Canadian Armed Forces First Progress Report on Addressing Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
February 1, 2016
Covering the period June through December 2015
Prepared for the Chief of the Defence Staff by the Chief of Military Personnel
Instances of sexual misconduct strike at the heart of the most important component of the Canadian Armed Forces: its members. The personal and institutional damage that results from sexual misconduct can be acute; sexual misconduct, almost invariably, leaves both indelible traces and profound scars on victims and the institution alike—including by impairing organizational efficiency. Some cases of sexual misconduct make the headlines, others not. That this problem is part of the culture of the Canadian Armed Forces could not come as a surprise to soldiers, seamen and aviators. However, society, including the Canadian Armed Forces, evolves. Changing an organization’s culture, though challenging, is possible.
In the days following the submission of the External Review Report on 27 March 2015, the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces accepted the Report’s first recommendation: to acknowledge the existence of the problem. This early step may appear deceptively easy. In reality, it had significant consequences. Most importantly, it has meant that the leadership has had to take concrete action to address the problem. The work accomplished to date is described in this First Progress Report. To the members and victims, I ask for patience.
Establishing a new structure to respond more effectively to complaints of sexual misconduct and to support victims was a passage obligé, but not the goal. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is a means to respond effectively to sexual misconduct, not an end itself. The next steps will raise more difficult challenges, such as modifying ingrained attitudes and rebuilding trust. In addition, although the organization has unique needs, the Canadian Armed Forces are part of a broader environment that includes the Ministry of National Defence and the Treasury Board with which some policy adjustments must be coordinated. Nevertheless, however challenging, the course appears to be set for important change. The Chief of Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, has himself taken the lead on the issue, making it a personal task. Lieutenant General Christine Whitecross, who was involved from the outset in the design of the strategic plan, is in charge of the implementation. They understand the urgency and the importance of the issue.
Understanding the problem, responding to the needs, supporting the victims, and preventing future occurrences—the lines of effort developed by the Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct—require a focus on substance, not just new organizational structures. At the same time, the early enthusiasm of Canadian Armed Forces leaders to address sexual misconduct needs to be sustained with resources and deep commitment. I underscore the comment quoted in this report that “culture is not a thing to be changed but a dynamic system … that must be addressed in a nonlinear fashion”. While reliable performance measures are hard to identify, they are necessary to assess whether the efforts are having a positive effect. For example, as I noted in the course of the External Review, a low level of reported incidents of sexual misconduct may easily be interpreted, as indicating a low rate of occurrence—or it may be the symptom of a deep and pervasive lack of trust in the system. Rigorous assessment is therefore critical.
The crisis cycle which has characterized the approach of the Canadian Armed Forces to sexual misconduct to date must be stopped. The emphasis must now be on proactively and systematically transforming the culture of the Armed Forces in order to allow the members to operate to their full capability. Canadians expect the organization’s leadership to be engaged in a transformative cultural change. The path for such change is laid out in this first Report.
Marie Deschamps, C.C., Ad. E.
Table of Contents
- Implementing External Review Authority Recommendations
- Discussion – Confronting Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
- Understanding Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
- Acknowledging the problem – Phase One
- Understanding the Scope of the Problem
- Responding to Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
- Supporting Victims of Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
- Preventing Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
- Programs and activities to better integrate women and influence a culture change
- Next Steps
The presence of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces undermines the institution’s ability to achieve its mission of defending Canadians and Canadian interests. By corroding the inherent trust and cohesion amongst brothers and sisters in arms that is at the heart of an effective fighting force, such abhorrent conduct undermines nothing less than the Canadian Armed Forces operational capability. For the sake of members and for the effectiveness of the institution, the Canadian Armed Forces must move decisively to eliminate this behaviour and permanently change its culture to prevent recurrence.
“This stops now.”
General Jonathan Vance, 24 July 2015
Operation HONOUR is the institution wide military operation launched by the Chief of the Defence Staff on 14 August 2015 to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces. It outlines the specific groupings, tasks and timeframes required to achieve this objective.
The Canadian Armed Forces has committed to report on progress made in addressing harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour1 on a recurring basis. While it was originally deemed that a quarterly review would be optimal, it has subsequently become clear that the scope of the challenge and complexity of many of the solutions lend themselves to semi-annual reporting. Lengthening the reporting period will add more substance to each report, without in any way diminishing the Canadian Armed Forces commitment to regular, sustained and transparent reporting.
This initial report covers the period of June through December 2015. It captures the full breadth of the Canadian Armed Forces response to the harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour problem, including initiatives and changes taken in response to the External Review Authority’s ten recommendations, as well as actions and outcomes generated by Operation HONOUR. This progress report will also identify challenges to positive change and will outline next steps. Ultimately, these reports will provide successive comprehensive snapshots of the permanent, positive change implemented to ensure a working environment based on dignity and respect for all members.
The Canadian Armed Forces Action Plan involves response along four major lines of operation – Understand, Respond, Support and Prevent, which include a coordinated effort in the review and development of policies, programs, education, training, program effectiveness measurement and victim2 support. Central to this, and clearly the most challenging aspect of the endeavour, is the requirement to influence and change culture across the institution. This will require sustained effort and influence at all levels of the Canadian Armed Forces. As one military historian has observed, “… culture is not a thing to be changed but a dynamic system … a “wicked” problem - complex, interconnected social or cultural problems that must be addressed in a nonlinear fashion.”3 Notwithstanding the complexity of the issue, it is absolutely essential that the Canadian Armed Forces engage this challenge decisively.
Sexual misconduct was brought to the fore by the media in the 1990s as a major issue within the Canadian Armed Forces, and became subject of intensive reporting again in 2014.4 The Chief of the Defence Staff at the time commissioned an external review by former Supreme Court Justice Mme Marie Deschamps. Her experiential research was conducted through a variety of means including interviews, visits to Bases and Wings, email contact, subject matter expert engagement, and review of policies, programs and documents. Mme Deschamps produced a detailed report of findings and recommendations that was publically released on 30 April 2015. In her findings, Mme Deschamps highlighted the existence of an underlying sexualized culture in the Canadian Armed Forces, which if not addressed, is conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The External Review Authority identified ten specific recommendations that underscored the nature of the problem within the institution, recommendations that addressed not only the culture of inappropriate sexual misconduct but the distrust of the military chain of command by victims.
In anticipation of the External Review Authority’s report, the then Chief of the Defence Staff directed the stand-up of the Canadian Armed Forces Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct (hereafter referred to as “Strategic Response Team”) under the command of then Major General Chris Whitecross. The Strategic Response Team was tasked to serve as the focal point for the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy and associated action plan to address the recommendations of the External Review Authority in order to modify and improve behaviour throughout the Canadian Armed Forces, and solidifying a culture of dignity and respect for all Canadian Armed Forces members – one reflecting the highest professional standards. Concurrent with the release of the External Review Authority report, the Action Plan on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour was published, describing the Canadian Armed Forces plan to address the ten recommendations.
The current Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, reaffirmed the commitment to address the problem on the occasion of his change of command in July 2015, which external observers characterized as a clear, tough message outlining that such behaviour had absolutely no place within the Canadian Armed Forces.5 General Vance accepted all ten recommendations and committed to implementing them as rapidly and effectively as possible. He followed this up with the release of Operation HONOUR in August 2015, with the specific mission of eliminating harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces.6 The Chief of the Defence Staff briefed his senior leadership7 on Operation HONOUR on 20 August 2015, directing decisive action and reiterating his unequivocal commitment to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence are working together to ensure that harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is eliminated and that victims of such behaviour are supported. The creation of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre8 (hereafter referred to as “Response Centre”) is a product of this collaboration.
