Setting the stage for change: A message from Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture, Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, and Chief Warrant Officer Bob McCann

June 22, 2021 - Defence Stories


Regardless of who we are or where we work in the Defence Team, we have all been witness to the troubling news that has shaken our organization over the past months. As leaders, parents, daughters and brothers, and spouses, we continue to be deeply troubled by the shocking testimonies of survivors of sexual assault and victims of misconduct within our organization.

Quite frankly, these testimonies break our hearts.

In April, we were both honoured and humbled to be entrusted with leading a new organization that will combat all forms of systemic misconduct. The Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) was established to align our culture and professional conduct with the fundamental values we strive to uphold. Our goal is to strengthen professionalism across Defence to create the healthy, safe, and inclusive organizational culture that you not only expect, but that you deserve.

There needs to be a reconciliation between the values we ascribe to as an organization and how we live those values. With this in mind, the conditions are now being set to create a future in which all of us can contribute to the role entrusted to us in an inclusive, respectful, and physically/psychologically safe environment, regardless of our individuality. We are so much stronger when we all work toward a common purpose, harnessing our collective talent.

We also recognize that we have a great deal of which we can be proud. Our service is deeply valued and recognized amongst Canadians and the international community. As a Defence Team, we are doing tremendous good at home and abroad to serve our communities, our country, and to support our Allies and partners. However, the time has come for us to work on and take better care of ourselves, as an organization.

Acknowledging and recognizing that we have a problem is a major step towards healing, reconciliation, and growth. Let’s no longer be afraid of bluntly shining a light on the problems that harm our members, weaken our mission, and undermine our efforts as a Defence Team:

Every individual deserves respect, dignity, and recognition for who they are. Every person has a place in the Defence Team, regardless of gender, sexual or gender identity, race, or religious beliefs. Outdated and unacceptable actions or beliefs that marginalize anyone in our organization do not belong.

Where do we go from here?

It will take courage, rigour, and perseverance by all of us to address the challenges before us. But make no mistake, although leadership is responsible to set up the culture change for success, this endeavour cannot occur without active participation from ALL of us, regardless of our rank, status, element, organization, and individuality.

It is our duty and responsibility as human beings to combat racism, discrimination, sexualized culture, and toxicity in our work places. While Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture will work with all Defence Team members to address institutional and systemic factors that allow misconduct of all varieties to take place, we encourage each and every one of us to act now, starting with self-reflection on our individual behaviours - including our own unconscious biases - that may allow for hateful conduct and sexual misconduct to occur. Use your voice when you witness wrongdoings.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

In the short term, we will focus our efforts towards setting up Defence-wide consultations and creating clear expectations of inclusive leaders at all levels. We will concentrate on the restorative services to provide opportunities for individuals, teams, and the institution to collaborate to repair harm, promote accountability, and encourage the voluntary and active participation of all concerned parties, including support persons. We will review the complaint system to identify solutions to make it more efficient and adapted to victim’s needs, while ensuring due process for all.  We will take informed risks and this likely means we will get some things wrong. We will count on you to tell us when this happens so that we can take corrective action. This is too important for us to get it wrong.

Support that’s available to you

While our team embarks on the initial steps of our mission to lead a fundamental transformation in the way systemic misconduct is understood and addressed across DND/CAF, we want to remind you of the existing resources and mechanisms that are in place to file a complaint or report an incident. The most appropriate mechanism to use depends on your situation and the type of misconduct you experienced or witnessed. We invite you to familiarize yourself with the Workplace conflict, misconduct, and harassment resolution web page that provides all the necessary information.

The cultural struggles we face as an organization, on top of the challenges that we’ve all endured over the last year due to COVID-19, have undoubtedly taken a toll on our mental health and personal well-being. Remember: you are not alone and confidential support services are available if you need them.

Together, we will come out of this process better and stronger. We will collectively seize this opportunity to improve our culture and how we relate to one another. Leadership will correct our deficiencies which will, in turn, allow us to build on our strengths. We believe in the Defence Team. We believe in you.


Lieutenant-General M.A.J. Carignan,

Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture
Canadian Armed Forces


Chief Warrant Officer Bob McCann,

Group Chief Warrant Officer,
Professional Conduct and Culture
Canadian Armed Forces

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