One Year after the Independent External Comprehensive Review of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

May 30, 2023 - Defence Stories



Today marks one year since the release of the Final Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR), led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour. This Review was established to inform our efforts to build a more inclusive institution where all members feel protected, respected, and empowered to serve. In response to Madame Arbour’s 48 recommendations, we are taking meaningful action to build a healthy and respectful workplace, free of harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct.

The IECR was informed by hundreds of your submissions and interviews, feedback from stakeholders, experts, other government entities, and more. Your experiences have helped inform our way forward, and we are grateful for your contributions.

Over the past year, we have made steady progress and demonstrated that meaningful change is possible.

The Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture organization is now the functional authority for sexual misconduct prevention training, and the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC) was renamed to better reflect its mandate. The SMSRC has expanded its reach and services to better serve the wider Defence community, and we recently launched the first phase of the SMSRC’s Independent Legal Assistance program to provide access to legal assistance for people who have experienced sexual misconduct.

External expert members of the Canadian Military College Review Board will be announced shortly and begin their work in the coming months. Concurrently, we have expanded the focus of exit interviews at Canadian Military Colleges to include cadets’ experiences with sexual misconduct or discrimination.

We have implemented new screening measures during the pre- and post-recruitment phases, including refined interview questions, and the use of enrollment release processes.

In response to an interim recommendation, the Director of Military Prosecutions is no longer accepting charges of Criminal Code sexual offences for prosecution in military courts. As of late 2021, all new Criminal Code sexual offence charges are being laid in the civilian justice system. Courts martial continue to hear cases involving Criminal Code sexual offence charges which were laid in the military justice system prior to November 2021. Military Police, under the direction of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, also continue to work with civilian police partners across the country to transfer cases for investigation, and to support those who have experienced sexual misconduct in the military.

At the same time, we continue to work closely with provincial and territorial governments to consider and chart the way forward for the more complex IECR final recommendation 5 which calls for the permanent removal of CAF jurisdiction for the investigation and prosecution of criminal sexual offences. 

As we deliver meaningful change together, we are committed to the highest standards of openness, transparency, and accountability to Canadians. That is why we appointed the External Monitor, Jocelyne Therrien, whose first biannual report was recently released. The report remarked positively on our progress, and provided us with areas for improvement, which we welcome.

Together, we are making progress. We must and will continue our work to prevent and eradicate sexual misconduct, discrimination, and unacceptable behaviours across the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Long-lasting institutional change takes time, but we know that you are committed to this endeavour. During our town halls with you across Canada and around the globe, we have seen your belief in this mission.

Failure is not an option, and we must continue to make progress every day.

We thank you, Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members, for your hard work and dedication. We will continue to work together to build the best possible workplace, so that our vital institution can continue to deliver results for Canadians.



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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