted;
  6. Selection Assessment Report (DND 2790);
  7. Human rights complaint documentation;
  8. Summary Investigation (SI)/Board of Inquiry (BOI); and
  9. Self-Identification Census.

Other than the Record of Disciplinary Proceedings, which the originating unit is directed to retain, it is unclear what is supposed to happen to the records stripped from the UPR, or the extent to which information recorded in the UPR is collected and stored centrally in the PERMIS. Units are simply directed to “ensure that pertinent personal information records are contained elsewhereEndnote 1088.”

It is not clear to me, based on the information provided, how well this is done, or to what extent records in the UPR are duplicated in the Guardian record, or otherwise held centrally. Units process thousands of UPRs for file-stripping purposes every year, as members post in and out. I heard from stakeholders that information can and does get lost in the system.

This must be rectified. It is critical for the CAF to maintain visibility over a member’s entire career, and this requires robust procedures to ensure that information about misconduct (including sexual misconduct) stays on record and is accessible to key decision-makers.

Universality of service

The principle of “universality of service” stipulates CAF members must at all times and under any circumstances perform any function that they may be required to performEndnote 1089. According to this principle, a CAF member is a “soldier first” and members are liable to perform general military, common defence, and security duties in addition to the duties of their military occupation. This includes, but is not limited to, the requirement to be physically fit, employable, and deployable for general operational dutiesEndnote 1090. The authority for the principle of universality of service is found in section 33(1) of the NDA, which states:

The regular force, all units and other elements thereof and all officers and non-commissioned members thereof are at all times liable to perform any lawful dutyEndnote 1091.

Universality of service may be breached by medical employment limitations. Temporary medical limitations may be accommodated by the CAF for up to six months. This may lead to a permanent medical limitation which triggers an administrative review for medical employment limitations. As part of this review process, DMCA may make an offer of medical retention for up to three years, subject to approval from the unit COEndnote 1092. At the end of this period the member will be released and may only be considered for employment in the Supplementary Reserve, Canadian Rangers or the Cadets Organizations Administration and Training ServiceEndnote 1093.

In a 2018 report, DRDC found that although fitness standards for men and women are equal:

[T]here remain misconceptions about the application of these standards, particularly with regard to women. It is frequently voiced that women receive special treatment and are allowed to pass in order to satisfy quota requirements. Research has found that women perform equal to men in military tasks, suggesting that there is no need for women to be treated in a different manner. Further, the literature suggests that doing so undermines the achievements of women and reinforces gender stereotypes. It is not always intentionally done and can occur when individuals are attempting to minimize gender differences. In a recent report, it was outlined that 22% of respondents in the 2011 Your Say Survey felt that gender influenced how individuals were assigned to occupations (Wang, 2013)Endnote 1094.

Sexual misconduct, and in particular sexual harassment and sexual assault, presents a particular problem with respect to universality of service. Victims often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related injuries that require therapy. Under current definitions of medical employment limitations and the universality of service requirements, this may result in medical release for those victims.

Furthermore, as the CAF recognized in its 2017 Tiger Team Report: Recruitment of Women in the Canadian Armed Forces, women are often over-represented in medical temporary and permanent categories due to a number of factors, which may lead to their being released for medical reasons in greater numbers than men. The Tiger Team recommended that, although medical fitness is a must to ensure the operational capacity of the military is not diminished, it may be possible to offer longer retention periods for women serving in occupations in which they can continue to contribute effectively while not meeting universality of service requirementsEndnote 1095.

I understand the CAF is currently reviewing its universality of service rule. I welcome this development. However, what has been shown to me so far includes only modest changes to bring the DAOD that deal with fitness and universality of service in line with current practice. They do not update the fitness requirements themselves or respond to any of the findings regarding overrepresentation of women in medical limitation and release categories.

It is important that the CAF, in updating its universality of service policy, continue to apply GBA+ analysis and ensure that the changes it proposes go beyond formal equality to properly accommodate women and sexual misconduct victims. In my view, promoting a gender-blind embrace of diversity is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, as formal, rather than substantive equality always risks doing.

Recommendation #37

The CAF should review universality of service through a GBA+ lens and update it to ensure that women and sexual misconduct victims are treated fairly, taking into account their particular situation and risk factors.

Succession planning

Overview of succession planning

Succession planning is a subset of career management that is intended to establish a talent pool of future leaders with the potential to succeed. The DGMC calls it the “egg model” of career management, in which succession planning is the yolk, and wider career management the egg whiteEndnote 1096. As part of developing its pools of talent, the CAF attempts to talent spot promising individuals early in their military career, and has developed a tiering system, discussed further below, to better assess their potential.

A number of succession plans – both long- and short-term – are developed at different levels in the CAF, although the format varies across the different commands. To be part of the succession plan, an individual must usually have been talent-spotted and assigned a tier. But succession planning is a two-step process. Not only does it involve the CAF looking at the available officers of a given rank and assigning the most promising as successors in key positions, it also involves the active career management and development of its talent spots or “streamers”. In other words, once named to the succession plan, the organization makes special efforts to maximize the career potential of those individuals and give them opportunities that will enable them to achieve high-rank strategic leadership positions in due course.

Canadian Army

Army succession planning generally

The Canadian Army is the largest command in the CAF, with approximately 23,000 Reg F members and 19,000 reservesEndnote 1097. Succession planning, and most appointments at the sub-GOFO level, fall under the authority of the Commander and Deputy Commander of the Army. It is estimated that the Deputy Commander spends as much as 50% of his time devoted to succession planning. The Army has also created the Directorate Army Talent Management, a civilian unit that reports to the Deputy Commander. According to the Director of Army Talent Management, this civilianization served two purposes. First, it enabled greater transparency and continuity in the succession planning process. Second, it allowed for a freer relationship with the chain of command, as well as greater access to personnel files among the team, both of which allow the Directorate to provide more fulsome advice about nominees to particular positions.

Career management and succession planning in the Army is largely decentralized until the lieutenant-colonel level. For lieutenant-colonels who have not yet held a unit command position or equivalent, majors and captains, succession planning is carried out by their corps or regiment, and the results are fed to the Directorate of Army Talent Management for final approval. Similarly, the Res F largely follows a decentralized process based on “home station managers” who oversee the careers and succession planning for their geographic regions.

This process is mirrored for senior NCM/non-commissioned member appointments, which are made outside the formal rank/promotions system and differ from officer appointments. While for officers, the emphasis is on filling positions that stretch them and give them visibility to reach the next rank (and ultimately senior CAF leadership), non-commissioned members may be appointed to particular leadership positions within their rank. Above a certain level, these appointments are handled by the centralized process overseen by the Directorate of Army Talent Management. Loosely speaking, this includes all chief warrant officer positions of Tier 3 and above, such as appointments at the unit, formation/division or Army command levels. For appointments below this level, such as regimental sergeant‑major appointments, succession planning is again handled by the relevant corps, branch or regiment.

While there are central orders and policies for short- and long-term succession planning provided by the Commander of the Army, most notably Canadian Army Order (CAO) 11-79Endnote 1098, these leave a degree of latitude to the directors of the various corps and regiments in terms of both process and substance. The key requirement which is standardized across the Army is the concept of tiering. This places those CAF members who are part of the succession plan into six distinct tiers, intended to reflect their potential for command and key strategic positions.

The tiers are organized as follows:

  1. Tier 1: senior strategic leadership appointment at the commandEndnote 1099 and CAF level beyond the rank of chief warrant officer (for NCMs) and brigadier-general (for officers);
  2. Tier 2: strategic leadership appointments at the rank of chief warrant officer and brigadier-general;
  3. Tier 3: operational leadership or key staff appointments at the rank of chief warrant officer and colonel (such as command of a formation);
  4. Tier 4: tactical leadership appointments at the rank of chief warrant officer (e.g., unit, school or divisional support regimental sergeant-major positions) and lieutenant-colonel (e.g., unit, school or divisional support command);
  5. Tier 5: sub-unit command level, generally captains and majors (e.g., Company/Squadron/Battery Command) or associated sergeant-major positions for NCOs; and
  6. Tier 6: sub-sub unit command (platoon/troop level)Endnote 1100, generally captains.

Tiering corresponds loosely to rank, but it is also used as an indicator of high-performance and readiness for the next level. For example, most captains are un-tiered or Tier 6, but high-performing captains may be given a Tier 5 ranking, indicating that they are ready for sub-unit command. Likewise experienced, high-performing majors may be given a Tier 4 ranking, and so on. This is taken as an indication that the individual is ready for the next rank and level of command.

An additional component of tiering is the concept of “talent spotting.” This is not set out in the formal policy documents but is used in practice and tracked by the Directorate Army Talent Management in the long-term succession planEndnote 1101. It is also given points in the promotion board scoring criteriaEndnote 1102. Talent-spotted individuals, or “streamers” are seen as talented officers who need careful management, having that “little something extra” in comparison with their peers. The aim is that these individuals’ careers will be carefully managed to maximize their development opportunities and move them up ahead of their peers.

Apart from the use of the tiering model, there is a lot of variation in how the various corps, branches and regiments conduct their succession planning. The only requirement from central Army command is that the process must result in short-and long-term succession plans, to be approved by the Canadian Army Succession Board (CASB) and, ultimately, the Army Commander.

Centralized succession planning – senior ranks

Army succession planning is governed by CAO 11-79Endnote 1103. Above Tier 3, the appointing authority is the CDS and/or the Minister, and candidates are recommended by Army Command. For Tier 3 and 4, the appointing authority is the Commander, Canadian Army. Below Tier 4, the appointing authority is the corps/branch/regiment director.

For Tiers 3 and 4, the Army runs two CASBs, one in late November and the other in the spring. These deal with both officer and NCM appointments. Not all members at a given rank will necessarily be part of succession planning. For example, if they do not have enough remaining years of service left to progress beyond their current rank, if they have asked to be taken out of succession planning, or if their tiering has been otherwise downgraded.

For succession-planned individuals, however, the Army develops both a long- and short-term succession plan. The long-term succession plan plots out the expected progression of people based on remaining years of service, potential, and current constraints, looking ahead over the next decade or so. The short-term succession plan looks to the next one to two annual posting seasons and proposes a primary and alternate candidate for each appointment, for approval by the Command, Canadian Army.

The CASB is chaired by the Army Deputy Commander. Its 15 voting members consist of the divisional commanders and reserve home station commanders, all brigadier-generals, as well as an additional voting member at the brigadier-general level from outside the Army. Also in the room and able to participate (although non-voting) are the divisional regimental sergeant majors. The corps/regiment/branch directors (all colonels) are also present (except during the colonel succession planning). The November CASB is focused on senior rank appointments: colonels, school COs, post-unit command lieutenant-colonels, and chief warrant officer appointments at Tier 3 and above. The Spring CASB covers the remaining lieutenant colonels, majors and chief warrant officer appointments.

There is a tightly-defined voting process at CASBs. The brigadier-generals entitled to vote do so in advance of the board. Each voting member ranks the candidates in order of preference (e.g., from 1 to 4 if there are four candidates, 1 to 5 if there are five candidates, and so on). The rankings are then aggregated to provide each candidate with a score. Where there is more than a 1-point difference for an appointment, the position is not re-voted at the board, although it is opened up to discussion. However, if the discussion throws up a significant issue, this may result in a re-vote. Where the voting results in a tie or one-point difference, scoring is “normalized” in any case where there are five or more candidates. The bottom candidates are removed and the remaining candidates are re-ranked taking into account the removals, with scores re-allocated in consequence. If this results in the same ranking of top candidates with more than a one point difference, no re-vote occurs subject to general discussion, as stated above. Otherwise, if the order changes, the position is re-voted.

Before any re-vote, the divisional commanders and corps/branch/regimental directors responsible for a particular candidate will describe them and try to convince their peers of the candidate’s value and potential.

Regimental, corps and branch controls of junior ranks

Regimental/corps/branch succession planning operates at a level below the CASB but feeds into the process. It generally covers pre-command lieutenant-colonels, majors, captains, and senior non-commissioned officer appointments at a lower level. Only Tier 4 majors and above are subject to further scrutiny at the spring CASB. As noted above, the corps/branch/regiments have appointing authority in respect of lower tiers.

I was provided with policy documents relating to succession planning from the various corps, branches and regiments of the ArmyEndnote 1104. From reviewing those policies and attending succession boards across the CAF, it became clear that succession planning at this level of the Army varies greatly. There is a general lack of consistent documentation. Certain corps/branch/regiment have developed detailed scoring matrices for career management and succession planning (e.g., the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals and the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers)Endnote 1105. Others, however, use more rudimentary tools and rely on general discussion at meetings. Members of the Review Team also heard that career managers and corps/branch/regiment directors often do a certain amount of “reinventing the wheel” in preparing for and conducting succession planning.