Responsibility and accountability for implementation of the Action Plan is not simply resident within one organization; members of the Canadian Armed Forces and key Department of National Defence leaders have been tasked with deliverables that span from immediate to longer term. The response is an integrated, systems-based approach with designated leaders, with implications across the institution. However, the responsibility for success of this is squarely on the shoulders of the leadership – the essential key players in this operation. As identified by Mme Deschamps, “The time is right for the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces to tackle the problem of sexual harassment and assault.”9 Lieutenant General Whitecross, as the Chief of Military Personnel, continues to provide strategic direction to the Strategic Response Team in collaboration with the Canadian Armed Forces chain of command to coordinate the implementation of the ten recommendations and the Operation HONOUR tasks across Canadian Armed Forces. Reporting to her is Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett, an experienced leader and the appointed “Champion for Women” who leads the Strategic Response Team in this work. The Chief of the Defence Staff established the Response Centre under the leadership of Ms. Jan Lalonde, an experienced senior executive, reporting directly to the Deputy Minister. This reporting relationship is outside of the Canadian Armed Forces chain of command. In February 2016, Ms. Susan Harrison will replace Ms. Lalonde.
The plan to address harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour originally developed by the Strategic Response Team and published 27 April 2015 remains the guiding strategy for the ongoing Canadian Armed Forces response. Simply defined, the strategy consists of four distinct but inter-related lines of effort; understanding the issue, responding to incidents of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, supporting victims, and preventing occurrences. The difference in this approach from past attempts at addressing sexual misconduct is threefold; it is an integrated holistic approach to the problem, progress will be measured throughout implementation, and the effort will be sustained over the long term.To address harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour across the institution, the Canadian Armed Forces must fully understand the problem before it can be addressed – thus the immediate task for the institution is to understand the nature of the issue and grasp the scope and complexity of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Concurrently, the Canadian Armed Forces must continue to respond to incidents promptly, effectively and fairly. Hence, the second line of effort is to enhance reporting and improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ overall response to incidents of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. As a priority, the Canadian Armed Forces must be able to deliver an improved level of support to victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, and this support must be provided effectively and with sensitivity. Thus, the third line of effort is to improve the support available to members. The strategy’s fourth line of effort is the long-term prevention of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, in part through the development of more effective education and training programs and pertinent policies, and partly through increased strategic level awareness through an effective performance measurement capability. These combined efforts will help ensure that the long-term vision for the Canadian Armed Forces is attained and maintained, thus upholding the culture of dignity and respect for everyone with the highest standards of conduct.
The cornerstone of any military is the ability to respond quickly to a wide variety of challenges. Personnel readiness is a function of many factors, the most basic of which is a high degree of physical and mental fitness and team cohesion. Harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour grievously erodes the unit cohesion necessary for the successful completion of military duties. It is from this perspective that harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour involving members of the Canadian Armed Forces is an operational readiness issue, incongruent with its ethics and values and principles.
The Canadian Armed Forces possesses a systemic and deliberate approach to operations. It involves a methodology and language that the organization understands instinctively and unequivocally. It is an approach that is consistent across all three environments and is at the heart of what the Canadian Armed Forces does and how it operates. It is for that reason that the Chief of the Defence Staff issued orders and directed specific tasks through an operation order. The use of an operation order to deal with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour made it very clear to all that this behaviour is a real and serious problem to the Canadian Armed Forces which requires the direct, deliberate and sustained engagement by the leadership and the entire chain of command to address. Sustained engagement on this issue is critical to the effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces as a military force.
The operation order was followed by a comprehensive communications campaign that began with all senior leaders being brought together to hear consistent, clear and direct information about the mission and the action plan from the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer, the three Environmental Commanders, and the Chief of Military Personnel (concurrently, the Commander of Military Personnel Command). This session strongly reinforced the Chief of the Defence Staff’s mission, intent and orders.
The specified mission as articulated in the Chief of the Defence Staff’s intent is “…to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces by leveraging the unequivocal support of my Commanders and all leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces. Any form of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is a threat to the morale and operational readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces, undermines good order and discipline, is inconsistent with the values of the profession of arms and the ethical principles of Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, and is wrong. I will not allow harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within our organization, and I shall hold all leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces accountable for failures that permit its continuation.”
The Chief of the Defence Staff further stated that there “…shall be no grace period for the application of our values and ethics. Proper conduct starts now.” In order to build trust and confidence in both the Canadian Armed Forces members and the public, the Chief of the Defence Staff further ordered the Canadian Armed Forces to maintain transparency in all actions taken under Operation HONOUR. Predators and bullies were identified as not being welcome in the Canadian Armed Forces and commanders were reminded that they must take decisive action to deal with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Operation HONOUR is a whole-of-Canadian Armed Forces effort leveraging Canadian Armed Forces leadership at all levels to stop harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and provide better support to affected members. The Chief of Military Personnel / Commander of Military Personnel Command was tasked to initiate the development of policies, education, training, and additional member support in concert with key stakeholders across the organization. Operation HONOUR is being executed in four phases:
- Phase one, the initiation phase (August – September 2015), required the Vice Chief of Defence Staff to complete a comprehensive strategy and associated action plan to address the remaining recommendations of the External Review Authority report and develop the mandate, governance and operational model of the Response Centre;
- Phase two, to be completed by 1 July 2016, requires Commanders to continue to personally oversee the communication and application of discipline, extant leadership doctrine, and orders and policies specifically in relation to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. At the same time, the Chief of the Defence Staff ordered the accelerated stand-up of the Response Centre and the development and introduction of performance measures with results, and when completed, to be reported to the Chief of the Defence Staff;
- Phase three calls for the issue of revised policies and the delivery of mission-specific training to its leaders. Concurrent with the execution of this phase, the Response Centre will transition to a full operational capability and the effectiveness of each of the activities is to be measured, with the results reported to the Chief of the Defence Staff by 1 July 2017; and,
- The last and final phase, Phase four, requires that the Strategic Response Team coordination functions be absorbed into a Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces that is better oriented, educated and trained to administer them in a manner that is fully consistent with Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Code of Values and Ethics. It is expected that Commanders will continue to personally oversee the maintenance of values and the application of administrative and/or disciplinary measures and that the Response Centre will continue to function at full capability.
Implementing External Review Authority Recommendations
The following section describes the actions underway to implement each of the ten recommendations. Where Canadian Armed Forces-wide issues have yet to be addressed we will note where initial research has been conducted and outline the action plan developed by the Strategic Response Team to focus on the specific issue.
“We demand and we expect a higher standard of conduct from ourselves as members of the Canadian Armed Forces. This is a problem we have to act decisively to address. Frankly, our operational effectiveness depends on the unwavering trust and cohesion amongst all of our members, regardless of their gender or their background.”
General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff in his press conference releasing the External Review Authority report, 30 April 2015
Recommendation 1: Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the Canadian Armed Forces and undertake to address it.
The leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces clearly acknowledge that harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is a serious problem that exists within the Canadian Armed Forces and have, without exception, undertaken to deal with it. Prior to the receipt of the External Review Authority report in the spring 2015, the Chief of the Defence Staff directed the establishment of the Strategic Response Team to begin to plan the response. Both the Chief of the Defence Staff and Canadian Forces CWO publicly acknowledged the presence of inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces at the 30 April 2015 Press Conference, and at the same time, then Major General Whitecross outlined the strategy to be used in addressing this abhorrent behaviour.
