DND/CAF Sexual Misconduct Apology – Minister of National Defence’s Apology


December 13, 2021

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General Introduction

I am speaking to you from the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people. I recognize that this land has long been a place of meeting and gathering for Indigenous people, and we join you in a spirit of respect and reconciliation.

The members of our Canadian Armed Forces have always put service before self by stepping up to serve Canada.

You come from all backgrounds, faiths, and ethnicities, and you have a diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations.

Whether protecting Canadians at home or abroad, you have done everything your country has asked of you.

Over the past few years, all Canadians have been reminded how crucial your work is here at home. You have saved lives in long-term care homes, delivered vaccines across the country, helped people facing forest fires and floods, and rescued those isolated by natural disasters.

You have always had Canadians' backs. And we should always have yours.

Far too many members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans, current and former employees of the Department of National Defence, and Staff of the Non-Public Funds have suffered sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation

This misconduct and abuse of power led to a crisis of broken trust in the Defence Team.


Today, as Minister of National Defence, I am apologizing to you on behalf of the Government of Canada.

We must acknowledge the pain and trauma that so many have endured because the very institution charged with protecting and defending our country has not always protected and defended its own members.

I apologize on behalf of the Government of Canada, and on behalf of those elected officials who throughout the history of the Canadian Armed Forces had the responsibility to protect you and who failed to do so.

I apologize to the thousands of Canadians who were harmed because your government did not protect you, nor did we ensure that the right systems were in place to ensure justice and accountability.

For far too long, your government failed to dedicate enough time, money, personnel, and effort to deal with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in the military and the department.

Countless lives have been harmed because of inaction and systemic failure.

This is a failure that our Canadian Armed Forces, our department, and the Government of Canada, will always carry with us.

These institutions failed you, and for that, we are sorry. I am sorry.

Who are we apologizing to, and what for?

I apologize to everyone affected – current and former National Defence, and employees, Canadian Armed Forces members, including veterans who suffered during their service and after their service, Staff of the Non-Public funds, and members of the class action settlements, and your families.

Over many decades – the Government of Canada did not keep its most basic promise to you – you who do the utmost to serve our country.

I acknowledge that successive governments have not done nearly enough to stamp out this scourge.

To all the Canadians who signed up to serve our country, full of hope, zeal, and spirit;

To those who always dreamed of putting on a uniform;

And who answered the call of service, only to find their own calls for help ignored; their calls for justice and dignity disregarded, and their faith in our institution betrayed;

We are sorry. I am sorry.

Pledge for the Future

Today, we pledge this: Things can change, they must change, and they will change.

It is our most basic responsibility, our most important task, and my top, and absolute, priority.

Change is underway. At all levels, people are working hard to create a more positive work environment that eliminates harmful and regressive aspects of our institutional culture.

I have seen the dedication of incredible leaders on our team working to build trust, credibility, and moral authority.

As Minister, I am deeply committed to leading meaningful progress, and I know that up and down the ranks of our institution, there are people stepping up to lead deep and transformational culture change.

Together, we are working to create an institutional culture that enables every member of our team to reach their full potential in an environment where they feel safe, protected, and respected.


I want to make this very clear:

The Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence form a crucial part of our nation’s fabric, and it is a great honour to serve you as Minister of National Defence.

To the people who make up our Canadian Armed Forces and our department: We need you. Canada needs you. And I will work hard every single day to earn your trust.

Thank you. Migwech. Merci.

I now invite Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, to offer his remarks.

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