There is also little consistency in terms of which ranks are actively succession planned. For example, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals only considers Tier 5 and above, and does not succession plan individuals at Tier 6. It carries out succession boards only for majors and lieutenant-colonels. Other corps, such as the Royal Canadian Artillery, also consider Tier 6 individuals including captains at succession boards. The effect of such decisions is to either consolidate power at the regimental board level, or else hand it to individual career managers.

Other factors drawn to my attention in reviewing succession planning at this level were as follows:

  1. There is a lack of staff resources, and the corps/branch/regiment director appointment is usually a secondary duty, meaning relatively little attention overall can be given to succession planning;
  2. The corps/branch/regiment has a lot of power over careers, up to the early lieutenant-colonel level, and the process is personality-driven and has historically varied a lot depending on who the current director is;
  3. There is often a lack of corporate memory; and
  4. There is a lot of flexibility at the corps/branch/regiment levels to designate (or un-designate) a position or posting as “high-range” which impacts a person’s career advancement, both for promotion and succession planning (high-range jobs attract more points in scoring).

This all illustrates the level of discretion, if not arbitrariness, in the process of early career management. In turn, it presents the risk of self-perpetuation, and the corollary risk of marginalization to members who present differently from the historical norm.

Army Reserves

Succession planning for the Army Reserves is also governed by CAO 11-79 and is in the hands of the Reserve home station managers. The home station managers were set up specifically to handle career management of the Res F, because it had become messy and unwieldy. Their establishment and responsibilities in this regard are detailed in CAO 11-92Endnote 1106. Each home station is responsible for managing its Reserve colonels, lieutenant colonels, and chief warrant officers, as well as majors and master warrant officers who have commanded a minor unit – and submitting their respective succession plans to the CASBs.

As with succession planning at the corps/branch/regiment levels, the process varies between the different home stations. I received documentation from four out of the six home stations, namely the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Division Home StationsEndnote 1107. Again, some, such as 2 Div and 4 Div use detailed scoring matrices to succession plan, while others do not. Of course, as noted above for the performance appraisal process, scoring matrices are not in themselves guarantees of objectivity and impartiality. Some also use biographical sketches that include information usually omitted from Reg F profiles, such as marital status, children, and a “miscellaneous” category sometimes used to note family members who served.

Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) consists of 12,570 Reg F members and around 4,111 Reservists, according to its websiteEndnote 1108. The RCN centralizes its succession planning for lieutenant-commanders (equivalent to major) and up. The Navy produces a short- and long-term succession plan, consolidated in the Navy Succession PlanEndnote 1109.

The Navy officer succession planning process is intended to produce:

an objective assessment of the longer term potential of Naval officers to perform in Command, and in the most senior appointments across the CF. Once identified, these officers can be deliberately mentored and managed through the labyrinth of Command and strategic leadership appointments, promotion and professional development opportunities, thus better preparing them for successful fulfillment of senior command, staff and key strategic-level appointments in the futureEndnote 1110.

The Navy Succession Plan is deliberated at the Navy Succession Planning Board (NSPB). Following the NSPB, the results are briefed to the formation commanders who have an opportunity to review and give feedback. The results are then presented to the Chief of the Maritime Staff for endorsementEndnote 1111.

The RCN approaches succession planning on a branch/trade basis. It has developed detailed scoring criteria for each rank and trade (e.g., Naval Warfare Officer, Naval Engineer), and deliberation at the NSPB is largely by trade, subdivided by rank. Also, it is also notable that the RCN integrates Reg F and Res F succession planning into the single NSPBEndnote 1112.

A key difference in the deliberations at the NSPB, as opposed to other branches of the CAF, is the use of an “incident review list.” This is a spreadsheet of all candidates under consideration for the Navy Succession Plan, which is discussed in the initial stages of the NSPB, before detailed consideration of particular ranks and candidates. It includes all conduct violations dating as far back as 2006. The RCN has also produced a framework for discussion of the incident review list, which is worth reproducing in full:

Incident Review List

In the past, NSPB reserved time to discuss those officers with challenging pasts through their actions and/or conduct while in a Command appointment or in their recent past. The process is now codified herein for future application:

a. Guiding Principles/Criteria:

i. the seriousness of the incident;

ii. was the issue a lapse or error in judgement, reflective of challenging ethics, or simply a mistake;

iii. has there been ownership of the incident, of their action/role in it;

iv. is it clear that a lesson been learned from the experience;

v. was remorse demonstrated for their part in the incident and were steps taken to overcome the deficiency;

vi. has the record of performance since the incident been at a high level; and

vii. the Board need make an assessment of the risk to be accepted in the event of selection for re-appointment; and

b. Potential Outcomes of Review:

i. the individual remains on the list to have their situation considered at future NSPB;

ii. the individual is removed from the list and is available to re-compete for selection immediately; and

iii. the individual is removed from the list will not be re-considered for further appointments and shall be informed of that decision in writing.

The instructions to the NSPB make clear, however, that cases “deliberated/decided previously will not be re-debatedEndnote 1113.”

For senior NCMs, there is a similar process. Chief petty officers 1st and 2nd class are succession planned in accordance with Naval Order 5002-7. This calls for two separate boards: a Naval Succession Management Planning Board, which addresses long-term succession planning, and a Naval Succession Appointment Board, for short-term succession planning. As with officer succession planning, following the Naval Succession Appointment Board, formation commanders are briefed on the results and given an opportunity to identify any issues or concerns. The final listing is then approved by the RCN CommanderEndnote 1114.

Compared to the other commands, the RCN has less-developed policy documents but a more detailed scoring process in practice. While scoring matrices are not in and of themselves a guarantee of impartiality, they can provide some consistency to the process from year to year and show overall trends. The RCN is also the only command to have developed a methodology for discussing conduct issues (including sexual misconduct) in the context of succession planning. This is to be commended, and should be followed by the rest of the CAF.

Royal Canadian Air Force

The RCAF has approximately 12,000 Reg F members and 2,000 Reservists, according to its websiteEndnote 1115. It has two main branches for succession planning or “personnel management” – one for officers and one for NCMs. Both operate pursuant to the applicable criteria for succession and appointments. Two Air Force Orders (AFOs) outline the RCAF personnel management policy for officers (Reg F and Res F), and NCMs, being AFO 1000-7 Air Force Personnel Management – OfficersEndnote 1116, and AFO 1000-8 RCAF Succession Management Process – NCMs, respectivelyEndnote 1117.

The purpose of the officer process is to ensure that individuals with the capability to achieve senior appointments are identified, monitored and provided with development opportunities very early in their careers. Two processes are engaged for this purpose:

  1. an appointment process (to address near-term requirements to assign individuals to key positions); and
  2. a succession management process (to address longer-term requirements to identify, monitor and mentor individuals with the demonstrated knowledge, skill, potential and motivation to achieve senior appointments).

Advisory groups, made up of senior officers across the RCAF, manage both officer processes throughout the course of the year. They may nominate individual lieutenant-colonels and below as possible “high potential officers.”

The RCAF succession planning process is intended to identify officers with the potential and motivation to achieve senior appointments (i.e., director general level and GOFO positions) within the RCAF/CAF. The intention is to identify these individuals early in their careers and aggressively challenge, develop and mentor them. However, their career progression remains dependent on how they perform in their assignments and how well they compete with their competent and capable peers. Succession planning begins when individuals are identified and assessed at the major rank.

Individuals who are identified to be succession planned are placed on “O-Lists” (Observations Lists) or “P-Lists” (Potential Lists) to identify them as high performers whose careers require additional attention to ensure that such potential can be realized. The O-Lists are tiered 1 to 3 (e.g., O1 List identifies colonels possessing the potential to reach the rank of lieutenant-general, while the O2 List identifies colonels possessing the potential to reach brigadier-general/major-general rank).

The appointment process designates officers to hold key appointments. This process is held from November to December, for the various ranks below GOFOs, and from January to March for the GOFOs.

The NCM process serves the same purpose as that of the officers. There are three main processes used to manage RCAF NCMs:

  1. Career management (to provide timely delivery of personnel with the right skills at the right place at the right time);
  2. Succession planning process (to address longer-term requirements to identify, monitor and mentor individuals with the demonstrated knowledge, skill, potential and motivation to achieve senior appointments); and
  3. Appointment process (to address near-term requirements to assign individuals to focal positions).

Similar to the officer level, there is a rating and ranking process at the NCM level. All NCMs on the N1 or N2 lists will be assigned one of the following rankings:

  1. Priority (“P”): A “P” rating indicates that this member is considered as a person within their trade to have shown outstanding abilities and the most potential to advance within the CAF and Air Force succession plans;
  2. Ready (“R”): An “R” rating indicates that an individual has shown the abilities required to accept the added challenges of a senior appointment immediately; and
  3. Developing (“D”): A “D” rating indicates that the individual requires some development to ensure his/her success in a senior appointment. Individuals given a “D” rating are informed of the additional competencies and experience they need to develop to move to an “R” rating.

Review and assessment of files from the potential list then takes place at the appointment board. An Air Force Personnel Management Board also convenes annually to review and produce potential NCM lists and propose progression plans for high-potential individuals.

Additionally, an Air Force Appointment Board gathers each year to identify personnel to be nominated for CAF and RCAF senior appointments and to fill key positions. They also produce a notional medium- to long-term succession plan.

The centralized succession planning presents some advantages over the more fragmented Army process, although I recognize that the RCAF is a smaller command and that similar centralization may be neither feasible nor desirable for the Army. However, while members of the Review Team heard that there is a desire to consider leadership potential and character traits, including conduct concerns, this remains somewhat ad hoc. In common with the Army, there is in general a lack of documentation around undesirable behaviour, leaving issues to be brought up through informal discussion.

Other Commands

Special Forces

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) succession planning process loosely resembles that of the Army’s, although simplified. The Deputy Commander oversees the process on behalf of the Commander CANSOFCOM. Following the CAF-wide promotion boards in September and October, there is a command-led discussion on candidates for CO and regimental sergeant-major positions, followed by informal discussions with those under consideration.

Following this, psychometric testing and 360-degree evaluation of candidates are carried out. The Deputy Commander then chairs a small succession board consisting of themself, the Command Chief Warrant Officer, and an “honest broker” (a member from outside CANSOFCOM). The board produces a shortlist of final candidates, who are interviewed by the Commander and the Command Chief Warrant Officer, and the Commander makes the final selection following the interviewsEndnote 1118. There are detailed scoring matrices, and interview questions lists, for both CO and regimental sergeant major positions.

Below the CO level (i.e., majors and captains), the unit COs are responsible for the tiering of captains and proposing candidates, who are then considered at a two-part SOF Succession Planning Conference. Part I takes place in October. There is then a rationalization between the proposals and the parallel CO and regimental sergeant-major succession planning process and a briefing to the commander. Part II of the SOF Succession Planning Conference takes place in December to finalize nominationsEndnote 1119.

It is worth noting that the CANSOFCOM is very small compared to the environmental commands. It comprises approximately 2,550 people including civilians, military police and legal staff, according to its website. I also found the inclusion of an “honest broker” in CANSOFCOM succession boards to be a sensible addition. This practice should be generalized across the CAF, and the CAF should also invite honest brokers external to the Defence Team to take part in its succession planning processes.

Canadian Joint Operations Command

The Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is a small command, consisting of approximately 2,924 military and civilian employees, according to its website. The CJOC does not generate its own force. Rather, the RCN, Canadian Army and RCAF, known as force generators, are allocated positions to CJOC headquarters, units and task forces.

For senior command level and key positions, the CJOC periodically (annually or semi-annually), signals to the DSA, the DGMC, and/or environment command succession planners that a position is available. As these positions provide the opportunity for commands to employ their personnel in challenging, operational and strategic positions to increase breadth of knowledge and experience, they are often sought after.

This triggers a competitive process in which DSA builds personnel files on each candidate, including members’ PERs, past experiences (Member Personnel Record Resume), and emotional intelligence assessments. These files are then weighed against the task that is to be performed by CJOC senior leadership, with the commander ultimately choosing the best match.

The CJOC has created specific positional attributes for key command positions within its organization. This is not to act as a terms of reference or job description but rather, identify the experience, personal attributes and character that would best fit the role.

