Canadian Armed Forces Second Progress Report Addressing Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour - Introduction


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This is the second report detailing the progress of the Canadian Armed Forces in eliminating the problem of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. It follows the publication of the initial progress report, released to internal and external stakeholders on February 1st, 2016, consistent with the six-month reporting timeframe to which the Canadian Armed Forces has committed.

The intent of this progress report, and indeed that of subsequent reports, is to update interested audiences on the progress the institution has achieved in rooting out this insidious problem.

The first progress report covering from July to December 2015 mapped out the Canadian Armed Forces’ headway in implementing both Operation HONOUR objectives and the External Review Authority’s recommendations over the first phase of the effort. It explained how early progress was being achieved, while underscoring that much more remained to be done.

This second progress report describes how Operation HONOUR is developing, and outlines the achievements to date, as well as the challenges that remain. It focuses on two levels: (i) the initiatives and activities at the strategic level setting the conditions for organisation-wide culture change, and (ii) the programming occurring at subordinate levels reinforcing awareness and catalyzing sustained behavioural and attitudinal change. This reflects Operation HONOUR’s multi-faceted approach across the organisation. Rather than it being simply a top-down institutional response, national leadership direction is translated into tailored programming, training, and policies by subordinate commanders at their levels.

This report closes out the first year of Operation HONOUR implementation. As stated at the outset of the operation, the priority over this first year was twofold. The first and over-arching imperative was improving support to victims. Incidents of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour and sexual offences are still occurring in the Canadian Armed Forces, making it critical that victims have the care, support and response options they need. Accordingly, new victim support options have been put in place, and existing mechanisms have been strengthened. This direct support to victims has been reinforced by highly active engagement by the Chain of Command and leadership at all levels on this issue, which has resulted in a level of markedly increased awareness by all members of the institutional expectations regarding their behaviours.

The second focus of year one of implementation has been on gaining a much more complete understanding of the precise nature of the problem, in order to develop a model for a deliberate, long-term, sustainable change of culture. This will layer attitudinal change upon the behavioural change prompted by enhanced awareness and vigilance. Extensive research has been executed or developed over this first year, integrating both internal and external expertise. Partnerships have also been formed or improved, enabling a level of insight that the Canadian Armed Forces has not previously possessed. As this research is conducted, it will provide an unprecedentedly clearer understanding of the problem, which will in turn form the foundation for a substantive change in culture designed to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the Canadian Armed Forces.

This approach is consistent with the four major pillars of Operation HONOUR – understanding the issue of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, responding more decisively to incidents, supporting victims more effectively, and preventing the occurrence of such behaviours in the first place.

The focus of the second year of Operation HONOUR will be on moving beyond process and analysis into the development and implementation of policies, programs, and performance measurement necessary to catalyse the required culture change.

The Canadian Armed Forces is still only beginning to implement the change identified in Operation HONOUR, which though now well underway, will take years to instil and consolidate. Most of the initiatives generating this change are in their early stages. So too is the organisation’s ability to measure the outcomes that are beginning to emerge. However, change is occurring across the organisation and individual members are being influenced.

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