Currently, Operation HONOUR is the Chief of the Defence Staff’s dedicated direction to address the issue. These orders have been issued throughout the chain of command to every unit in the Canadian Armed Forces. To ensure that distribution was complete, all Commanders were directed to draft their own orders to their subordinate elements within a specified time frame and to report back that the action was complete. On 18 November 2015 the Chief of the Defence Staff followed up on his initial orders to confirm his original orders had been interpreted and transmitted throughout the Canadian Armed Forces.10
Prior to the issuance of Operation HONOUR, Lieutenant General Whitecross as Commander of the Strategic Response Team conducted over 36 town halls in more than 13 bases and wings across Canada with a view to opening the dialogue on inappropriate sexual behaviour with all military members regardless of rank, and for them to understand the impact this behaviour has on individuals, the workplace and the operational effectiveness of the organisation. These sessions informed members about the seriousness of the problem and the Canadian Armed Forces’ approach to dealing with it, as well as providing valuable and personal insight on how harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour has impacted some members.
The commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and their subordinate commanders, have similarly completed awareness sessions across their commands, as have the other Level 111 organizations.
“I will not engage in any discussion or debate about the degree or severity of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. It does not matter, for even a single incident is too many, and even unintentional harm or offense remains harmful and offensive.”
General Jonathan Vance in his first message as Chief of the Defence Staff to the entire Canadian Armed Forces
The work within the commands has gone well beyond awareness and understanding of the issue of inappropriate sexual behaviour as it has also included discussion on the foundational principles of the Profession of Arms, conduct, ethics, professionalism, discipline, cohesion and operational effectiveness. The Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, for example, has formally advised all ranks that any debate on the existence or magnitude of the problem will not be tolerated and victims are their primary concern and will be supported. The Royal Canadian Navy has taken swift and visible action to relieve a commanding officer after allegations of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and is taking action at all levels to comply with the Chief of the Defence Staff’s direction and intent on holding leaders accountable. It is also working to embed scenarios related to inappropriate sexual behaviour into sea training exercises and combat readiness.
The Canadian Army responded to the initial External Review Authority’s report by releasing immediate direction to all Commanders to conduct leader led dialogues as a first step to reshaping its outlook and instituting change. The Canadian Army’s Unit Ethics Coordinator’s Course was lengthened by one day to include a detailed educational piece on Operation HONOUR. Additionally, Canadian Army Divisions have established links to local resources with a view to broadening understanding of inappropriate sexual behaviour and its institutional impact. All Canadian Army courses have had awareness briefings on inappropriate sexual behaviour added to their course content.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has reviewed and updated their ethics and harassment programs offering workshops to present new skills and tools to assist Commanders in strengthening the Air Force Ethos and have updated their websites with the resources specific to eliminating harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Operation HONOUR briefs are now to be included as part of the Wing welcome activities shortly after the arrival of new members and Wing Commanders and subordinate Commanders have ensured that all their members are afforded and encouraged to take advantage of unconstrained access to a senior officer (minimum rank of Major) to discuss/report inappropriate sexual behaviour.
While we accept that there may still be some members who are reluctant to admit the seriousness of inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces, leaders at all levels acknowledge that such conduct is a serious problem within the Canadian Armed Forces, and have accepted the responsibility to eliminate it from the institution. These leaders continue to work proactively with all members of their team to better understand the issue, support victims, respond to incidents and ultimately prevent future occurrences.
Recommendation 2: Establish a strategy to effect cultural change to eliminate the sexualized environment and to better integrate women, including by conducting a gender-based analysis of Canadian Armed Forces policies.
The development and dissemination of Operation HONOUR was the first and most important step in establishing an effective strategy to effect cultural change in the Canadian Armed Forces – directing a defined end state for the institution where the working environment is free of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The high-level strategy is described in the Action Plan released on 30 April 2015 – a strategy that defines four lines of effort; understand the issue, support victims, respond to incidents and prevent future occurrences.
Fifteen years ago, the United Nations Security Council adopted its first resolution on women, peace, and security. At that time, Canada was already at the forefront of the integration of women in the military. Since then, the Canadian Armed Forces has made further progress. Pre-deployment training includes a module that ensures those deploying on operations understand the relevance of gender perspectives in armed conflict, and training programs have been developed to share that experience and knowledge with other peacekeeping militaries. The Canadian Armed Forces are now integrating these gender perspectives into operational planning, execution, and assessment.
In September 2015, the Chief of the Defence Staff issued direction to create gender advisor positions both in Canadian Joint Operations Command and the Strategic Joint Staff.12 He also directed that relevant changes be made to Joint Doctrine, education, and training. This strategic initiative reflects a progressive way of looking at operations. It goes beyond the Canadian Armed Forces Employment Equity plan to further incorporate gender perspectives into program development, equipment procurement, infrastructure management, military personnel policies and other elements of the care and management of members, all of which have a bearing on the integration of women into the wider Canadian Armed Forces.
Finally, the Canadian Armed Forces is developing a comprehensive Diversity Strategy to ensure that the military is reflective of the Canadian population it serves and is strengthened through diversity. A draft of the Diversity Strategy and the tasks associated with it will be developed by February 2016.
Recommendation 3: Create an independent center outside of the Canadian Armed Forces with the responsibility for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct, as well as prevention, coordination and monitoring of training, victim support, monitoring of accountability, and research, and to act as a central authority for the collection of data.
As a result of Operation HONOUR, the opening of the Response Centre – the first such organization for the Canadian Armed Forces – was accelerated to 15 September 2015. Members who have experienced or been affected by harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour now have access to an independent, dedicated centre outside of the military chain of command. The Response Centre provides initial support to current Canadian Armed Forces members by phone or e-mail, in the form of information on existing resources and procedures, in addition to providing active and empathetic listening.
This arrangement that characterizes the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre and the Canadian Armed Forces Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct is a result of the unique Canadian construct within which the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence operate.
To achieve its mission, the Response Centre has consulted with and established partnerships to facilitate members’ access to services that meet their needs.
The combination of the Strategic Response Team and the Response Centre working together to ensure coverage of the range of activities described in this recommendation. Although the two organizations work closely together to further the development of policies, training etc., the Response Centre is independent of the military chain of command due to its reporting line to the Deputy Minister whereas the Strategic Response Team is clearly in the military chain of command, reporting to the Chief of Military Personnel, who in turn, is responsible to the Chief of Defence Staff.
The very important decision to focus on support for victims and to take immediate action ahead of the forecasted schedule to establish the Response Centre, has had a major impact on the implementation of other aspects of the ten recommendations and the foundational work on awareness, culture change, policy and program review. Faced with a range of competing priorities, the Canadian Armed Forces’ focus shifted from the strategic institutional issue of culture to the more immediate requirement to better support victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The Canadian Armed Forces moved with urgency to enhance victim support for its members, while continuing in-depth analysis of the more complex dimensions of the problem.
The Canadian Armed Forces immediately re-balanced priorities, placing greater emphasis on supporting victims, a best practice suggested by international visits. This shift accelerated the establishment of the Response Centre on 1 September 2015, approximately three months ahead of the original plan.
The Response Centre is the first ever organization for the Canadian Armed Forces dedicated to supporting victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. It is one of the cornerstones of the response to the External Review Authority Report on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces and Operation HONOUR. The External Review Authority in her statement to the Standing Committee on National Defence stated that the establishment of the Centre reporting to the Deputy Minister of the Department of National Defence satisfied her criterion for independence.13
The Response Centre opened on 1 September 2015 and began offering support to Canadian Armed Forces members on 15 September 2015.14 There is still much work to be done in order to fully understand members’ needs and to research, define, and implement a support delivery model to best meet those needs. The Response Centre’s governance and operational model continues to be developed to include the establishment of an Advisory Council that will assist both the Response Centre and Strategic Response Team efforts.
The Response Centre provides initial support to current members by phone or e-mail, offers active and empathetic listening, emotional support, assistance in the form of information on existing resources and complaint mechanisms, as well as facilitated access to these resources when requested.
While remaining independent of the chain of command as an essential element in improving trust, the Response Centre is communicating with the Canadian Armed Forces by providing general data on trends and issues to assist in policy, education and training revisions. Input from the Response Centre is an essential component to influencing the Canadian Armed Forces’ culture, while being carefully structured to respect confidentiality of personal information. The balance between independence and influence will continue to be studied and developed.