In addition, CJOC Command has provided guidance to headquarters, Level 2 commanders and OUTCAN in respect of performance evaluation in an “Appraisal DirectiveEndnote 1120.” This Directive sets out how to conduct the CJOC Level 1 ranking boards – which focus on members who are only at the most senior levels. The Directive also provides guidance on how to approach filling out the PERs for CJOC members.

Canadian Forces Intelligence Command

The Canadian Forces Intelligence Command provided two documents relating to intelligence personnel managementEndnote 1121. The first of these, the Chief of Defence Intelligence Directive on Intelligence Personnel Management establishes the Intelligence Personnel Management system through which the Chief of Defence Intelligence leads the talent management and succession planning of Defence Intelligence personnel in coordination with the environmental commands. The Directive applies to personnel of the Intelligence Occupations and Sub-Occupations.

The Intelligence Personnel Management process may be used to manage the employment (including command team and senior staff appointment opportunities) of personnel in other military occupations who have intelligence specialist training or employment experience in defence intelligence.

Concerns around succession planning

What is clear from my review of policies and the succession boards attended by the Review Team is that policies and practices vary widely across the CAF. While much of what we observed was good practice, in some cases the lack of clear and consistent guidance led to ad hoc processes that were potentially susceptible to personality-driven decisions or bias. This was particularly the case for lower ranks, where succession planning is the responsibility of smaller groups or a single career manager, and where the absence of a clear and objective framework risks personality-driven decision-making.

Some environments and branches kept a better history of succession planning than others. In some cases, it was striking how little documentation was retained. While it is important to maintain a space for candid confidential discussions, too little documentation can lead to successive boards occasionally double-guessing previous decisions. Although there may not be a “one size fits all” approach that works for all branches of the CAF, there is value in boards having access to, at the very least, the result, if not the rationale for decisions of previous boards.

Given the issues plaguing the CAF, it is imperative that future leaders are effectively screened for conduct issues as part of the succession planning process.

In all cases but the RCN, there was no framework in place to discuss sexual misconduct or other conduct issues having a bearing on a candidate’s integrity or suitability for senior leadership positions. Discussion of such issues tended to be ad hoc, and rely on individual recollection from those who worked personally with a candidate. In my view, this is problematic. Given the issues plaguing the CAF, it is imperative that future leaders are effectively screened for conduct issues as part of the succession planning process.

Recommendation #38

All succession boards should adopt the approach and methodology of the RCN in its “incident review list” to ensure that concerns are properly captured and brought before boards on a consistent and continuing basis.

One particularly good practice that members of the Review Team observed was the presence of officers from other environments or commands being invited to sit on and vote at succession boards. This practice should be generalized. All succession boards, whether at the environment or corps/branch/regimental level should include a voting member from another command. This will encourage the dissemination of best practices across the CAF, and bring a fresh perspective.

In addition, the CAF would benefit from an outside perspective. As noted above, GOFO promotion processes now include a civilian member from ADM(HR-Civ). While this is a welcome first step, it does not in my view go far enough in bringing oxygen into the CAF’s internal system. In addition to any continued involvement of ADM(HR-Civ), succession boards should include a member from outside the Defence Team – meaning outside of the CAF, the DND and the Staff of the Non-Public Funds – who can provide this insight, similar to the concept of independent directors on governmental and corporate boards. This has the same purpose as the inclusion of cross-CAF board members – to encourage the cross-pollination of best practices for succession planning. It will help ensure that the CAF’s practices stay current and will provide opportunities for the evolving norms of wider society to permeate the selection of CAF leadership.

Recommendation #39

All succession boards for majors and above and master warrant officer/chief petty officer 2nd class appointment boards should include an independent civilian member from outside the Defence Team.

Finally, I have concerns about how succession planning and promotions are applied to women. For women to rise and be adequately represented in the GOFO ranks, they should be succession planned and career managed in a way that takes into consideration factors specific to them, such as maternity leave. In addition, as noted by DRDC, many women are employed in the support trades but they have historically been underrepresented at the GOFO levelEndnote 1122. The CAF should accordingly prepare a new policy in respect of succession planning that is based on GBA+ and properly takes into account particular factors that affect women. It should also take appropriate measures to avoid both directly discriminatory factors (e.g., missing out on opportunities due to maternity leave), and indirectly discriminatory factors (e.g., under-representation of support trades in the senior ranks).

Recommendation #40

The CAF should prepare a new policy on succession planning based on GBA+ that ensures women are not subject to directly and indirectly discriminatory practices in succession planning, and that provides appropriate guidance to career managers, succession boards and others involved in succession planning.


Performance appraisal, promotions and succession planning go hand in hand. They are critical for ensuring not only the operational excellence but also the credibility of the CAF in the future. The processes must be robust, in order to avoid a replay of the crises that have engulfed senior leadership over the past several years. In particular, ensuring leaders have a proper understanding of the significance of sexual misconduct, and an impeccable record in that respect, is key to bringing about meaningful cultural change. As the Deschamps Report and the Heyder and Beattie class actions showed, the CAF needs to do better in how it captures and takes into account sexual misconduct (including past misconduct). Equally important is ensuring that diversity is reflected in the senior ranks of the CAF, so that divergent views are heard internally.

Finally, the CAF must ensure that its stated commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in these processes. For that, it must realize two things. First, it is easier to overstate the impartiality of a process than to recognize the insidious effects of hidden biases that lead to self-perpetuation. Second, outcomes are more telling than processes. While there has been progress in the promotion of women in the CAF in the last 20 years, that progress has stalled in recent times. Not recognizing talent does not mean it is not there. It may mean that those entrusted to identify and support it are not up to the task, individually or collectively.

The CAF operates in an intensely top-down fashion. Supervisors evaluate their subordinates. Meaningful culture change will only take place if there is an openness towards a different way of developing leadership, including through input from subordinates, peers and even outsiders.

Meaningful culture change will only take place if there is an openness towards a different way of developing leadership, including through input from subordinates, peers and even outsiders.

This form of input will not only help to fully capture an officer’s suitability for higher levels of command, it will also enhance a sense of fairness and boost morale. The practice of including officers from other branches of the CAF on selection boards has been beneficial. This practice should be extended to bring in outsiders to the military, if not to opine on the suitability of a particular candidate, then at least to bring a fresh look at the integrity of the process. I believe both the DND and the CAF, on the one hand, and Canadian society on the other, stand to benefit from an opening up of these processes and the cross-pollination of best practices and new ideas.

Input and Oversight

My terms of reference require that I assess and make recommendations “related to establishing external oversight and/or review mechanisms related to misconduct.” Several stakeholders have proposed that I recommend the creation of an independent body charged with the oversight of sexual harassment and misconduct in the DND and the CAF. Generally, the suggested form of this body has been an “inspector general” – similar to that recommended in the wake of the Somalia Commission – that would be tasked with investigating and overseeing professional culture and conduct in the CAF.

Assuming my recommendations are implemented, I do not see a need to stand up yet another entity, like an inspector general or otherwise, to oversee the fundamental shift in accountability required of leadership.

I see a dire need for outside input to truly transform the insular culture entrenched in the CAF. Alerted for years to the prevalence of sexual misconduct, the CAF has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to change. Members of the CAF – including leaders – understand orders, regulations and directives; less so mere recommendations, particularly from outsiders. As a self-governed, highly specialized entity, they are impervious to outside advice and influence.

External reviews, like all forms of “after-the-fact” interventions, have become a way of doing business for the CAF. I illustrate in this Report how the handling of recommendations has become a mini-industry of chart-making, with little meaningful action within the organization.

Despite this resistance, external reviews, like all forms of “after-the-fact” interventions, have become a way of doing business for the CAF. I illustrate in this Report how the handling of recommendations has become a mini-industry of chart-making, with little meaningful action within the organization. This has become exacerbated by the piling-up of additional recommendations, many inconsistent with each other. Therefore, I believe that true change must come not only from external oversight but also from external input into the various mechanisms used by the CAF to tackle sexual misconduct in “real-time” as it occurs.

This is the approach I have taken in all aspects of my mandate, from turning to civilian authorities to investigate and prosecute criminal sexual offences to ensuring the active involvement of civilians in the talent management and promotion processes of the CAF. My observations and recommendations on the issue of oversight rely, in part, on these recommendations being implemented. They also depend on the understanding that “oversight” refers to the assessment or examination of an entity, function or program to reveal its inner workings and improve them.

This is because the existing oversight landscape of the DND and the CAF consists of a multitude of actors – internal and external, formal and informal – who oversee the work environment and culture of the Defence Team. They range from the Prime Minister, the PCO, the Minister, and various parliamentary committees on the political side, to the ADM(RS), the Ombudsman, the AG, the courts, academics, media, and various interest groups on the civilian side. Each has its capacities and limitations. But, if they discharge their mandate in a robust and transparent fashion, this multitude of oversight stakeholders makes an inspector general unnecessary. Indeed, many are able, individually and because of their overlapping mandates, to effect what amounts to “real-time” input into CAF’s culture, which may be more effective than “after-the-fact” assessments and unimplemented recommendations.

Further, I am concerned that implementing an inspector general, in addition to adding a new entity to the oversight landscape, would require certain functions of existing mechanisms of oversight be eliminated or modified to avoid task duplication. In my view, this seems to be a wasteful exercise.

While some of these “oversight” stakeholders are external to the Defence Team, DND expertise is a good starting point. While the culture of the CAF heavily influences the expertise of DND, given how many of DND employees are former military, its contribution should nevertheless be maximized. It should not fall prey to what appears to be a prevailing view of the DND as the lesser partner to the CAF.

I stress here that my focus remains on my mandate, not on the types of oversight and input functions that may be suitable in procurement or operations. I do not believe that adding an inspector general to the Defence Team, with a specific mandate to address sexual harassment and misconduct, adds value at this time. Nor am I convinced that an inspector general is best suited to addressing sexual misconduct – the nature of which raises issues of vulnerability, confidentiality, and trust.

However, I do believe there is a need for the immediate setting up of an “external monitor” with the specific task of overseeing the implementation of those recommendations in my Report that the Minister accepts. The function of the external monitor, paired with that of the mechanisms for oversight and input described below, makes an inspector general unnecessary.

The Somalia Commission’s proposed inspector general

The Somalia Commission was launched in 1995, in the wake of the torture and killing of a Somali youth by members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment. The Somalia Commission described its mandate as follows:

We were asked to delve into questions involving both institutional failures and individual misconduct. This involved evaluating whether institutional or structural deficiencies existed in the planning and initial execution of the operation, and whether institutional responses to operational, disciplinary, and administrative problems encountered in the various phases of the Somalia operation were adequateEndnote 1123.

The Somalia Commission described the inquiry process as an exercise in accountability. It observed that accountability – making those with power and discretionary authority answerable to its useEndnote 1124 – requires “open processes” as “guarantors of responsibility in the exercise of official authorityEndnote 1125.” A key finding of the Somalia Commission was that the “mechanisms for parliamentary oversight of the [DND] and military activities are ineffectiveEndnote 1126.”

The Somalia Commission determined that an inspector general was necessary to promote greater accountability throughout the DND and the CAF, in part because Parliament and the Minister should not rely entirely on the expert advice of the DM and the CDS. The Somalia Commission concluded that a body was required “to review and report on an ongoing basis on defence affairs and the actions and decisions of leaders in the CF and DND,” and to ensure that members had a “protected channel of communication to the Minister’s officeEndnote 1127.”

This proposed inspector general would “form an essential part of the mechanism Canadians use to oversee and control the CF and the defence establishment” and:

…should be appointed by the Governor in Council and [made] accountable to Parliament. [He] should be a civilian and have broad authority to inspect, investigate, and report on all aspects of national defence and the armed forces. The Inspector General, moreover, should be provided with resources including auditors, investigators, inspectors and support personnelEndnote 1128.”

The proposed inspector general would have the following four main functions:Inspections of systemic issues in the DND and the CAF, including systemic problems within the chain of command and the military justice system;

Investigations of complaints about misconduct of individuals of any rank or position, about injustices to individuals within the CAF, and about misconduct related to the roles, missions, and operations of the DND and the CAF;

Overseeing the military justice system by focusing on the application of the NDA and allegations of:

abuse of rank, authority, or position: for example, a failure to investigate, failure to take corrective actions, or unlawful command influence; and

improper personnel actions: for example, unequal treatment of members of the CAF, harassment, racist conduct, failure to provide due process, reprisals;

  1. Inspections of systemic issues in the DND and the CAF, including systemic problems within the chain of command and the military justice system;
  2. Investigations of complaints about misconduct of individuals of any rank or position, about injustices to individuals within the CAF, and about misconduct related to the roles, missions, and operations of the DND and the CAF;
  3. Overseeing the military justice system by focusing on the application of the NDA and allegations of:
    1. abuse of rank, authority, or position: for example, a failure to investigate, failure to take corrective actions, or unlawful command influence; and
    2. improper personnel actions: for example, unequal treatment of members of the CAF, harassment, racist conduct, failure to provide due process, reprisals;
  4. Assistance in mediating conflicts between individuals and the DND and the CAF, and to help redress injustices to individualsEndnote 1129.

