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Bill Blair releases second status report of the External Monitor

The report provides an update on the progress made at the Department of Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to implement the recommendations made by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour in the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR), released in May 2022.

In the report, Madame Therrien provides her independent and external observations regarding the implementation status of all 48 of Madame Arbour’s recommendations. These observations are based on Madame Therrien’s direct discussions with DND/CAF officials, and review of relevant documents, policies, and processes.

Madame Therrien states that “all IECR recommendations have been actioned to some extent.” She further notes that “Some of the IECR recommendations have been completed. Others are in progress and at various stages of implementation. And still others constitute continuous improvement.” She provides a status assessment for each recommendation, including successes, challenges, and next steps to be taken by DND/CAF.

The External Monitor also notes that, unlike with previous reviews, the “’closure’ of recommendations is being done with more accountability,” and that the Canadian Armed Forces has “stipulated in its implementation plan that it will focus on outcomes rather than activities in measuring its performance.” DND/CAF are committed to this more fulsome and more transparent approach in deeming recommendations to have been implemented.

The report also notes that the organization has now developed a multi-year implementation plan, as suggested by the External Monitor in her first biannual report released in May 2023. DND/CAF is currently finalizing this plan and intends to publish more information shortly.

The External Monitor provides an invaluable, independent, and impartial perspective on the institution’s efforts to implement external recommendations, ensuring that DND/CAF is delivering on its commitments, and taking actions that truly reflect the intent of the recommendations. The External Monitor’s term was renewed on October 19, 2023 for an additional year.

In a statement, Minister Blair welcomed this independent and external oversight, and emphasized it is essential to ensuring ongoing action, transparency, and accountability on culture change.

 

Quotes

“As we take meaningful steps to change the culture of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, external oversight is essential. In accordance with Madame Arbour’s recommendation, the External Monitor, Jocelyne Therrien, continues to provide an independent and impartial assessments of our progress – and input on where more work is required. We cannot fail in our mission to build a more inclusive military culture – and I am convinced that we are making tangible progress.”

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“Mme Therrien’s oversight and input are critical to the work we are doing in building a more inclusive workplace. We remain committed to being open and accountable on our efforts to implement external recommendations, and this second report highlights the important work underway, as well as next steps we need to take to fully address the spirit of the IECR recommendations.”

Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of National Defence

“Just as we in the CAF leadership expect extraordinary contributions from all our members, in return, our members expect and deserve the best work environment we can provide.  We all want to be treated with dignity and respect and this is a key component of our efforts to bring lasting culture change to our organization. Our success or failure as a cohesive force affects our credibility as an institution, and our operational effectiveness. We must continue to show that we embody the best of our society, and that we live the values that we espouse.”

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

“As I continue to meet with Defence Team members, and stakeholders, I am incredibly encouraged by the building momentum of our culture evolution efforts. The members I have heard from appreciate what we are doing to make meaningful changes, including the implementation of the IECR report. Changing mindsets and introducing new processes takes time and while there is much more to do I believe there is a sense of hope across the institution that we are building a safer and more respectful environment for all our members.”

Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture

Quick Facts

• Madame Jocelyne Therrien was appointed as External Monitor in October 2022 for an initial term of one year, fulfilling recommendation 48 of the IECR report.

• Per the External Monitor Terms of Reference, Mme Therrien’s role is to provide advice to the Minister on the oversight and implementation of the recommendations in Madame Arbour’s IECR report, while considering those of other external reviews.

• The report released today builds on the first status report of the External Monitor, which was released on May 17, 2023.

• The IECR (led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour) was launched in April 2021 to shed the light on the causes of harassment and sexual misconduct in the CAF, by reviewing policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture within the CAF and DND.

• Madame Arbour’s final IECR report was made public on May 30, 2022.

• In December 2022, Minster of National Defence presented a Report to Parliament, outlining the steps that the Government of Canada would take to respond to all 48 IECR recommendations. DND/CAF continues to work on meaningful reform and culture change in response to the recommendations.

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