The Response Centre has consulted and established partnerships with internal and external subject matter experts and service providers to facilitate members’ access to services that meet their needs. Partnerships have been established with CF Health Services Group, CF Chaplaincy Branch, and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (hereafter referred to as “National Investigation Service”). The Response Centre staff also met and consulted with other partners including the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program (CFMAP), the Military Family Resource Center’s Family Information Line, Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian), Veterans Affairs Canada, Sexual Assault Centres and Sexual Assault Programs at some hospitals.
An interim Case Management system is in place, which serves to capture the information of the contacts in a confidential and protected manner. The Response Centre is working with Departmental Information Management personnel and the Strategic Response Team to define and refine the requirements for the further development of this capability. The new Case Management system is targeted for completion in the first quarter of the new fiscal year (April – June 2017). The following quantitative data represents information captured from the Response Centre’s opening day, 15 September, 2015 up to 31 December, 2015. Of note, the current Case Management system is a limited manual system and adjustments made in the last two months on the way information is captured by the Response and Support team members, results in a slight margin of error that should be factored into the reported numbers.
Figure 1. Response Centre Contacts, 15 Sept to 31 Dec 2015: The model shows that 204 individuals contacted the Centre for a total of 246 contacts. Of the 246 times people contacted the SMRC, 196 instances were by telephone and 50 by email. Of the 204 individuals, 156 of those were CAF members.
SMRC Total = 246
Gender was 49% female, 50% male (with 2 not captured)
Numbers do not necessarily represent those directly experiencing sexual misconduct.
SMRC Contacts, Clientele
Figure 2. Reasons Members contacted the Response Centre: The model shows of the 204 individuals who contacted the Centre between 15 Sept and 31 Dec 2015, 99 of them requested information regarding SMRC services and/or other existing complaint or grievance procedures; 53 contacted SMRC about a sexual offence; and 32 contacted SMRC about sexual harassment.
Main categories of info:
- Military Police/CFNIS
- Harassment process
- Department of National Defence Civilian resources
Top Reasons For SMRC Contact
Figure 3. Services Rendered for Canadian Armed Forces Members: This model shows that of the 156 members who contacted the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, 69 were looking for information about available processes such as Military Police/National Investigation Service, harassment process, CFMAP, DND civilian resources; 52 were looking for information about the centre; and 26 requested facilitated access to service providers, which includes a counsellor from the centre initiating a call with a contact person before referring the member.
Total number of Canadian Armed Forces Members who contacted the SMRC = 156
Main categories of info: Military Police/NIS, harassment process, CFMAP, Department of National Defence Civilian resources
Facilitated access to MP Liaison Officer = 23
Facilitated access - In certain circumstances, members may request assistance in accessing services. With their consent, the SMRC can facilitate transfers to service providers which include initiating a call with a contact person before referring the member.
Services Rendered to CAF Members
The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (hereafter referred to as “Provost Marshal”) has reviewed the Military Police data collection practices and is implementing procedural and technological improvements to provide greater understanding and clarity of the extent of sexual misconduct complaints reported to the Military Police. Procedurally, the Provost Marshal has initiated training aimed at improving data collection within the Security and Military Police Information System. Shared Services Canada and the Canadian Forces Shared Services Group are working together to accelerate the pace of critical updates to the Security and Military Police Information System that will include better analysis tools.
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group have resolved a long-standing issue of using appropriate International Classification of Disease codes within the Canadian Forces Health Information System for patients who have been victims of sexual misconduct, simplifying the long-term collection of statistical data.
Recommendation 4: Allow members to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, or simply to request support services without the obligation to trigger a formal complaint process.
As of September 15, 2015 with the stand-up of the Response Centre, members are able to call the Response Centre without triggering an investigation. The Provost Marshal has assigned a Military Police Liaison Officer to the Strategic Response Team and to the Response Centre. Initial victim feedback indicates that this relationship is serving them well and those who call feel more comfortable dealing with a consistent contact who understands their story and makes a connection with the caller. Of the 23 calls referred from the Response Centre to the Military Police Liaison Officer, 6 have become investigations.
The Canadian Armed Forces is now seeking options to extend this capability beyond the Response Centre to encourage more victims to report. A common message that has been transmitted by the Chief of the Defence Staff and all senior commanders is that members are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Response Centre, their chain of command, medical authorities, chaplains, military or civilian police, or to a trusted friend.15
Further to this, the Surgeon General has issued clarifying directives to all clinicians within the Canadian Forces Health Services with respect to their roles as part of a health care system and as individual clinicians. First and foremost, they were reminded of their responsibility to protect their patients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality, as well as ensuring they have access to the most appropriate health care when they have been victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The directive also addresses actions to take in circumstances whereby patients may disclose to their health care provider that they have been the victims of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour outside of or within a health care setting, and when a patient makes a formal complaint of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour against a health care provider.
As the full operating capability of the Response Centre is developed, work will continue on options for reporting mechanisms that will not trigger formal complaint processes. The Provost Marshal has started an analysis on options that would allow for preservation of evidence in support of future investigations when victims are not yet ready to report.
Further, the Canadian Armed Forces has established a single-issue action team under the direction of the Strategic Response Team, to further develop the essential aspects of implementing this recommendation.
Recommendation 5: Develop a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all dimensions of the member’s relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces; Develop a definition of adverse personal relationship that specifically addresses relationships between members of different rank, and creates a presumption of an adverse personal relationship where individuals involved are of different rank, unless the relationship is properly disclosed; Define sexual assault in the policy as intentional, non-consensual touching of a sexual nature; and, Give guidance on the requirement for consent, including by addressing the impact on genuine consent of a number of factors, including intoxication, differences in rank, and the chain of command.
An in-depth review of definitions and the simplification of the associated language is a clear and pressing requirement for the Canadian Armed Forces. The lack of progress in this area is a serious concern, because of its foundational nature. Therefore, the priority of clarifying definitions must increase in the next quarter.
The Canadian Armed Forces has identified policies and programs for review, included new terminology and explanations with examples in its Town Halls, soldier cards and briefings. Over the next quarter, it will complete a more fulsome review of definitions and terminology associated with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. As part of the analysis, consideration will be given to how these can be best defined, developed and implemented in integrated settings where public servants and military members work together.
The Canadian Armed Forces continues to provide briefings and educational sessions to improve understanding and place emphasis on consent in the context of sexual activities and on what constitutes harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The Canadian Armed Forces also continues to use innovative resources from civilian sources as well as military Allies to assist in our understanding, comprehension and awareness campaign.
Figure 4. Soldier cards (front and back) distributed across the Canadian Armed Forces
Information distributed on “soldier cards” as illustrated in Figure 4, provide additional information on harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and actions expected of all members. The continuum of sexual behaviour and associated leadership responsibilities is illustrated in Figure 5. Posters have also been distributed across the Canadian Armed Forces and include contact information for the Response Centre as well as local resources for support.
Figure 5. The Continuum of Behaviour and Leadership responsibility: This model shows across the top a range of actions with corresponding leadership responsibility underneath each. For Appropriate Behaviour (maintain the command climate, model CAF ethos, maintain a diversity perspective), Sexualized Social Behaviour (Examine command climate, model CAF ethos, diversity perspective, use intervention, verbal counselling, mentoring, disciplinary and administrative action), Sexual Harassment (document and evaluate, victim support, disciplinary and administrative action as required, seek legal advice if in doubt)and Sexual Offences (Seek legal advice, notify Military Police, victim support and assistance, other disciplinary and administrative actions as appropriate).