The proposed inspector general would remove the need “to report a complaint to a superior or reveal any conversation or correspondence between the member and any superior” and would allow for “[i]nspections, audits, investigations, or reports that arise from complaints made by members of [the DND or the CAF] [to] not identify the complainant in any wayEndnote 1130.”

In addition to the powers listed above, the proposed inspector general would, (a) require the head of personnel to report at least monthly at an executive meeting on the state of discipline throughout the CAF, both inside and outside the chain of command, and would personally oversee any necessary follow-upsEndnote 1131, and (b) conduct periodic reviews of appointments to key leadership positions in the CAF to ensure that the proper criteria are being applied, and that such appointments are as competitive as possibleEndnote 1132.

None of the Somalia Commission’s recommendations relating to the inspector general were implemented. Some stakeholders commented that this was due to the DND and the CAF convincing the government to instead create an office of the Ombudsman within the DND. With respect to the recommendations relating to the inspector general, the Minister testified in 1998 before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs:

While it is true that we do not agree with the specific recommendation concerning the inspector general, we do agree with, and strongly support, its underlying objective: the strengthening of the oversight of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, including oversight by civilians and by Parliament. To accomplish this objective, we have adopted a threefold strategyEndnote 1133.

According to the Minister in 1998, this “strategy” to achieve external oversight included strengthening cooperation with the AG and the CHRC, and standing up the MPCC, MGERC and the OmbudsmanEndnote 1134.

I think there is considerable merit in elected officials speaking clearly about recommendations from external bodies that they do not intend to implement. This allows those who still wish to advocate for a position to understand where it stands, rather than being led to believe, as is more often the case, that the matter is being further studied, or slowly moving forward, while implementation is dying a slow death. I discuss this matter further below.

There is considerable merit in elected officials speaking clearly about recommendations from external bodies that they do not intend to implement

Chief Justice Brian Dickson, testifying in 1998 before the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs in its study of Bill C-25, addressed the inspector general proposed by the Somalia Commission as follows: “(…) there’s enough external supervision of the Canadian Forces without adding another element and group of people who are there to look into, criticize, and make life sometimes difficultEndnote 1135.”

Recent proposals for an inspector general

I understand that the inspector general concept has recently undergone some reconsideration inside the DND and the CAFEndnote 1136. In April 2021, as Acting CDS, then Lieutenant-General Eyre testified to the NDDN:

Right now, the overarching effect that we need is trust and confidence from the perspective of the victims in the system. You’ll note that a quarter of a century ago, in the Somalia report, an independent inspector general was one of the recommendations, and we pushed back against that. Well, I think the time for pushing back is over, and the imperative of re-establishing that trust and confidence has to take primacy hereEndnote 1137.

An internal analysis conducted by the CDA, also in April 2021, concluded that any inspector general function “should be focused on the profession by strengthening professional functioning (in particular aligning culture with ethos); enhancing CAF leadership; ensuring professional accountability; and providing members with voiceEndnote 1138.” This analysis recommended the creation of, (a) a professionally-focused inspector general for the CAF to conduct inspections of and investigations into errors in judgement that erode professional culture, unit climate and member wellbeing, and (b) a complainant-focused “Office for Harassment Resolution” reporting to the Clerk of the PCO, to investigate violations of statutes or formal codes of conduct related to harassment or discriminationEndnote 1139.

The inspector general role proposed by the CDA would take the form of a tribunal (with the chair being a retired member of the CAF), report to the Minister, be “responsive” to the CDS, and perform the following functions:

  1. Assistance: leadership staff assistance; visits to strengthen leader effectiveness or to remedy those issues not involving major wrongdoing;
  2. Inspections: evaluate compliance with expected professional standards and assess command climate, which inspections would be limited to the activities of CAF members;
  3. Investigation: formal inquiry into adverse conditions that affect individuals and/or erode operational effectiveness, which investigations would be limited to CAF members;
  4. Training, Education and Mentoring: as a key component of strengthening leader effectiveness and optimizing unit performance, this can encompass the provision of (remedial) training, tailored learning events and learning resources, and support through mentoring; and
  5. Research: to enhance and inform inspector general evaluations, incorporate a mandate and build capacity for informed and proactive research to understand and anticipate evolving issues, particularly as part of continuous leadership of culture changeEndnote 1140.

More recently, in June 2021, the FEWO recommended that an inspector general be created. Unlike the inspector general contemplated by the CDA, this proposed version would be an officer of Parliament that reports annually to Parliament, receives complaints from serving members of the CAF and veterans, and undertakes independent investigations as necessaryEndnote 1141.

Some stakeholders who participated in my Review have encouraged me to recommend the creation of an external inspector general. The proposed forms vary, but are typically civilian, with reporting obligations to a combination of the Minister and/or Parliament, and with a mandate to address sexual misconduct in the CAF, grievances by members of the CAF, and even the superintendence of the military justice system.

In addition, I note that a number of countries employ an inspector general in an oversight function for their militariesEndnote 1142. The mandates of these inspector generals are as diverse as the forces and countries that employ them. For instance, the inspector general of the Australian Defence Force reports to the Minister of Defence and focuses almost entirely on the military justice systemEndnote 1143. The multiple inspectors general supporting the United States Armed Forces have mandates and reporting obligations specific to the element of the armed forces they “inspect,” with inspectors general for each of the United States army, navy and air force, as well as for the Department of Defence and other entities in the United States defence portfolioEndnote 1144. Notably, however, it is my understanding that none of them specialize in the inspection or investigation of sexual misconduct, or have a mandate that is specific to addressing such behaviorEndnote 1145.

No inspector general is necessary

I am not persuaded that an inspector general is necessary to address sexual harassment or misconduct. It would only add another entity to that space. Assuming my recommendations are implemented – that civilian authorities have exclusive jurisdiction over the investigation and prosecution of criminal sexual offences, and that the CHRC and CHRT perform a similar function for complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination by members of the Defence Team – the need for oversight in this area will be greatly reduced as the CAF will no longer perform this function. In addition, I am concerned that adding an inspector general function would require the elimination or streamlining of other oversight mechanisms already in place to avoid wasteful duplication of resources. I also do not see a need for an inspector general reporting to Parliament with a mandate specific to sexual misconduct in the CAF, but not in the RCMP or, indeed, the rest of the federal service.

Fundamentally, oversight, control, accountability and change in the CAF must come from all branches of government – Parliament, the courts, the executive and the civil service – properly playing their role.

Fundamentally, oversight, control, accountability and change in the CAF must come from all branches of government – Parliament, the courts, the executive and the civil service – properly playing their role. On the issues that I have addressed in this Report, important tasks will fall on the Minister to implement. She will need to muster the necessary resources and political support to move things forward expeditiously. Ultimately, she, and the government, are accountable to the Canadian public. I believe the external monitor that I propose below will assist the Minister in meeting this core obligation in her role as lead of the Defence Team.

I now turn to the vast array of mechanisms that, in one way or another, currently play a role in holding the CAF accountable for its handling of sexual misconduct in its ranks.

Civilian courts and tribunals

Although not considered “oversight” bodies per se, the civilian court and tribunal system plays a critical role in subjecting the conduct of CAF members and the organization itself to the scrutiny of the Canadian public. Courts issue binding decisions, not recommendations. They are, by any measure, the most potent form of oversight. For instance, decisions of the CDS, as the final authority in the grievance process, are subject to judicial review in the Federal Court. Decisions of the military judges of courts martial are subject to appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, made up of civilian judges from the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and provincial Superior CourtsEndnote 1146.

In the same way, and perhaps most notably for my purposes, is the example of the CHRT ordering the CAF to integrate women into all aspects of the Forces, including in the combat arms.

With the implementation of my recommendations, civilian criminal courts will have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal sexual offences allegedly perpetrated by members of the CAF. The CHRC will become a primary recipient of complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination for its investigation and hearing by the CHRT. This will ensure civilian oversight of sexual misconduct by members of the CAF, on par with what is available to all Canadians.

Civil courts are another avenue to exert civilian oversight over the conduct of members of the CAF. Lawsuits started by victims of sexual harassment and misconduct seeking compensation or other relief for injury are, from an oversight viewpoint, an opportunity for civilian judges to hold the CAF accountable for the conduct of its members and the safety of its workplace, as was amply demonstrated by the final settlement of the Heyder and Beattie class actionsEndnote 1147.

Individual civil lawsuits may also be brought but are expensive and time-consuming. They would be even more difficult to pursue for members of the CAF, as I have no doubt that the barriers to reporting to the chain of command also work to dissuade members from starting a lawsuit against the organization. There are conduct-related QR&O that – while not purporting to prevent a member from commencing a lawsuit – prohibit criticism that could bring a superior into contempt or that could “reflect discredit on the Canadian ForcesEndnote 1148.” So, although theoretically available, individual civil lawsuits are unlikely to play a major role in exposing shortcomings in the CAF.

I now turn to posts and functions that, although not all traditionally perceived as oversight mechanisms, play various roles in identifying problems and avenues for redress, with different degrees of authority, transparency, and accountability.

The Minister of National Defence

The Minister is a critical actor in the oversight landscape for the Defence Team. Under the NDA, she is entrusted with the management and direction of the CAF, and all matters relating to national defence and is subject to Parliamentary oversight over defence programs and activities, appearing regularly before the NDDN to address the questions of committee membersEndnote 1149.

The Minister has a general power to make regulations (subject to certain limitations, that is, where the GIC and Treasury Board have already enacted regulations), for the organization, training, discipline, efficiency, administration and good government of the CAF, and generally for implementing the purposes and provisions of the NDAEndnote 1150. While the CDS controls and administers the CAF, he does so at her directionEndnote 1151.

In addition to her general power to make regulations, the Minister has many powers under the NDA that relate to leadership and accountability within the CAF, including the administration of the military justice system.

In addition, the MPCC and the MGERC, both independent oversight actors whose mandates I address above, report to the Minister annually. The Minister is responsible for tabling their respective reports before ParliamentEndnote 1152. The Minister also receives reports and recommendations of the MPCC relating to complaints about interference with military police investigationsEndnote 1153.

Notably, the Minister plays a key role in the selection and appointment of senior leadership within the CAF and provides input into the selection and appointment of defence-related GIC appointments, described belowEndnote 1154.

While the Minister is the legal authority under the NDA for promotions within the CAF, it is the CDS – pursuant to Chapter 11 of the QR&O – who directs the promotion of NCMs and officers below the rank of brigadier-general/commodore. The Minister participates in promotion to the GOFO level, providing her approval for promotion to these most senior ranks in the CAF.

Despite these GOFO ranks being the upper echelons of the CAF, I am not aware of any requirement, process or practice, set out in the NDA, the QR&O or otherwise, that address the steps the Minister must follow to approve promotion to these ranks. Rather, as I understand, it is a matter to be agreed upon between the Minister and the CDS, working cooperatively. It is critical not only that an outsider perspective be introduced into the promotion process, but also that a process exists to ensure that the Minister has the information required to approve promotion to the GOFO ranks, hence my recommendation above regarding ministerial oversight over GOFO promotions.

In areas relating to my mandate, and as set out in the Minister of National Defence Mandate Letter, dated 16 December 2021 (Mandate Letter), the Prime Minister charged the current Minister with ensuring a respectful and safe work environment for the Defence Team and eradicating sexual harassment and sexual misconduct by its membersEndnote 1155. The Mandate Letter sets out the expectation that the Minister will take action to transform the culture of the CAF. She is to accomplish this “in consultation with survivors” and is to “rebuild trust and build a healthy, safe and inclusive workplace, free from harassment, discrimination and violenceEndnote 1156.”

The Minister – with the expert advice of the DM and the CDS – plays the ultimate role of civilian input and oversight. She has a unique vantage point from which to assess the military, particularly given the input she receives from the MPCC and MGERC. She may also seek the advice of other independent, external actors such as the Minister’s Advisory Panel. She is empowered to create change that other oversight stakeholders may only recommend or comment on. And, of course, she is accountable to Parliament and the Canadian public.

