CDS/DM Initiating Directive for Professional Conduct and Culture

April 30, 2021 - Defence Stories

Message from the Minister and Acting Chief of the Defence Staff

We are writing to provide you with more detail on our efforts to address the deeply troubling challenge of systemic misconduct within National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

We invite you to read this CDS/DM Initiating Directive for Professional Conduct and Culture that outlines this step in full.

The Initiating Directive is the internal planning guidance and expresses our formal intent to recognize that we are on a new path to ensuring we respect the dignity of all persons, at all times and under all circumstances.

As was announced yesterday, we are creating a Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture at the L1 level. The new L1 will be the functional authority for all elements related to conduct and culture across both DND and the CAF. LGen Jennie Carignan will be the inaugural three star to lead this new L1.

This is only the first step on the road ahead of us and it is work we can start now to address conduct and culture while decisions regarding an external review and an independent reporting mechanism are finalized. The creation of the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture is but one element of a multi-pronged approach which will require critical internal realignment, and certainly not a complete solution in itself. This will take a sustained effort from all of us.

This fundamental structural shift will eliminate confusion, silos and disconnected duplication of well-meaning efforts currently underway within our organization, and is necessary before we reasonably expect to build meaningful and enduring change. Going forward, it is essential that Defence Team members who face systemic misconduct know how to recognize it, where to report it, are clear on the steps to be taken, and are respected throughout the process.

While signed by both of us, this document represents the voices, expertise and perspectives of a true diversity of groups and individuals from across our Defence Team. It is extensive in scope and forward-thinking in approach. It frames the depth and breadth of our problem and establishes how we will move forward as a Defence Team now that Operation HONOUR has culminated.

Finally, it enshrines the concept that we need to keep listening and learning.

The sexual misconduct, harassment, misogyny, racism, and discrimination that occur across our organization are rooted in an institutional culture that has allowed those behaviours to persist and prevented our culture from evolving apace with the rest of society. We know this. We share your anger in this. The profoundly damaging elements of our culture will not change on their own, and they will not change organically over time. We will have to change them. We are going to change them.

With the release of today’s directive, we believe we are taking the necessary first step towards rebuilding an institution of which we, and all Canadians, can be proud.

We reaffirm our commitment to work for a culture and governance that better embody our shared professional values and ethos; one that embraces the diversity and values of Canada, ensures a dignified, equitable, respectful, and inclusive institution, and supports our continued operational excellence.


Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister of National Defence

Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre
Acting Chief of the Defence Staff

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