Recommendation 6: Develop a unified policy approach to address inappropriate sexual conduct and include as many aspects as possible of inappropriate sexual conduct in a single policy using plain language.
As a renewed priority, policy review and development will be a primary focus in upcoming months. As a first step, we have reviewed and identified policies and programs related to harassment, inappropriate sexual behaviour, ethos and professionalism and conduct. The Canadian Armed Forces may consider a consolidated approach for some policies that impact military and civilian members of the Defence Team and we will work in concert where there is overlap and it makes sense to have a single policy. The development of policy in an integrated workplace setting requires extensive consultation and determination on how to improve existing approaches within and between Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, and the Strategic Response Team’s effort has been focused solely on the Canadian Armed Forces and not on the integrated workforce at this time.
Although tangible progress in this area is in the initial phase, the team has completed extensive research and preparatory work through the policy subject matter expert assigned to Strategic Response Team. A review of relevant Canadian Armed Forces policies has been completed and equivalent policies from allied militaries and other domestic organizations (such as universities) have been collated and prepared for review. The team has also consulted a number of Canadian institutions and universities who have provided copies of their sexual assault action plans, from which relevant lessons are being learned.
The Strategic Response Team will chair the first policy working group in January 2016 with representatives from across the Canadian Armed Forces, including key stakeholders, to develop a unified, plain-language policy approach to address harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, with as many aspects as possible, in a single policy. To assist the team, a comprehensive harassment research plan has also been developed, which should inform the advancement of policy development in this area.
The Strategic Response Team Policy subject matter expert identified a number of related polices involved in meeting the Chief of the Defence Staff’s aim of a unified policy approach on harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.16
In addition to the ongoing policy related activity, the Royal Canadian Navy with its Conduct Renewal Initiative, has already begun to address aspects of inappropriate conduct and sexual misconduct in its rewrite of the Guide to the Divisional System, In-Routine policies, and Ship's Standing Orders – actions which should be completed by early 2016. These changes will be distributed to the other Environments for their use.
Recommendation 7: Simplify the harassment process by: Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance; and reducing emphasis on ADR.
In addition to the policies, programs and processes specific to complaints regarding harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, the Strategic Response Team is working closely with the Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (IC2M) group under the Canadian Armed Forces Grievance authority, responsible for transforming the Canadian Armed Forces’ Complaint Management System as they develop a simple, integrated complaint mechanism that is responsive to and trusted by members and the chain of command.
Until new guidelines and policies can be developed and put into effect, interim efforts are underway to boost the effectiveness of the current harassment process; for example, the Canadian Army is increasing emphasis on ensuring there are trained Harassment Advisors in all units. Feedback from subordinate formations reveals that there is a groundswell of support for satellite offices supporting the harassment reporting and investigative processes – an initiative that will be considered in the new policy.
The Royal Canadian Navy is seeking to enhance processes for removal from appointment or workspace of alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct while investigations are conducted, and is proactively providing alternative employment options aimed at ensuring both separation and support to the victim.
The majority of Royal Canadian Air Force CO’s Harassment Policy statements have been amended to include mention of Operation HONOUR and Wings/Units who have not yet amended their Harassment Policy statements will do so not later than 31 January 2016.
Recommendation 8: Allow victims of sexual assault to request, with the support of the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, transfer of the complaint to civilian authorities: provide information explaining the reasons when transfer is not affected.
Presently, victims of alleged sexual assault are able to make complaints to either civilian or military authorities. For allegations of sexual assault, both the military and civilian justice systems share concurrent jurisdiction.
With regards to investigations, the Provost Marshal is centralizing decision making in sexual assault investigations to better enable decisions in regard to requests for civilian authorities to assume jurisdiction. The Provost Marshal is also examining the possibility of establishing civilian employee case management positions to increase the level of experience, and secondment positions for civilian police to increase interoperability and consistency of approach.
In terms of prosecutions in the military justice system, the Director of Military Prosecutions has established prosecution policies related to sexual offences and responding to victims since 2000. For example, in determining the appropriate jurisdiction to determine whether charges should proceed in the military or civilian system, the military prosecutor considers a number of factors, including the views of the complainant. Director of Military Prosecutions is currently reviewing its policies in light of the External Review Authority report.
Options to place additional emphasis on the importance of a victim’s views in relation to jurisdiction are being examined with respect to Provost Marshal and Director Military Prosecutions policies while respecting their investigation and prosecutorial independence.
Recommendation 9: Assign responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, including the responsibility for advocating on behalf of victims in the complaint and investigation processes.
The Response Centre forms an important part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to this recommendation and remains committed to providing and assisting in the coordination of support. Its ability to monitor victim support is in development as it is only in the initial stages of operations. In the interim, the Response Centre is advising and assisting Canadian Armed Forces’ members on a routine basis and it will develop a means to maintain contact, receive feedback and monitor the effectiveness of its victim support programs and services.
Sensitivity to and awareness of the need to respond and eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is high, both in the general public and among the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and is predicted to remain so. Eventually, through education to build a culture where positive bystander involvement is automatic and a high degree of peer support exists, the entire Canadian Armed Forces will be able to serve as victim advocates.
The Response Centre strives to encourage members affected by sexual misconduct to come forward and seize the opportunity to be heard, receive the support they need from professional counsellors, and be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves. Its staff assist Canadian Armed Forces members with planning for their immediate safety in the case of a crisis situation, and when appropriate, with understanding the applicable processes to navigate the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces system. The Response Centre also facilitates referrals to existing resources and complaint mechanisms and coordination of ongoing support with internal and external service providers.
The support for victims during the complaint and investigation process is currently being guided by the MP Liaison Officer who is well versed in the complaint, investigation and judicial process.
Different aspects of this recommendation will be further examined as part of defining the Response Centre’s full operational capability. In the interim, a more comprehensive package of information will be compiled to assist Canadian Armed Forces chain of command, National Investigation Service and other key stakeholders in supporting Canadian Armed Forces victims in the complaint and investigation process.
Recommendation 10: Assign to the center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, in coordination with other Canadian Armed Forces subject matter experts, responsibility for the development of the training curriculum, and the primary responsibility for monitoring training on matters related to inappropriate sexual conduct.
The Canadian Defence Academy is the Canadian Armed Forces agency responsible for the development of training curriculum across the organization. A broader approach to the development and delivery of training related to inappropriate sexual conduct across the institutional Professional Development system is currently being reviewed. This system comprises training, education, experience and professional development, and offers training programs, material and delivery covering a number of subjects such as ethics, professionalism, leadership, and military ethos. It must also encompass considerations such as culture, workplace environment, respect, conduct and behaviour that includes, but is not limited to, sexual misconduct.
Over the next two years as the Response Centre reaches full operational capability, the Strategic Response Team will monitor training on matters related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour through the program effectiveness measures process in concert with the Canadian Defence Academy. The Strategic Response Team is completing an extensive training gap analysis and needs assessment across the training and education establishments in the Canadian Armed Forces. Once complete in early 2016, this analysis will form the basis of future training objectives, production of material and changes across the curriculum.
Currently, much of the development and modification of training activity that is taking place across the Canadian Armed Forces is at the individual service level. For example, in advance of central direction, the Royal Canadian Navy is reviewing and updating current training and education material on sexual harassment and misconduct. The Royal Canadian Air Force is designing and delivering sexual harassment training and education for its training establishments and ensuring it is incorporated into course curricula. All Royal Canadian Air Force leadership training or professional development opportunities will include a clear understanding of the definition of sexual harassment and what constitutes inappropriate and appropriate behaviours.
Discussion – Confronting Sexual Misconduct
The first step in the Canadian Armed Forces strategy to confront harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour is to understand the problem – not only in order to explain it, but to be able to tackle it head on. Understanding is therefore the first component of the strategy, and there have been significant activities undertaken and several planned to enhance the institution’s understanding of this problem. The initiatives described below have or will contribute to this understanding.