The integrated defence team and the DND

The Minister is supported by her principal advisors: the DM and the CDS. They are responsible for ensuring the Minister is “fully informed and in a position to take and direct all action required in fulfilling the defence mandateEndnote 1157.”

The DM is the senior public servant and the head of the DND. His authority encompasses every employee of the DND and member of the CAF who exercises financial, human resources, contracting or other authorities on behalf of the Minister. He, along with the CDS, provides day-to-day leadership and management of the DND and the CAF. He is responsible for formulating advice to the Minister on policy matters, among other thingsEndnote 1158.

The DM reports to the Minister on a number of the investigative functions of the ADM(RS) and is responsible for establishing an independent Departmental Audit Committee (DAC), which also plays a role in providing external input into the functions of the Defence Team, described in more detail below. He is also responsible for complaints of interference made by the MP against senior officials in the DND – receiving reports from the MPCC relating to such alleged interference with military police investigationsEndnote 1159.

In terms of civilian oversight into the CAF, the DM has been described as “the primary fire alarm, alerting the [Minister] when the military is not acting as expectedEndnote 1160.” The DM is also accountable to the Prime Minister, through the Clerk of the PCO, and like all deputy ministers, must consult and work with other government departments to ensure his work is aligned with the government-wide agendaEndnote 1161.

On the military side, the CDS is the senior member of the CAF and is charged with the control and administration of the CAF under the direction of the Minister. The CDS is the commander of the CAF and is responsible for its operations and readiness. He advises the Minister on these mattersEndnote 1162. The relationship between the DM and the CDS is coequal, and “neither can manage successfully without the support of the otherEndnote 1163.”

The integrated NDHQ supports the DM and the CDS. Its senior leadership has accountabilities for and provides support to the DM and the CDS, including advising on defence issues and effecting military tasks and defence activities. However, while the Defence Team is “integrated,” this does not mean that employees of the DND accountable to the CDS are in the military chain of command, or that members of the CAF accountable to the DM are somehow “civilianizedEndnote 1164.” I highlight here the observation, shared with me by someone with long experience in the system, that the integrated NDHQ enhances civilian and political oversight of the CAF, particularly when the DM, the CDS, and the VCDS have good working relationships based on trust.

Ultimately, the DND supports the CAF. It is the largest federal government department. It works in a complementary role with the CAF to implement government decisions regarding Canada’s defenceEndnote 1165. I am mindful of the comments that I have heard from multiple stakeholders that the DND and its culture are heavily influenced by the CAF, in large part because so many of its employees are former CAF members. As of December 2021, according to ADM(HR-Civ), approximately 23% of DND employees are former members of the CAF and approximately 40% of DND employees report directly to current members of the CAF, with another 15% reporting to former membersEndnote 1166. I recognize that this sometimes creates an impediment to the DND bringing a truly fresh civilian viewpoint into the CAF’s management. Attention should be given to assigning former CAF members to posts in the DND that truly require their expertise and, conversely, refraining from doing so in functions – in the SMRC, for instance – where distance from the CAF is preferable.

The DND houses multiple specialties under its roof. I am particularly concerned with the limited extent to which the DND’s expertise is put to use in the management of human resources by the CAF. The introduction of civilian participation, such as the current ADM(HR-Civ), in the GOFO selection board process is a modest step in the right direction. Specialists within the DND with expertise in human resources can immediately lend their knowledge and outsider perspective to the CAF.

In contrast, CAF members who perform these tasks are often ill-prepared, rarely specialists, and will rapidly move on to other postings. They are not inclined to innovate and can be oblivious to the sophistication of human resources management elsewhere, both in the public and private sectors.

The Assistant Deputy Minister (Review Services)

Every Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) within the DND has a role in providing input, if not oversight, into the CAF. Currently, the ADM(RS) plays an important role in this respect, given her mandate to provide the DM and the CDS with “independent, objective, and timely assurance services” in a number of areas.

Audits and evaluations

Housed at NDHQ, the ADM(RS) provides an oversight function through the audit, evaluation and review of programs within the DND and the CAF. She is the Chief Audit Executive for the DND. The ADM(RS) examines many programs within the DND and the CAF which include areas of interest to both branches of my mandate. For instance, within the last few years, the ADM(RS) has conducted an Evaluation of Diversity and InclusionEndnote 1167, an evaluation of Military Police ServicesEndnote 1168, a review of the SMRCEndnote 1169 and an evaluation of the governance of the CMPEndnote 1170. The ADM(RS) also conducted a targeted audit of the implementation of Canada’s Defence Policy − Strong, Secure, EngagedEndnote 1171. In addition, the ADM(RS) has issued advisory reports on the military recruitment process and the civilian grievance processEndnote 1172.

I understand from a review of the most recent Risk-Based Audit Plan for the DND that, as of 2020, the ADM(RS) plans to conduct a follow-up on the recommendations of previous reports regarding sexual harassment and misconduct (including an assessment of the governance of initiatives such as the Path to Dignity), and an assessment of Defence Team culture as it relates to diversity and inclusionEndnote 1173. In addition, the five-year Departmental Evaluation Plan of the ADM(RS) proposes for defence, evaluations of a number of programs related to my mandate from recruitment to CPCC and the SMRCEndnote 1174.

In response to recommendations made by the ADM(RS) after it has conducted an audit, evaluation or other engagement, the respective functional authorities develop a Management Action Plan (MAP). The ADM(RS) tracks and assesses the implementation of these actions plans and publishes the follow-up reports online – providing some transparency into the steps taken by the DND and the CAF to respond to its internal auditor’s recommendations.

The DM is required to brief the Minister on “matters arising from the work of internal audit which merit [her] attentionEndnote 1175.” Both he and the CDS are responsible for ensuring that appropriate actions are taken in response to an internal auditEndnote 1176.

To assist this work, the DM relies on the DAC. This independent advisory body to the DM and the CDS is composed of external members selected from outside the federal public administration and appointed by the Treasury Board on an “at pleasure” basisEndnote 1177. The current DAC consists of a former GOFO, a former senior public servant, and individuals with financial expertise. It is responsible for providing objective advice and recommendations on the sufficiency, quality and results of internal audit engagements including the multi-year audit plan of the ADM(RS)Endnote 1178. The DAC also reviews and recommends for approval audit and evaluation reports of the ADM(RS), which are approved in turn by the DM or the CDS prior to their publication.

Again, the contribution of outsiders to this audit and evaluation process enhances its credibility and trustworthiness.

As noted above, the ADM(RS) had audited and evaluated several programs of interest to my mandate, and future audit and evaluation plans indicate its intention to continue to do so. I encourage the active use of this internal audit and evaluation function for the culture and leadership changes that the DND and the CAF are implementing.

The ADM(RS) also supports the work of the OAG and monitors the responses to its reports and may also monitor the implementation of external recommendationsEndnote 1179. In fact, its multi-year audit plan includes ongoing “MAP monitoring,” including in respect of independent reviews such as mineEndnote 1180.

Turning specifically to the ADM(RS)’s assessment of recent external reports addressing sexual misconduct in the CAF, the ADM(RS) concluded that, “while the Defence Team has made some progress in addressing the recommendations stemming from the Deschamps 2015 external review and the 2018 OAG report, further work is required to achieve full implementation across all actionEndnote 1181.”

However one characterizes the state of implementation of these external recommendations, the ADM(RS) pointed out that much remained to be done. This underscores the need for the external monitor I propose below.

In addition to its audit and evaluation function, the ADM(RS) plays another important role relevant to my mandate: conducting administrative investigations.

Administrative investigations

The Directorate of Special Examinations and Inquiries (DSEI), within the office of the ADM(RS), conducts investigations related to sexual misconduct. First, under the DAOD 7026‑1, Management of Administrative Investigations, the Directorate conducts “administrative investigations into allegations or instances of administrative irregularities, impropriety, mismanagement and other irregularities in the DND and the CAFEndnote 1182”. These investigations are independent of the chain of commandEndnote 1183.

Second, the DSEI may also receive a request for an investigation by way of the disclosure of wrongdoing process under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) or the Canadian Forces Disclosure Process (CAF Disclosure Process). This disclosure of wrongdoing process is described below.

For investigations under DAOD 7026-1, the DSEI can be directed to conduct such an investigation by the DM, the CDS or by the ADM(RS) on its own initiative or as a result of requests from the L1 organizationsEndnote 1184. The purpose of an investigation is to ensure that administrative irregularities are identified. The DSEI, after an “in-depth investigation of the relevant circumstances,” can then make recommendations to responsible managers and commanders for corrective actionEndnote 1185. Investigators must be provided full access to all records, facilities and persons required to conduct their investigation. DND employees and CAF members must cooperate with and facilitate the work of the DSEIEndnote 1186.

These investigations conducted by the DSEI “must not be used to gather evidence of criminal breaches” and may be undertaken in addition to any police or summary investigation. An investigation may also be conducted in parallel to a police investigation after consultation with the CFPMEndnote 1187. I understand that the DSEI aims to provide a report within six to 12 months of commencing an investigation. After an investigation, the DSEI forwards the investigation report for consideration to the ADM(RS), who provides the investigation report to the DM and/or the CDS, as appropriate. Any concerns arising out of an investigation, regardless of whether there has been a finding of impropriety, are brought to the attention of the applicable L1 organization. The DSEI can request an action plan from the L1 to address the concernEndnote 1188.

There is no requirement to make the investigation reports or corresponding recommendations publicEndnote 1189. In fact, DSEI reports are not published due to privacy concerns, aside from the information published after a finding of wrongdoing, as described belowEndnote 1190.

With this administrative investigation function, the ADM(RS) has a broader – if

non-public – mandate than that proposed by the Somalia Commission for the inspector general (as it relates to the inspection of systemic issues), as the ADM(RS) can inspect systemic and conduct-related problems in more than just the military justice system.

The ADM(RS) informed me that, outside of the disclosure of wrongdoing process described below, 57 investigations were commenced by the DSEI under the DAOD 7026-1. Since 2015-16, none of those related directly to issues pertaining to sexual misconduct or harassment within the DND or the CAF. However, I am told that the DSEI “does conduct investigations when there is an alleged conflict of interest or abuse of authority with respect to the administration of other recourse processes” and that the DSEI also investigates situations related to the administration or handling of sexual harassment, misconduct or harassment casesEndnote 1191.

Based on materials provided to me by the ADM(RS), I have reviewed an instance in which the ADM(RS) tasked the DSEI to conduct an administrative investigation into a process of the CAF that relates to my mandate. While I am precluded from commenting on specific cases, I can conclude from my review of the investigation report that the DSEI correctly identified deficiencies in the interpretation and application of internal policies and made a pointed recommendation to the CAF to address those.

Implementing this particular recommendation from the DSEI would bolster the ability of the CAF to hold its members, particularly its senior leadership, accountable for sexual misconduct. It is a positive example of the usefulness of civilian input into the CAF’s policies and practices. The only shortcoming here is the absence of publicity about the ADM(RS)’s processes and outcomes in the context of administrative investigations. However, while transparency is a great contributor to public scrutiny and accountability, there is also a need for internal mechanisms that facilitate candour and reduce the risks of self-censure by protecting confidentiality.

Therefore, in the case of administrative investigations conducted by the ADM(RS) under the DAOD 7026-1, I will not go so far as to say that any report or its contents must be made public; however, I do believe that accountability would be increased if the Minister were to be briefed by the ADM(RS) directly on all investigations related to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and leadership culture in the Defence Team, to support the Minister’s function in overseeing on-going systemic deficiencies and efforts to correct them.

Recommendation #41

The Minister should be briefed by the ADM(RS) directly on all investigations related to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and leadership culture in the Defence Team.


Recommendation #42

The ADM(RS) should report annually to the Minister on statistics and activities related to investigations under the DAOD 7026-1, in line with what is required under the PSDPA.

An institutionalized close cooperation should be put in place between the ADM(RS) and the SMRC so that the SMRC can alert the ADM(RS) of systemic or specific case concerns that the ADM(RS) is suitably equipped to investigate. To that end, the Executive Director, SMRC should be able to independently direct the ADM(RS) to conduct an administrative investigation into matters relevant to the SMRC’s mandate.

Recommendation #43

The Executive Director, SMRC should be able to independently direct the ADM(RS) to conduct an administrative investigation into matters relevant to the SMRC’s mandate.

