Message to the Defence Team on the release of the final report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review

June 2, 2022 - Defence Stories

Message from the Minister of National Defence, Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff


As you know, on Monday we joined former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Louise Arbour, for the public release of the final report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR) of the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

If you have not done so already, we encourage you to take the time to read the report, not just for the recommendations it makes, but for the important context it provides. Madame Arbour’s team conducted this work across several lines of effort, including speaking directly with current and former affected Defence Team members, reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting confidential interviews with stakeholders and other government entities.

We appreciate that for many of us in the Defence Team, it is not a comfortable document to read. But we wholeheartedly believe that the intent of this report is to make us better as an institution, and we ask you to receive it in that light.

For our part, we welcome and agree with the 48 thoughtful recommendations.

We are moving forward expeditiously with 17 of the recommendations, and we will move forward with the remainder—those that are extremely complex and involve systemic change, once we have a plan for their implementation. The plan will be based on an analysis of how they can be implemented. And if not, why not. We have already tasked the department to create a work plan to that effect.

We have accepted Madame Arbour’s recommendation to appoint an External Monitor as quickly as possible. This Monitor will oversee the implementation of recommendations, and produce regular reports.

Also involved in these efforts will be the newly formed External Comprehensive Reviews Implementation Committee (ECRIC). This group’s role is to oversee the coordination of the complex work that is needed to move us from an individual, stand-alone approach to a thematic and comprehensive plan of action to tackle the more than 500 culture-related recommendations received from a wide variety of sources to date. ECRIC will coordinate and oversee our action plan based on these reports, and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Expect to hear more about the ECRIC and its important work in the near future.

Madame Arbour’s report is comprehensive and addresses a wide array of issues, including, but not limited to, definitions of sexual misconduct, the military justice system, military colleges, promotion and selection processes, power dynamics, and the role of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre. This report shines a light on the root causes of sexual misconduct but it also points to larger, systemic issues that go beyond sexual misconduct and reaffirms the need to evolve our Defence Team culture.

In addition, while the majority of the report focuses on the CAF, we would like to reinforce that the road ahead to change involves all of us. We may have two different sets of policies for some elements of how we work, but we share one culture and it falls on every single one of us – military and civilian – to actively participate in making that culture safe, respectful and welcoming to all Defence Team members. Our goal is a Defence Team in which all our members are free to be their authentic selves and feel valued and able to contribute to the very best of their abilities each and every day. Growth and change are essential, it is the right thing to do for all our people.

The full report will be available in a fully accessible format on by mid-June. NOTE: key excerpts from the report are available in accessible format, along with information on how to request a PDF version.

If we do not take this moment for what it is, and implement the recommendations that identify deep areas of needed change, we run the risk of not being a fully effective Defence Team domestically and internationally.

We would like to thank all those who have so generously come forward to share their lived experiences through a range of other DND/CAF initiatives. Your perspectives are being heard and integrated into the critical work underway. We will continue to build on this momentum, and the desire for change, setting the conditions for positive and lasting cultural growth.

To all Defence Team members doing their part to drive this change in their own teams and in their own commands: you have our sincerest gratitude. We still have much to do, but, thanks to your hard work and commitment—and the guidance and expertise provided by Madame Arbour and others—we know we will succeed in building an institution where everyone feels safe, respected, and protected.


The Honourable Anita Anand

Minister of National Defence

Bill Matthews

Deputy Minister of National Defence 

General Wayne Eyre

Chief of the Defence Staff

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