The Action Plan and the ongoing response has been strongly influenced by some excellent information and assistance obtained from a series of domestic and international visits carried out by members of the Strategic Response Team between April and September 2015. These visits were designed to capture lessons learned and best practices of other military and civilian organizations that have dealt with harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. The Strategic Response Team Command Team was hosted by several of our military allies: the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) in the United States, the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SeMPRO) in Australia, the Cellule THEMIS in France, as well as the appropriate military authorities in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. In addition, British and German departments of defence sent information on their initiatives related to dealing with sexual misconduct and gender integration. Visits were also carried out to Canadian municipal police forces (Peel Regional Police, Vancouver Police Department, Ottawa Police Services and Calgary Police Services), crisis response centres and other victim support institutions. Several conferences and seminars were also attended to learn more about sexual misconduct and gender mainstreaming. In all cases, much useful information was gathered that will support the Canadian Armed Forces efforts to move forward in dealing with harmful and inappropriate behaviour and contacts made that will support the Canadian Armed Forces Strategic Response Team – on Sexual Misconduct and the Response Centre well into the future.
A pillar to better understanding a problem is to acknowledge its presence. After distributing Operation HONOUR, the Chief of the Defence Staff ordered all senior leaders to a one-day session on sexual misconduct and the effect it is having on members, and just as importantly, on the Forces’ ability to operate now and into the future. As alluded to above, comments and direction given at this one-day session left little to be debated, least of which is the presence of inappropriate sexual behaviour and the Canadian Armed Forces’ combined resolve to eliminate it. Phase one of Operation HONOUR (Initiation) had a deadline of 30 September 2015 as leaders at all levels of command conducted Town Halls, briefings, seminars, etc., to ensure that their members had a clear understanding of what constitutes harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, were informed of the support available and understood the mission, intent and orders from the Chief of the Defence Staff through Operation HONOUR. In addition to the interactive sessions with leaders and their teams, commanders and strategic level leaders (L1s) issued their own directives as per the Chief of the Defence Staff direction. On 18 November 2015 the Chief of the Defence Staff followed up his initial orders with a tasking order17 intended to confirm that his original orders had been interpreted and transmitted throughout the Canadian Armed Forces.
Understanding the scope of the problem is important to not only acknowledge the reality of the situation and the Canadian Armed Forces’ resultant response plan to address it, but also in knowing where remedial efforts should be focused. It continues to develop performance measurement tools to first define the scope and nature of the problem then to help map trends and measure the effectiveness of our response, support to victims, culture change, program and policy changes and workplace climate.
The Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis has developed a comprehensive strategic research program proposal and business plan to address the challenges identified in the External Review and is developing new programs plus continuing with existing work in the following areas:
- Inappropriate conduct questions are embedded in the Your Say Survey that is administered to large randomized samples of the Canadian Armed Forces population including Regular and Reserve Force. This survey is intended to continually monitor the pulse of members on a variety of issues and can be useful to analyse trends;
- Continuing administration and analysis of the Canadian Forces Workplace Harassment Surveys administered to various population samples including Regular and Reserve Force personnel, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service members, Non-commissioned member recruit data, and Officer Cadet data collection from Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School;
- The Regular Force Exit Survey, which is administered to members undertaking a voluntary release, collects harassment and discrimination data on a continuing basis, for use by Director Human Rights and Diversity;
- Work is progressing to apply a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) framework to the development of qualitative data collection proposals related to ongoing research in areas of culture, and customs and traditions; and
- Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis will participate in several NATO Research and Technology Organization Teams devoted to research on topical issues such as NATO Exploratory Team on Sexual Violence in the Military, and NATO Human Factors and Medicine Exploratory Team on Military Professionalism, among others.
To fully understand the scope and complexity of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment within the Canadian Armed Forces, a prevalence survey administered by Statistics Canada at Canadian Armed Forces request, has been designed to determine the nature and scope of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. It will be offered to all Regular and Primary Reserve Force members across the organization in April 2016.
As Canada’s national statistical agency, Statistics Canada has the expertise and the infrastructure to conduct and analyze large surveys. This survey will be conducted under the Statistics Act, which ensures that any information provided to Statistics Canada will be kept confidential. A pre-testing validation survey was conducted in the November-December timeframe at four bases/wings with military volunteers capturing each environment and the reserve perspective.
Building the Foundation for Measuring Effectiveness: Approach to Understanding Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces
The Strategic Response Team has initiated the development of an inclusive program effectiveness measurement approach that will assess the efficacy of the efforts the Canadian Armed Forces are undertaking to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. Qualitative and quantitative performance measure indicators are being developed and will be refined over the coming months, equipping the Canadian Armed Forces with validated data to measure and demonstrate progress. However, the overriding performance measure will be the successful creation of a permanent culture that reflects dignity and respect for everyone at every level.
There are specific values and expected behaviours that include integrity, loyalty, courage, stewardship, and excellence.
At the same time as the Canadian Armed Forces works towards improving the understanding of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, it must continue to respond to incidents promptly, effectively and fairly. A major element of this is the Chief of the Defence Staff’s highly visible internal and external posture on this issue and the resultant focus on the institution’s expectations towards all its members.
The second line of effort in the strategy, to enhance reporting and improve the overall response to incidents of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour has been initiated with key stakeholders in the command, investigative, support, legal and administrative processes. Early experience indicates that personal contact with the same individual within the Response Centre and/or National Investigation Service has proven crucial to establishing a rapport and trust with a caller and it may take several conversations before a decision is made to report.
As of 31 December, 2015, the Military Police Liaison Officer to the Response Centre received a total of 36 calls (23 facilitated access or transfers from the Response Centre and 13 calls from Canadian Armed Forces members who contacted him directly). These callers requested harassment or investigative process information or wanted to speak about the judicial process but were not necessarily ready to come forward to report an offence. Of those 36 calls, 6 resulted in investigations by the National Investigation Service.
To improve the Provost Marshal response capability, the CFPM has directed that all sexual assaults reported to the Military Police be investigated by the National Investigation Service, and directed the National Investigation Service to establish a dedicated team of investigators within each regional office to investigate allegations of sexually motivated crimes. The creation of this team will begin over the coming months as personnel are reassigned and new positions are created.
The Provost Marshal continues to review Military Police and National Investigation Service training standards in relation to how the Military Police interact with and support victims of sexual offences from the point of first response to the conclusion of the court process. Through town hall briefings and Military Police leadership meetings, the Provost Marshal has reinforced the need for Military Police to place the needs of a victim as a top priority and to ensure that first responders focus on the welfare of victims. Within the National Investigation Service, initial joint training has been conducted with the US Army Criminal Investigations Division on interviewing victims with a view to incorporating trauma informed interviewing techniques into Military Police training standards in the future. The Provost Marshal has also tasked the staff at the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy to review current Military Police training courses to ensure that they include training addressing such topics as a victim-led approach to policing, responding to sexual assaults for frontline Military Police and interviewing victims of trauma. In the interim, the National Investigation Service has continued to send investigators on the civilian police Sexual Assault Investigators course, with ten investigators receiving this training to date in 2015. The National Investigation Service currently has 63% of their investigators qualified as sexual assault investigators to civilian police standards.
Organizational culture is a complex system of shared assumptions, values and beliefs which govern how members behave and the acceptable norms within an organization. To change organizational culture is not easy and involves a sustained approach that tackles many complex and overlapping aspects of that system – leadership, professionalism, training, education, policy, communications and values.
“Culture is not a thing to be changed but a dynamic system that is constantly changing due to internal and external influences. Culture change will happen whether planned or unplanned.”