Disclosure of wrongdoing

The DSEI also conducts investigations into disclosures of wrongdoing, governed either by the PSDPA for DND employees, or the CAF Disclosure Process for CAF members. In this regard, and relevant to my mandate, the DSEI can conduct “reprisal” investigations for CAF members only, “including in cases where the alleged reprisal occurred as a result of reporting sexual misconduct,” and has received informal complaints of this natureEndnote 1192. However, I understand this process is not typically engaged as it relates to circumstances of sexual misconduct; in fact, of the 105 investigations commenced under the disclosure of wrongdoing process from 2015-16, none of the investigations conducted by the DSEI directly examined allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment, according to the ADM(RS)Endnote 1193.

The PSDPA and CAF Disclosure Process allow DND employees and CAF members to come forward if they believe that a “wrongdoing” has been committed, including a serious breach of a code of conduct such as the DND and CF Code of Values and EthicsEndnote 1194. Reprisal for good faith disclosures is prohibitedEndnote 1195. The ADM(RS) receives these disclosures and investigates where appropriate. The DM, and the CDS in cases involving the CAF, has an obligation to review investigation reports and recommendations and can direct that corrective action be taken. Founded wrongdoings are published online, along with related recommendation and corrective action (or the reason no corrective action was taken)Endnote 1196.

In addition, the DSEI prepares an annual report to the Treasury Board on statistics and activities related to the PSDPA and the CAF Disclosure Process. I note here that the Treasury Board is another government entity external to the Defence Team that provides civilian input to the DND and the CAF, including around people management, conflict of interest, and employment equity requirementsEndnote 1197.

Overall, the ADM(RS) has functions – albeit internal – like those of the inspector general called for by some stakeholders. In fact, like an inspector general, aspects of its function are public, given its reporting and publication obligations. However, stakeholders I spoke to have cautioned against relying on the ADM(RS) to take the place of an independent and external inspector general, in part due to its subordinate role to the DM and CDS. Further, as I note above, if an inspector general were stood up, the investigative role of the ADM(RS) would probably need to be curtailed or otherwise removed to eliminate duplication in function.

The Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office

Defence-related Governor in Council appointees

The Prime Minister is answerable to the Canadian public for the government’s performance as a whole. In matters relevant to my mandate, the Prime Minister plays a key role in the oversight of the DND and the CAF, particularly in the appointment of senior leadership.

In addition to appointing his Cabinet, and specifically the Minister, the Prime Minister provides the recommendation to the GIC regarding the appointment of key members of the defence portfolio:

  1. the CDS;
  2. the DM and Associate Deputy Ministers;
  3. the DM and ADM of Veterans Affairs; and
  4. the Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security, who is appointed as a Special Advisor to the Minister under the Public Service Employment ActEndnote 1198.

All other relevant defence-related GIC appointments fall within the portfolios of the Minister or the Minister of Veterans AffairsEndnote 1199. For instance, the Minister recommends:

  1. the JAG;
  2. the Ombudsperson, who is appointed as a Special Advisor to the Minister under the Public Service Employment Act;
  3. the Principal of the RMC Kingston, also appointed as a Special Advisor to the Minister under the Public Service Employment Act;
  4. all members of the MGERC; and
  5. all members of the MPCCEndnote 1200.

The CDS, DM, JAG and Principal of the RMC Kingston hold office “during pleasure,” meaning that they may be removed from office at the discretion of the GIC. The Ombudsman, members of the MGERC, and members of the MPCC, hold office “during good behaviour,” meaning that they may be removed from office only for cause (as defined in any applicable legislation or terms of appointment)Endnote 1201.

The process for selecting all of the GIC appointments listed above is administered by the Senior Personnel Secretariat of the PCOEndnote 1202. The PCO, therefore, plays a crucial role in the selection of key appointees in the defence portfolio.

The selection process for the CDS involves several steps. At the outset, a selection committee is struck, which generally includes the Minister, the Clerk of the PCO, the DM, the Deputy Secretary of the PCO, and another senior representative of the “security community.” All three-star Generals are invited to participate in the process and asked to provide letters of interestEndnote 1203.

A subcommittee screens applications against the selection criteria developed by the PCO in consultation with the DND and the PMO. Selection criteria consist of, among other things, eligibility (education, experience etc.), language requirements, and personal attributes. The selection committee then conducts interviews and creates a shortlist. I understand that, since 2018, the candidates are asked the following questions:

  1. Do you have, or think you might have, any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest with respect to serving in this position?
  2. Is there anything in your personal or professional background, past or present, that could, if it were to become known, bring disrepute to the Government of Canada?
  3. Are there any activities you are currently undertaking that are registered under the Lobbying Act?
  4. Have you ever had to deal with a harassment complaint or a formal grievance made against you? If yes, describe the situation and how it was resolvedEndnote 1204.

Additional due diligence on the shortlisted candidates is also conducted, including: reference checks, a psychometric assessment, background and security checks, and polygraphic analysisEndnote 1205. With respect to the reference checks conducted for leadership positions such as the CDS, I understand that the PCO relies primarily on references provided by the candidateEndnote 1206. I also understand that no access is requested or otherwise provided, as part of the due diligence process, to the CAF’s internal databases that maintain records regarding complaints of sexual harassment or misconductEndnote 1207.

As a final step, the selection committee recommends candidates to the Prime Minister, who may meet with the recommended candidates prior to the Cabinet’s determining who to appoint, and the GIC’s issue of the applicable Order in Council. With respect to the appointment of the CDS, the Prime Minister also consults with the Governor General, as the Commander-in-Chief for the CAFEndnote 1208.

Recommendation #44

In the case of GIC appointees, such as the CDS and the JAG (who must be members of the CAF at the time of their appointment), consideration should be given to removing any legal impediments – such as privacy concerns – that preclude access by the PCO to personnel files in the CAF, including conduct sheets.

Governor in Council appointees’ performance evaluation

The PCO also administers performance evaluations for certain GIC appointees in the defence portfolio, including the CDS, by coordinating the Performance Management ProgramEndnote 1209. This program assesses performance on an annual basis. It sets compensation for certain GIC appointments, including the CDS who is eligible to earn “at-risk” pay, meaning that part of his compensation is contingent on his performanceEndnote 1210.

As part of the Performance Management Program for the CDS, and similar to the process for the DM, the CDS is required to evaluate his own performance in a number of areas, including the policy and program results that he has achieved in support of the government’s agenda, management results (measured against the Management Accountability Framework established by the Treasury Board), and leadership resultsEndnote 1211.

The PCO in turn conducts due diligence to supplement the CDS’s self-evaluation. For instance, the PCO seeks input from the Minister, senior DMs within the defence portfolio (such as Global Affairs Canada), and central agencies including the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Office of the Chief Human Resources OfficerEndnote 1212.

From the information I have reviewed, it does not appear that, in coordinating the performance evaluation of the CDS, the PCO is required to seek input from his subordinates (in the form of a 360 degree evaluation or otherwise), or that the CDS is mandated to evaluate specifically his performance in addressing sexual harassment and misconduct within the CAF.

Investigation into alleged misconduct by Governor in Council appointees

In addition to its role in appointing and evaluating GIC appointees within the defence portfolio, the PCO plays a key role in managing the investigation of allegations of misconduct against these individuals, and in assisting the GIC in determining whether it still has confidence in the appointeeEndnote 1213.

I understand from the PMO that, while the PCO keeps the Prime Minister informed of the investigations, the PCO and the public service manage these investigations at their discretionEndnote 1214.

According to the PCO, it is not an investigative body. Its role regarding complaints of misconduct against a GIC appointee entails providing “advice to the government in order to determine the best course of action depending on the nature of a complaintEndnote 1215.” Its advice takes into account the specific circumstances of the complaint, and it aims to ensure that procedural fairness for those involved is respected, and that any investigation is independent and fairEndnote 1216.

The standard of information required for the PCO to begin an investigation into alleged misconduct is unclear to me. I understand that, depending on the nature of the information brought forward, a recommended course of action may include anything from administrative review, referral to an independent third party for investigation–which I am told is typical, or referral to the police. The PCO may ultimately recommend that the GIC remove an appointee from their “at pleasure” positionEndnote 1217. For the CDS in particular, consideration is given to whether the GIC continues to have confidence in his policy decisions in the circumstancesEndnote 1218.

I am not privy to any investigation into allegations of misconduct against defence-related GIC appointees. My terms of reference preclude me from “expressing any conclusions or recommendations regarding liability or wrongdoing of any person or organization,” and I am not to “include any reference to, or provide any assessments or recommendations related to, any specific cases of harassment or sexual misconductEndnote 1219.”

From my general inquiries into the process, I can only conclude that there is considerable discretion in the PCO as to how to proceed when informed of serious allegations made against a GIC appointee. The process, particularly its length, may lead to unwarranted speculation; however, fairness to the subject of the complaint, as well as concerns about protecting the confidentiality of complainants in sexual misconduct cases, or of whistle-blowers, for instance, often complicate matters.

Overall, the PCO administers several processes for defence GIC appointees, which provides a unique opportunity to ensure meaningful civilian input into the selection, evaluation and investigation of senior leadership in the defence portfolio.

In addition, the PCO plays a critical role in the implementation of regulations, including those relevant to the defence landscape (by way of its support to the Treasury Board and to Cabinet relating to the drafting of orders-in-council). It is imperative that the PCO and other relevant entities such as the Treasury Board pay particular attention to the debilitating pace at which regulatory matters move through this process. As set out above, I have found discouraging the pace at which Bill C-77 has been implemented. Waiting years from the passage of legislation to the implementation of the enabling regulations is – particularly when the regulations at issue target sexual misconduct – unacceptable. In my view, there needs to be a greater assertion of responsibility at the political level to speed the implementation of these necessary reforms.

The Ombudsman

As mentioned above, the Ombudsman was set up in the wake of the Somalia Commission as an alternative to the proposed inspector general. The Ombudsman is independent from the management and chain of command of the DND and the CAF and reports directly to and is accountable to the MinisterEndnote 1220. This office provides a method of external oversight and input into the DND and the CAF. The Ombudsman describes its function as follows:

Our Office is a direct source of information, referral, and education for the members and employees of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. We help individuals access existing channels of assistance or redress when they have a complaint or concern. We may also investigate and report publicly on matters affecting the welfare of members and employees of the Department or the Canadian Forces and others falling within our jurisdiction. Ultimately, we want to contribute to substantial and long-lasting improvements to the Defence communityEndnote 1221.

The Ombudsman is intended to be a neutral and independent investigator of issues brought by members of the Defence community, who have exhausted existing avenues of redress within the systemEndnote 1222. Notably, and for investigations relating to systemic issues, the Ombudsman makes its reports and findings available online.

Although he can play a role in monitoring sexual misconduct, the numbers of sexual misconduct-related complaints received by his office are low. For instance, according to the semi-annual statistics the Ombudsman provides to the MND, in 2018, his office received 21 complaints relating to sexual misconduct. In 2019, there were 16, and in 2020, the complaints totalled 10Endnote 1223.

The Ombudsman has not investigated systemic issues relating to sexual harassment and misconduct. However, I understand his office plans to look into diversity as an area for investigation in the futureEndnote 1224.

In April 2021, in a letter addressed to both the parliamentary standing committees examining sexual misconduct in the CAF (referenced below), the former Ombudsman took the position that he could not be a part of the deliberations within the Defence Team regarding the processes necessary for culture change, as this would place his office in a conflict, and went on to observe that his office was well-placed to perform an independent oversight function as part of the solution to sexual misconduct and other forms of discriminationEndnote 1225.

Justice Fish has already dealt with issues in that office, and I echo Justice Fish’s recommendation that there should be an independent review of “whether additional measures are needed to reinforce [the Ombudsman’s] independence and effectiveness.”

Parliament and parliamentary committees

The authority for the NDA vests with Parliament under the Constitution, which provides that Parliament has legislative authority over “militia, military and naval service, and defenceEndnote 1226.” However, as well described by Philippe Lagassé and Stephen Saideman, defence policy making and military control belongs to the executive, such that parliamentary oversight of the military is focused on holding ministers to account for their control of the armed forcesEndnote 1227.

Professor Lagassé further asserts that parliamentarians maintain this accountability by debating, voting on and amending national defence legislation, such as the NDA. They may also debate defence questions and pass nonbinding motions regarding military issues, in an effort to influence the government’s defence decisions. This system of governance relies especially on opposition MPs to identify faults in the government’s defence policies, warn the public of any errors or shortfalls, and offer alternative solutionsEndnote 1228.