Dr. Allan English
Culture change must be supported by a clear focus on the principles enunciated in the Profession of Arms and Departmental and Canadian Armed Forces programs on ethics, professionalism, and leadership. Step one in initiating a change of culture across the institution was clear and definitive direction from the Chief of the Defence Staff through Operation HONOUR followed to all commanders to issue subsequent orders and to enforce his messages across all levels of the Canadian Armed Forces. This has set the stage for further reinforcement of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Members are required to apply the highest ethical standard in all decisions and actions. There are specific values and expected behaviours that include integrity, loyalty, courage, stewardship, and excellence.
Dr. English acknowledges that “Culture has been referred to as “the bedrock of military effectiveness,” and we know that the ability of armed forces to innovate is as much a function of their culture as anything else.”18 It is generally agreed that five steps are essential for culture change: articulate new values; facilitate behavioural change; have leaders model new behaviours and values; reward desired behaviour and values; and institute complementary human resources policies (e.g., recruiting, selection, and termination).19
There have been recent culture change efforts underway in the Canadian Armed Forces that will contribute to the work to address not only the perceived overly sexualized culture but also the culture of mistrust and lack of faith in the system expressed by victims. Some activities designed to influence culture change were underway prior to Operation HONOUR. For example, in 2014 the Royal Canadian Navy embarked on a mission to address the broader issue of misconduct through a Conduct Renewal Initiative. While this initiative continues, it is now aligned with Operation HONOUR to effect long-term culture change.
“As proud members of the Canadian Armed Forces, we are all driven by a deep commitment to serve in the defence of Canada against increasingly diverse and complex threats from around the world and even within our own country. It is absolutely unacceptable that any of you should have to defend yourselves against other Canadian Armed Forces members.
Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West, CFCWO
The Chief of the Defence Staff made it very clear in his orders that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and leaders were to be held accountable. Decisive action demonstrates this direction and there have been Commanding Officers and leaders relieved of their positions upon notice of inappropriate behaviour.
The Canadian Armed Forces will improve its culture of dignity and respect for everyone ensuring that the highest professional standards are maintained. This is not only a moral imperative, it is also an operational one, for the Canadian Armed Forces’ continued success in operations across Canada and around the world depends on the unwavering trust and cohesion amongst all our members, regardless of gender, ethnicity, orientation or background.
The Canadian Armed Forces is actively engaged in influencing culture change and will continue to do so, while not underestimating the challenge. Ultimately, effective and lasting change to organisational culture will result from a consistent plan and a leadership that models the behaviour desired – all supported by an effective education and training program and a return to the principles of the Profession of Arms and duty with honour.
As Canadian society becomes more diverse and complex in terms of cultural, ethnic and gender composition, it is imperative that the Canadian Armed Forces not only reflects the multi-faceted Canadian society that it serves, but is recognized as an environment that fosters respect for and inclusion of its members. Recent experience indicates that the Canadian Armed Forces must continue to take deliberate measures to be more representative of Canadian society and ensure that our behaviour, attitudes and culture promote a strong and resilient force. Diversity is not just a matter of gender or race; it is about recognizing and valuing what is unique about its members.
As such, the Commander Military Personnel Command has made diversity a priority for the Command and will develop and implement a Diversity Strategy in 2016 in order to enhance operational effectiveness and ensure a culture of respect and inclusion for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces. This strategy will also address a number of diversity challenges such as recruitment, employment, and retention of all three main diversity groups –Women, Visible Minorities, and Aboriginals. This explicit and comprehensive strategy will promote, direct and safeguard respect for the dignity of all persons as a core value within the institution and be included as a fundamental tenet in all aspects of the profession of arms.
Gender Based Analysis20
In 1999, Canada adopted the United Nations Platform for Action and the 1995 Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and Development, both of which call for the implementation of gender-based analysis. Since that time, the Government of Canada has directed that gender-based analysis plus be incorporated into policies, programs, initiatives and services, including those internal to the departments. Applying gender-based analysis plus ensures that perspectives of all elements of the population are incorporated into such efforts. The lead for the development of guidance and training is Status of Women Canada, which has developed an online training course to introduce the basics to personnel across all government departments. Complementary to findings within the External Review Authority’s report, most Strategic Response Team team members have taken this course with a view to better applying its principles and highlighting their benefit to the development of policies and programs related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. This training has recently been extended across the Military Personnel Command with a view to further expansion across the Canadian Armed Forces in the near future.
As already discussed, diversity and gender mainstreaming are top priorities for the Canadian Armed Forces, with significant initiatives underway, including the integration of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and related UN resolutions into Canadian Armed Forces operations and the institution, as announced publicly by the Chief of the Defence Staff on 28 October 2015 during the Women in Defence and Security event.
The UN Secretary-General, in relation to UNSCR 1325, requested that Member States develop their own national implementation plans, which Canada has pursued in the 2009 National Action Plan. The Canadian Armed Forces integrates the guidance provided from the UNSCRs and the National Action Plan into its operational planning, conduct of missions, and across its institutions.
In January 2016, the Chief of the Defence Staff will provide direction21 to develop the framework to achieve the overarching goal to “mainstream” gender perspectives: that is, to integrate gender perspectives to the degree that it is always considered as an essential and innate element of all Canadian Armed Forces activities. The Canadian Armed Forces will fully integrate the requirements of the CNAP into all operations by 31 Aug 2017, and into the wider institution by 31 Mar 2019, which will include establishing Gender Advisors to the Chief of the Defence Staff and Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command by Summer of 2016, as well as incorporating gender perspectives and gender-based analysis plus into training and education for strategic and operational planning. Concurrently, a framework will be developed to mainstream gender perspectives across Canadian Armed Forces institutions.
The Canadian Armed Forces has conducted site visits, staff checks, meetings and interviews to review our current suite of training, education and professional development program and resources and have done an initial assessment of requirements. Its initial review indicates the need to take action to refresh training content across the institution with a view to including more specific information on diversity, sexual misconduct, harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, resiliency, bystander involvement and update material on harassment, leadership, professionalism and ethics.
Three other themes are emerging as requirements for new or enhanced training, education and professional development:
- Enabling bystanders;
- Developing leadership tools to include how to deal with and respond to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and supporting victims; and
- Enhancing capabilities and tools for unit advisors to assist leaders in dealing with harassment, ethics, etc., as these pertain to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
A wide range of commercial and private training and education programs exist to address bullying, discrimination, harassment, and abuse respect in the workplace. Many of these specifically target respect in the workplace and provide strategies and information to create relational empowerment at every level of an organization through discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse prevention training. Prior to embarking on internal curricula and program design, the Canadian Armed Forces is reviewing existing military and civilian resources that could be implemented or tailored for our use. In the visits with our Allies, there were valuable exchanges of information that helped shape our work to date and contacts made with subject matter experts and service providers. We continue to stay engaged with subject matter experts and the initial meetings have resulted in several invitations for us to attend courses, conferences and visit institutions. These opportunities will be pursued in the months ahead as we complete the evaluation of our existing programs and shift our focus from the immediate to the longer term.
The existence of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces threatens the essential principles on which Canadian military culture stands. Such behaviour will not be tolerated – all levels of leadership and every man and woman serving in the Canadian Armed Forces will be held accountable for upholding and embodying the military ethos and adhering to the highest standards of behaviour that the profession demands.
The way ahead will be challenging and the level of effort required is significant. Nevertheless, a Canadian Armed Forces that upholds an enduring culture of dignity and respect with the highest standards of conduct justifies such an investment. A number of major initiatives will be tackled in the coming months providing the foundation on which more significant change will be effected.
Victim support will continue to be paramount and we will enhance awareness of the Response Centre through a comprehensive internal and external engagement strategy. Moreover, service provision will be refined, as will capture of information/data in order to better track issues, trends, data and case management.