One method of parliamentary oversight is the use of defence committees that oversee and report on the government’s defence estimates, policies, programs and legislation. These committees can “request information and documents, as well as call witnesses to testify, including ministers, civil servants, and members of the armed forcesEndnote 1229.” They are able to examine – in the public eye – the policies and practices of the government. They are critical sources of civilian oversight and input into the conduct of the Defence Team.

However, defence committees are constrained by their reliance on unclassified information. They must rely on “open source information, leaks, media reports, and witness testimony to hold the government to accountEndnote 1230.” In addition, while they can request any information from the government, custom discourages their members from requesting the production of documents where public policy considerations such as national security and foreign relations are affectedEndnote 1231.

In the past year, in response to the crisis in senior leadership suffered by the CAF in relation to allegations of sexual misconduct, two parliamentary standing committees have examined the matter.

The Standing Committee on National Defence

In February 2021, the NDDN began a study of sexual misconduct issues in the CAF, including allegations against the former CDS. It held approximately 26 hearings, from February to May 2021, in the course of which it heard from multiple witnesses, among them senior leaders of the DND and the CAF, and subject matter experts.

The NDDN did not issue a report. I note from the transcripts that there was a motion to schedule the next steps toward a draft report and recommendations in the 12 April 2021 meeting and an acknowledgment at the 14 May 2021 meeting that the NDDN had “commenced consideration of a draft reportEndnote 1232.” However, in June 2021, the Liberal members of the NDDN released 24 recommendations regarding sexual misconduct in the CAF to the Minister and to my attention. These members explained the release of their recommendations “given the impasse that the Committee has facedEndnote 1233.”

This highlights both the contributions and the limitations of this kind of process. On the positive side, parliamentary committees attract high-level participants and visibility on issues that may not otherwise attract much public attention. On the other hand, in some cases, no consensus is possible, and alignment along party lines detracts from the credibility of the process.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women

The FEWO also took steps to study sexual misconduct within the CAFEndnote 1234. It has published two reports related to these issues, in 2019 and 2021Endnote 1235.

The FEWO heard evidence over the course of many days, from March to May 2021. It also heard evidence from various organizations and individuals, including senior leaders within the DND and the CAF, expert witnesses and a survivor-lead organization.

It made recommendations to “foster cultural change and to support survivors of sexual misconduct in the CAF” and “provide guidance to the Government of Canada on measures that would be implemented to help eliminate sexual misconduct in the CAF and increase accountability.Endnote 1236

The FEWO made 21 recommendations, ranging from the role of senior leadership in creating culture change to services for survivors of sexual misconduct. Notably, one of the recommendations was for the Government of Canada to “fully implement all recommendations” from the Deschamps ReportEndnote 1237.

The very first of these was to establish a fully independent Office of the Inspector General within the DND and the CAF, which would report annually to Parliament. FEWO particularized the duties of this parliamentary officer as:

  1. to ensure future complaints and allegations are made to an external, independent body;
  2. to receive complaints from serving members and veterans with no requirement for the member or the veteran to exhaust the internal redress and grievance procedures before filing the complaint;
  3. to independently undertake studies and investigations deemed necessary; and
  4. refer matters to the National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister for investigation when warrantedEndnote 1238.

The June 2021 Report included a “Request for Government Response” pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, which requires a response from the government within 120 days. Parliament was dissolved in August 2021, in advance of the fall general election. Documents internal to the Defence Team indicate that a government response is being preparedEndnote 1239.

I am unaware of any steps taken by the DND or the CAF to implement the recommendations made by the FEWO; however, I note reference to these recommendations in the Initiating Directive for the Recommendations of the [Fish Report] and other Related External Comprehensive Reviews, dated 25 October 2021, which I review in more detail below.

The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence

The Senate of Canada also plays a role in civilian oversight of the Defence Team, including by way of its Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, whose mandate is “to examine legislation and study issues related to national defence, security and veterans’ affairsEndnote 1240.” Professor Lagassé contrasts Senate defence committees to those in Parliament as benefiting from a less partisan and hurried working environmentEndnote 1241.

From May to October 2018, this Senate Committee studied harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF, and the impact of changes made since Operation HONOUR was launched in 2015. The Senate Committee heard evidence from the leadership of the Defence Team and experts. At the conclusion of its study, it tabled its report, which relied, in part, on the 2016 StatsCan ReportEndnote 1242. It set out eight recommendations, many of which are similar to those I have set out. To date, I am unaware of any steps taken by the DND and the CAF to assess or implement these recommendations.

With respect to the recommendations set out in the Deschamps Report, the report also concluded that they have not been “fully implementedEndnote 1243.”

The Auditor General of Canada

The AG is a crucial external player in the civilian oversight landscape for the Defence Team. The AG is an Officer of Parliament, and provides Parliament with objective, fact-based information and expert advice on government programs and activities, gathered through audits. The AG has a great deal of discretion in determining what areas of the government to audit and plans its audits years in advance. Parliamentarians use the reports of the AG to oversee government activities and hold the federal government to account for its handling of public fundsEndnote 1244.

The OAG is the independent external auditor for the DND and the CAF. It has conducted numerous financial and performance audits related to my mandate. In brief, they include:

  1. In 2016, Report 5 – Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention – National Defence. This audit focused on whether the CAF had implemented appropriate systems and practices to recruit, train, and retain the Reg F members required to achieve its objectives. Among other things, the AG found that despite establishing recruitment goals – such as 25% women – these targets did not account for specific targets by occupation, leaving certain occupations significantly below the required number of personnelEndnote 1245.
  2. In 2017, Report 6 – Royal Military College of Canada – National DefenceEndnote 1246. The focus of this audit was whether the RMC produced the quality of officers that the CAF needed at a reasonable cost. It also assessed whether DND and CAF policies and education could ensure the proper conduct of officer cadets and staff at the RMC. It found that the RMC’s military training program had weaknesses. Notably, it lacked any clear, measurable standards for leadership qualities and ethical military behaviour for graduates to reach before receiving their commissionsEndnote 1247.
  3. In 2018, Report 3 – Administration of Justice in the Canadian Armed ForcesEndnote 1248. This audit focused on whether the CAF’s administration of the military justice system was efficient and effective in processing cases in a timely manner. It found that the CAF took too long to resolve many of its military justice cases, with significant consequences in some casesEndnote 1249.
  4. In 2018, Report 5 – Inappropriate Sexual Behavior – Canadian Armed ForcesEndnote 1250. The focus of this audit was on whether the CAF adequately responded to inappropriate sexual behaviour through actions to respond to and support victims and to understand and prevent such behaviour. It found that while Operation HONOUR increased awareness of inappropriate sexual behaviour within the CAF, its fragmented approach to victim support and unintended consequences slowed its progress. Policies such as the duty to report discouraged some victims from coming forward for fear that their cases would be investigated despite not being ready to proceed formallyEndnote 1251.

The OAG’s audits of Defence Team performance are public. They are available to the media and tabled in Parliament. As set out above, they are relied on by parliamentary and senate standing committees in their respective studies of defence-related issues. In addition, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts may request updates from the AG and department officials as to the status of the implementation of its recommendations, thereby keeping a matter in the public eye and subject to parliamentary scrutiny for a longer period of time.

In light of my Review, the AG determined in July 2021 that she would postpone her planned update work on inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF. I expect that, with the conclusion of my work, her office will resume its reporting and I welcome her follow-up in respect to sexual harassment and misconduct in the CAF.

Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada is a critical external stakeholder in the oversight landscape, given its legislative power and expertise in collecting information. In 2016, and as part of Operation HONOUR, Statistics Canada was contracted to design and implement a voluntary survey of all active members of the CAF regarding their experiences of sexual harassment and misconductEndnote 1252.

Over two months, active Reg F and P Res members were invited to complete an electronic questionnaire, asking about their experiences and perceptions of inappropriate sexualized behaviour, discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, and sexual assault within the CAF. Responses were received from over 43,000 members. In November 2016, Statistics Canada released its report, which focused on findings for the Reg FEndnote 1253.

It conducted a second survey in 2018, and released two reports in May 2019Endnote 1254.

In both instances, the survey results led to media attention highlighting the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the military, and that only slight progress had been made over the past two years.

Between 2018 and 2019, Statistics Canada conducted a survey “aimed to measure the nature and prevalence of unwanted sexualized and discriminatory behaviours and sexual assault among students in Canadian post-secondary institutions.” It included the officer cadets and naval cadets at the RMC and the RMC Saint-Jean. Again, the media highlighted the results of the survey, published in 2020, particularly that nearly 70% of military college students reported experiencing or witnessing unwanted sexual behavioursEndnote 1255.

These surveys – designed and implemented by experts at Statistics Canada – serve multiple oversight and input functions. They provide a meaningful source of information for understanding the prevalence, among other things, of sexual harassment and misconduct in various environments in the CAF. They provide a basis for evidence-based policy-making within the Defence Team. Their publications ensure the scrutiny of the Canadian public and politicians. They also serve a broad community of research stakeholders.

I have heard from stakeholders in the academic world that these surveys (at least those of the Reg F and the Res F) should be conducted annually rather than every two to three years, to better inform policy development and enforcement on an ongoing basis. I note that the employees of the DND participate in the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES), a voluntary survey conducted every year. The PSES is public-sector-wide and is not specific to the DND. It collects information about workplace harassment, safety and cultureEndnote 1256. I do not have any information regarding plans by the Defence Team to use the results of PSES in its policy development and enforcement. I certainly encourage it to do so.

I understand from my stakeholder interviews that the integration of external expertise into these large-scale data collection enterprises could be improved.

The media and external academics

The Canadian media and researchers external to the government also have an essential role to play and have made important contributions in highlighting issues and advocating for change.


Investigative journalism has proven a crucial component of the external oversight landscape, particularly as it relates to the struggles of the CAF with sexual misconduct.

The investigative reports of Canadian media outlets have played a critical part in bringing to light the extent and severity of sexual misconduct in the military and the shortcomings in the CAF’s handling of these cases. I believe that the setting up of three external reviews addressing sexual misconduct in the CAF in the last six years, the Deschamps Report, the Fish Report, and my own, has largely been attributable to the public concern generated by the work of the pressEndnote 1257.

Despite the CAF’s preoccupation with strictly regulating the disclosure of any information related to its inner workings, much of the material related to sexual misconduct is not classified; however, it is not readily accessible to the public. Investigative journalists are uniquely skilled in navigating Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests, analyzing these materials, and reporting on them. Parliamentary committees have also relied on the documents secured by various news outlets to inform their recent studies into sexual misconduct in the CAFEndnote 1258. The NDDN made reference to ATIP requests when discussing the documentation and witnesses that would be key to its workEndnote 1259.

For decades, the Canadian press has played a pivotal role in holding senior military leadership accountable for sexual misconduct. Its coverage of the ongoing crisis continues to play this role and bolsters the political and civilian oversight mechanisms already in place.

Academics and external researchers

The research work of academics and external researchers provides key outsider input to the Defence Team. This benefit is set out in Canada’s Defence Policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged: “Collaboration with academia and other experts not only strengthens the foundation of evidence-based defence policy-making, but it will also help drive innovation and develop future thought leadersEndnote 1260.” The Policy highlights a plan to revitalize partnerships with external experts to capitalize on their expertise and sets out several initiatives to allow the CAF to “derive greater benefit from Canada’s rich academic and analytic communityEndnote 1261.” Among them was the launch of the Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) programEndnote 1262.

This program funded “Collaborative Networks” – networks of multi-disciplinary experts working on defence policy challenges. I understand from my stakeholder interviews that many of the experts involved in these networks have been at the centre of the discussions and debates on sexual misconduct in the CAF and the broader objective of culture change.

In 2019, the MINDS program and the SMRC coordinated the review by three external researchers of the 2016 and 2018 Statistics Canada surveys. This collaborative effort formed the basis for an SMRC report that expressly refers to the experts’ suggestions on how to address sexual misconduct in the CAFEndnote 1263.

This is a positive example of members of the Defence Team, specifically the SMRC, opening up to the informed assessment of external experts and benefiting from doing so. This type of collaboration should be encouraged. Scientists and subject matter experts working inside the Defence Team – DRDC, the DGMPRA, the CDA and others – should increase their collaboration with external experts.

In line with the policy objectives set out in Canada’s Defence Policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged, I endorse the submission of a stakeholder that each of the Network Directors for the MINDS program be paired with a senior leader within the DND and the CAF.