In the immediate term, the priority of effort will be on modernizing definitions and policy, establishing a unified, simple coherent policy on sexual misconduct and resolution with clear and consistent definitions of sexual misconduct, consent, and harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour to be utilized across the institution.
Implementation of the governance model with a Steering Committee providing oversight and direction to the Response Centre and Strategic Response Team and the establishment of an independent Advisory Council will commence in January 2016. This will help to guide the work of both the Response Centre and Strategic Response Team. The governance, methodology and composition of a Steering Committee providing oversight and direction to the Response Centre and Strategic Response Team will soon be determined. Reporting, measuring and assessment are tied closely to reporting of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and our ongoing efforts to effect culture, confidence and accountability. In the upcoming months, the Canadian Armed Forces will increase its awareness, education and engagement plan internally and externally to encourage reporting; reinforce, recognize and reward desired behaviour and take disciplinary and/or administrative action for undesired behaviour. A key component of this effort will be the Stats Canada Canadian Armed Forces-wide survey to be offered to all serving Regular Force and Primary Reserve Force members in April 2016.
The Canadian Armed Forces is making good progress in executing the Operation HONOUR mission, notwithstanding the daunting nature of institutional culture change on a subject as complex as harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. We have concluded Phase One and are institutionalizing the Chief of the Defence Staff’s direction on the issue through the engagement by all commanders. Well into Phase Two, the focus is on continued education and awareness, supported by diligent chain of command communication and application of orders and policies specific to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. This includes the development of new policies and processes to ensure the successful application and adherence of the necessary culture and identification of obstacles and changes required to achieve culture change.
Members are engaged in contributing to this process, directly through participation in the unprecedented number of Town Halls, focus groups, leadership engagements and both formal and informal discussions conducted throughout the Canadian Armed Forces. As a result, sensitivity to, and awareness of, Operation HONOUR and its importance are high and is anticipated to remain so. The Canadian Armed Forces is now generally more attuned to the problem of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour than ever in its contemporary history – a key precursor to sustained organizational culture change. Although still early in the process, awareness and engagement levels are expected to increase and to be sustained.
Of particular significance is improved support to victims. This has been achieved in very short order through the opening of the Response Centre in September 2015, providing members with confidential assistance and advice. The longer term range of Response Centre capabilities and services is being analyzed, and will be driven by the needs of Canadian Armed Forces members. Victim support has also been augmented through the clear direction provided by the Chief of the Defence Staff and subordinate commanders on this problem, and conveyed throughout the chain of command to every level of the organization. The level of attentiveness is markedly higher across the Canadian Armed Forces.
While much of the work of the Strategic Response Team is still in the early stages of information gathering, documentation, analysis, and planning, the next phase will see this groundwork pay dividends as the Canadian Armed Forces begins to develop new programs, move out on policy development or refinement and implementation of performance measurement tools.
A key initiative of understanding the scope of the problem and areas of concern will be expanded internal research and the Canadian Armed Forces-wide survey with Stats Canada, to be conducted in April 2016, providing a comprehensive baseline on the prevalence of the sexualized culture and misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. This vital information will support policy revision and training development, as well as help define the performance measurement framework. Recurring, systemic performance measurement will be critical to the success of Operation HONOUR, providing senior leaders the means to monitor and assess progress and make decisions and adjust strategy accordingly.
Information is important – however, the overriding performance measure will be the successful creation of a permanent Canadian Armed Forces culture that reflects dignity and respect for everyone. This will be based in significant part on timely responsiveness coupled with the moral courage to do right by those who have been harmed. Ultimately, Canadian Armed Forces members will decide whether the organization’s culture has truly changed, and they will do so as a direct reflection of the positive, sustainable change implemented at the grassroots levels within their professional environments. This will be a long process, reinforced by the commitments and actions of leaders at all levels of the institution. There are several significant challenges and obstacles remaining and much work still to be completed before the Canadian Armed Forces can declare success in addressing sexual misconduct amongst its ranks. The Chief of the Defence Staff’s intent is clear, and changes in behaviour are starting to be seen across the organization, but the longer-term cultural shift will take a number of years.
1 This commitment was first made during the media briefing on 30 April 2015, and repeated to the Standing Committee on National Defence in May: “… Starting this fall, I will deliver to the Chief of Defence Staff my first quarterly report on the Canadian Armed Forces’ progress in responding to the problem of inappropriate sexual behaviour. The report will also be released to the public.” MGen Christine Whitecross speaking to the Standing Committee on National Defence, NDDN Number 60, 2nd Session, 41st Parliament. Monday, May 25, 2015. P. 3
2 Understanding that “victim” is a sensitive term for some who prefer “survivor”, “victim” is used in this report in the broadest sense to include those making initial complaints through to survivors of verified sexual assaults.
3 Extracted from a briefing presented by Dr. Allan English, a recognised subject matter expert on Canadian military culture in the Canadian Armed Forces, to the Canadian Institute Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) in Quebec City, 23 – 25 November, 2015: Addressing the Problem of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Canadian Armed Forces: Systemic Obstacles to Comprehensive Culture Change.
4 Current coverage was spurred by L’actualité magazine’s 22 Apr 14 cover feature entitled “Crimes Sexuels Dans L’Armée”.
5 This characterization was derived from an analysis of media coverage of the Chief of the Defence Staff change of command held 24 July, 2015.
6 Chief of the Defence Staff Op Order Operation HONOUR, dated 14 Aug 2015.
7 The senior leadership included Canadian Armed Forces General Officers and Flag Officers as well as those Colonels in key command appointments, and their Chief Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers First Class.
8 This is partial fulfillment of recommendation 3 of the External Review Authority report, “Create an independent center for accountability for sexual assault and harassment outside of the Canadian Armed Forces with the responsibility for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct, as well as prevention, coordination and monitoring of training, victim support, monitoring of accountability, and research, and to act as a central authority for the collection of data.”
9 External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces, Marie Deschamps, C.C. Ad.E., External Review Authority, 27 March, 2015, p. 1.
10 Chief of the Defence Staff Tasking Order – Operation Honour Initiation Phase Review dated 18 November 2015.
11 Level 1 organizations are led by individuals who report directly to either the Chief of the Defence Staff or the Deputy Minister.
12 Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is the headquarters responsible for the conduct of domestic and expeditionary operations for the Canadian Armed Forces. The Strategic Joint Staff (SJS) provides military analysis and decision support to the Chief of the Defence Staff who is the principal military advisor to the Government of Canada.
13 Standing Committee on National Defence, NDDN Number 60, 2nd Session, 41st Parliament, Monday, May 25, 2015.
14 The plan was to open with an initial level of service to ensure more immediate support to victims, with the intent to develop more comprehensive services between September 2015 and July 2017.
15 Pursuant to Queens Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces Articles 4.02 and 5.0, CAF members are obliged to report to the proper authority any infringement of the pertinent statutes, regulations, rules, orders and instructions governing the conduct of any person subject to the Code of Service Discipline.
16 Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) are the principal method of distributing Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence corporate and administrative direction. Those related to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour include: Defence Ethics (DAOD 7023-0); Harassment Prevention and Resolution (DAOD 5012-0); Sexual Misconduct (DAOD 5019-5); Personal Relationships and Fraternization (DAOD 5019-1); Discriminatory Conduct (formerly Racist Conduct) in progress; and Military Family Violence (DAOD 5044-0).
17 Chief of the Defence Staff Tasking Order, Operation HONOUR Initiation Phase review, dated 18 November 2015.
18 Op Cit. English, Enabling Innovation … page 2.
19 Op Cit. English, Enabling Innovation … page 3.
20 Gender based analysis (GBA) “Plus” (GBA+) is an analytical process for examining a policy, program or initiative for its varying impacts on diverse groups of women and men.
21 Chief of the Defence Staff Directive on implementation of UNSCRs 1325 and 2442.
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