With respect to the DGMPRA, I note that its research and work provide an in-depth source of information for the leadership in the Defence Team and is a form of internal input into policy decision-making. In my view, DGMPRA and other internal research should be made available online, subject to appropriate security controls. Making this work available online has the added benefit of ensuring that external researchers do not duplicate research already done by researchers internal to the DND and the CAF.

Recommendation #45

The CPCC should host a public online database for all internal Defence Team research and policies relating to sexual harassment and misconduct, gender, sexual orientation, race, diversity and inclusion, and culture change. If a document cannot be made public for security reasons or otherwise, it should still be listed in the database to facilitate access by persons with the requisite clearance or approval.

From my stakeholder interviews, I understand that enforcement of the DAOD 5062-1, Conduct of Social Science Research, and the related QR&O has the potential effect of “muzzling” members of the CAF that participate in social science research and so acts to stifle academic research.

For example, I note that while QR&O 19.14, Improper RemarksEndnote 1264 prohibits the making of remarks that tend to bring a superior into contempt, it contains an exemption to this prohibition for the purpose of the proper presentation of a grievance. It may be that a similar exemption could be introduced into the governing framework for the CAF to facilitate candid communication between members of the CAF and external researchers.

I also understand that proposed social science research about the DND and the CAF must first be approved by way of a rigorous multi-step processEndnote 1265. This process is managed by the DGMPRA, by way of the Social Science Research Review Board (SSRRB). As part of the vetting process, the SSRRB is tasked with conducting an ethical and technical review of the proposed research, regardless of whether it is from an internal or external sourceEndnote 1266.

The respective L1 organizations also play a role, as their sponsorship and approval is required for such proposals to go forward and the resulting work cannot be published without the L1 sponsor’s prior approvalEndnote 1267.

I understand from my stakeholder interviews that these gatekeeping functions can act as an impediment to external researchers having their research proposals approved, and to accessing the DND and the CAF to conduct their research. The process by which an external research proposal is approved should be streamlined to facilitate approval and access for external researchers. As an example, the CAF should consider waiving the SSRRB ethics review of an external proposal that has already undergone external ethics approvalEndnote 1268.

Recommendation #46

With input from the academic community, the QR&O listed at article 5.2 of the DAOD 5062-1 should be reviewed and revised as necessary to facilitate research. In addition, the CAF should consider waiving the SSRRB ethics review of an external proposal that has already been approved by the Research Ethics Board of an academic institution.

An external monitor is necessary

My recent revisit of the Somalia Commission’s work has been sobering. We have been here before. Little seems to change. Recommendations from its report that were not implemented remain in the discourse today and are seemingly under consideration by the CAF (such as the inspector general). The same can be said of the most recent recommendations made by Justice Deschamps.

One of the many problems with lack of implementation is that external recommendations eventually become, in part or in full, incompatible with each other. Procrastination, ill-advised initiatives that purport to but fail to address the issues, and repetition of recourse to outside advisors have all led to an unmanageable quantity of unimplemented recommendations.

The CAF is aware of this minefield. An October 2021 Directive, issued by the DM and the CDS, calls for the establishment of the the governance required to support interdepartmental efforts to implement the Deschamps and Fish recommendations, as well as my forthcoming ones, and those arising from the Final Settlement Agreement of the Heyder and Beattie class actionsEndnote 1269.

Procrastination, ill‑advised initiatives that purport to but fail to address the issues, and repetition of recourse to outside advisors have all led to an unmanageable quantity of unimplemented recommendations.

The Directive goes on to highlight the quagmire they find themselves in:

The challenges of implementing Justice Fish’s recommendations, and those expected from the IECR [this Report], cannot be overemphasized. They will require prioritization and a significant amount of time and resources. There are numerous interdependencies within DND/CAF, with other government departments (OGDs), and with other stakeholders and independent actors.

There are myriad interdependencies, which include, but are not limited to: CPCC initiatives, recommendations stemming from Parliamentary Committees (ex. FEWO), implementation activities surrounding An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (SC 2019, c 15), formerly known as Bill C-77, class action final settlement agreements, and the ongoing [review] by Justice Arbour. It is anticipated these [External Comprehensive Reviews] and related initiatives will result in substantial recommendations, a number of which relating to the [Military Justice System]. The coordination of the numerous initiatives underway and being contemplated is critical to avoid unintended second and third order effectsEndnote 1270.

I also highlight the following:

The [Government of Canada] has committed to providing Parliament with an implementation plan for the recommendations and providing regular updates. There will be an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability required as this work progresses alongside other related strategic initiatives. This will necessitate a common operating picture that must highlight the interdependencies, priorities, and sequencing to facilitate the execution of the implementation campaign plan and provide both internal and external audiences visibility on progressEndnote 1271.

[Emphasis added.]

To achieve the ends of the Directive, the DND and the CAF have stood up an External Comprehensive Reviews Implementation Committee (ECRIC). The ECRIC is responsible for developing and overseeing an Implementation Campaign Plan “to implement all remaining [Fish Report] recommendations and those applicable from other [external comprehensive reviews]Endnote 1272.”

The VCDS and the JAG are to provide strategic oversight for the implementation of recommendations, with the VCDS reporting up to the DM and the CDSEndnote 1273. The ECRIC membership will include a wide variety of stakeholders from the Defence Team.

The implementation stage – a “protracted period” as contemplated by the Directive – includes reporting on progress to Parliament and the public. The ECRIC will have served its purpose when the recommendations of external comprehensive reviews such as my own are “fully considered and implemented, or are on track towards implementation in a deliberate, synchronized, coherent, and phased manner.” Notably, ADM(RS) is both a member of the ECRIC, and tasked under the Directive with monitoring “progress of the implementation of the [Fish report] recommendations on a semi-annual basis” with results to be shared “at the Departmental Audit Committee every June and December as part of ADM(RS) regular validation of Management Action Plans (MAPs)Endnote 1274.”

I welcome this express commitment to accountability and to specific reporting responsibility set out in the Directive, with the ECRIC having to report to the Minister, DM and CDS “on a monthly basis”Endnote 1275, and on a semi-annual basis to the parliamentary Standing Committee by way of progress reports. The first of those was to be made in the fall of 2021. I have not been provided with any update on its statusEndnote 1276.

In addition to standing up the ECRIC, the CAF has also created an electronic “matrix” dashboard to help themselves navigate the external recommendation landscape. As I understand it, this matrix contains 500+ “culture-related” recommendations and tasks, from 18 different sources (not all of which are recommendations specific to or aimed at the CAF, e.g., the matrix includes reviews from the United States Department of Defence)Endnote 1277. They have already created the boxes within which to incorporate my recommendations.

To date, this work, housed within the CPCC, has centralized these recommendations and analyzed their content to identify trends. As I understand, this is the first time that external recommendations relating to culture change – from sources ranging from the Deschamps Report to the 2021 Report of the FEWO – have been “centrally housed” within the DND and the CAF. I understand that even the task of collecting the various external recommendations made to date was a challenge. The next steps are to include developing a framework to prioritize them and their implementationEndnote 1278.

At the outset, the work would become considerably more manageable if the CAF leadership, up to the Minister’s level, clearly indicated what recommendations they believe have become obsolete, superseded by others, or not aligned with the government’s agenda and will not be pursued. There is a limit to how many additional internal studies are required to make a decision on a matter of principle, or general policy direction.

I stress that these are recommendations. They are obviously not binding. If the Minister wishes not to implement some of them, or to delay implementation, she should say so.

They should then indicate the time frame within which they intend to implement the remaining recommendations. Priority should be given to matters that require legislative amendments. These benefit from democratic debate as to their merits and are time consuming. Bill C-77 came into force in 2019 and it is still not fully implemented. And this is a law, not a mere recommendation.

In parallel, simple initiatives with great impact should be immediately put in place, such as my recommendation that the CAF defer to the CHRC in the handling of sexual harassment complaints.

The proposed external monitor

The Mandate Letter states that the Minister is to work to end sexual misconduct in the Defence Team by, among other things, implementing the recommendations from my Review. I am encouraged to see this commitment.

The next step is the implementation, immediate or progressive, of outstanding external recommendations. This is where past events have demonstrated that the CAF must be held accountable. While not explicitly rejected, recommendations made by parliamentary standing committees, the OAG, and other external reviewers remain in limbo.

All external forms of oversight, except court orders and Acts of Parliament, are ultimately non-binding. The implementation of external recommendations depends on a combination of political will, capacity and accountability.

This is why I believe that if the Minister is determined to move forward with anything in this Report, she will need the help of an appropriately resourced external monitor, tasked with overseeing the implementation of this report and other external recommendations that she accepts. The external monitor should provide monthly updates to the minister and bi-annual public reports.

I see the external monitor playing a key role in holding the relevant stakeholders to account, including senior Defence Team leadership.

I see the external monitor playing a key role in holding the relevant stakeholders to account, including senior Defence Team leadership. For instance, the external monitor should pay particular attention to the civilianization of the investigation and prosecution of sexual harassment and misconduct – specifically monitoring and reporting on compliance with the recommendations to move criminal sexual offences to civilian police and prosecution authorities, and harassment and discrimination to the CHRC and CHRT. The external monitor could also play a key role in holding political actors to account, particularly with respect to the time it takes to implement the legislative amendments required by my recommendations.

The external monitor could also play a key role in holding political actors to account, particularly with respect to the time it takes to implement the legislative amendments required by my recommendations.

The external monitor could, eventually, take on a permanent role, like that of an inspector general. However, for the time being, to avoid history repeating itself and new external reviewers being appointed, the DND and the CAF should be made accountable for implementing what they claim to agree with, and should be supervised closely in that regard.

This would ensure ongoing accountability for DND and CAF leadership and challenge the insularity with which senior leadership has, to date, reacted when faced with the recommendations from outsiders.

I note that the role of an external monitor is not new. An example is the Minister’s Monitoring Committee on Change in the DND and the CAF (MMC), set up in October 1997 as an independent oversight body to monitor the implementation and efficacy of change initiatives arising out of the Somalia Commission, as well as the following five reports: the MND Report, Dickson Report I, Dickson Report II, SCRR Report, and Belzile ReportEndnote 1279.

The MMC’s mandate extended to the hundreds of recommendations arising from these six reportsEndnote 1280. Its terms of reference entitled it to:

  1. receive updates on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the aforementioned reports;
  2. have access to all documentation the MMC considers relevant to its mandate;
  3. visit any site of the CAF that the MMC considers relevant to its mandate; and
  4. observe and document the rate of progress, experiences, and conditions under which change is being implemented at the DND and the CAFEndnote 1281.

The MMC was required to report its findings and observations at regular intervals to the Minister and present semi-annual written reports with recommendations. It released three interim reports, in March 1998, November 1998 and July 1999, and a final report in December 1999Endnote 1282.

Strikingly, in my view, the MMC observed what it saw as “putting the activity ‘cart’ before the conceptual ‘horseEndnote 1283.’” Essentially, it described the response of the DND and the CAF as being a “checkbox” exercise.

Interestingly, and again – history repeats itself – in its final report, the MMC highlighted the changes made by the DND and the CAF at a time of serious difficulties for the Defence Team, “arising from a heightened pace and range of operational activities and the strains and stresses of financial and personnel shortagesEndnote 1284.” Regrettably, this is true again today. It may always be the case. But it must stop being an impediment to critical reform or, worse, an excuse for inertia.

Recommendation #47

As a first step, the Minister should inform Parliament by the end of the year of the recommendations in this Report that she does not intend to implement.

Recommendation #48

The Minister should immediately appoint an external monitor, mandated to oversee the implementation of the recommendations in this Report and other external recommendations that she accepts.

The external monitor should be assisted by a small team of their choosing that is external to the Defence Team. They should have access to all documents, information, individuals and entities they deem relevant, including ECRIC.

The external monitor should produce a monthly “monitoring assessment and advice” report directly to the Minister and publish bi-annual public reports.


There are many mechanisms in place, both internally and externally, designed to improve performance and ensure accountability in the CAF. Some are independent, others internal. Taken together, they cover much of the functions of an inspector general. Adding another mechanism is not the answer. Making the existing mechanisms work better is.

There is a point of diminishing returns that is reached by simply adding actors to an already crowded field. Standing up an inspector general to tackle the issue of sexual misconduct in the CAF would require many of the existing mechanisms and roles, such as the ADM(RS) or the Ombudsman, to be modified or eliminated to avoid duplication in function and resources.

The current challenge for the CAF is to reap the benefits of the independent external support it has received over the years and is continuing to solicit. It is this type of independent oversight that is most critically needed.

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