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Defence Minister Anita Anand Releases First Biannual Status Report of the External Monitor

Defence Minister Anita Anand released the first biannual status report authored by External Monitor, Jocelyne Therrien. The report provides an external overview of work underway at the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) to implement the recommendations made by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour in the Independent External Comprehensive Review (IECR), released in May 2022.

Jocelyne Therrien was appointed as External Monitor by Minister Anand in fall 2022, fulfilling Recommendation 48 of the IECR report. Mme Therrien’s role is to provide advice to the Minister in the oversight and implementation of the recommendations in the IECR report, and potentially those of other external reviews.

In this report, Mme Therrien provides an overview of the implementation of recommendations under three themes: prevention; support to affected persons; and input and oversight. She also identifies areas that she will review more in-depth over the next six months. As Mme Therrien notes in the report’s conclusion, there is “a significant level of tangible activity within National Defence as it responds to the hundreds of recommendations from external reviews on sexual misconduct in CAF ranks.”

In addition to reporting on the work to implement recommendations contained in the IECR report, Mme Therrien highlights other initiatives currently underway that promote positive culture change and contribute to “moving the needle forward”, including the creation of the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture in 2021 that is “making a difference.”

The External Monitor’s mandate includes delivering progress reports to the Minister of National Defence relating to the implementation of the IECR recommendations, as well as a publicly releasable progress report every six months on the work being done by the DND/CAF to address sexual misconduct and harassment.

In a statement, Minister Anand welcomed this first status report and thanked Mme Therrien for her meticulous advice and oversight to provide external accountability to DND/CAF. The report is an important step to provide Canadians with updates regarding the implementation of Mme Arbour’s recommendations, and regular reports on an ongoing basis will help to ensure that DND/CAF deliver meaningful reforms to strengthen, grow, and improve the institution.

“I am extremely grateful for the hard work of leaders across our institution to change the culture in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, and to build a Defence Team where all members feel protected, respected, and empowered to serve. I sincerely thank Mme Therrien for her thorough work, and to all DND employees and CAF members who are contributing to this mission. Your efforts have made a difference, and together, we will keep going.” The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

“Mme Therrien’s first status report on the work we are doing to build an inclusive workplace affirms our commitment to being open and accountable on our efforts to implement external recommendations. Positive change is happening and work never stops to improve the Defence Team culture.” Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of National Defence

“Thank you to Mme Therrien for the diligent work and this report. The members of Canada’s military have a right to work in an environment where they are always treated with dignity and respect—any form of harassment or discrimination is an attack on this fundamental right. We have seen great momentum toward cultural growth within our institution, and we must continue to be seized by the need to have a workplace where everyone feels valued, protected, and able to apply their full range of talents, their diverse perspectives, and their authentic selves to be able to fully contribute to mission success. Ultimately, our institutional culture underpins our readiness and operational effectiveness, and these reports will help ensure we’re on the right track.” General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Fostering a healthy and high performing culture is a leadership responsibility. Humbly acknowledging and addressing harms while making positive improvements to workplace culture is of the utmost importance. This is an all of Defence Team effort and because we are stronger together, diversity of thought and unity of purpose are essential. Guided by external recommendations and feedback from our people, we will continue to press forward on shaping the Defence Team of the future.” Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

• The Independent External Comprehensive Review (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. Mme Arbour provided interim recommendations to the Minister of National Defence on October 20, 2021.

• The final Independent External Comprehensive Review report was made public on May 30, 2022.

• In December 2022, Defence Minister Anita Anand presented a Report to Parliament, outlining the steps that the Government of Canada would take to respond to all 48 recommendations included in the final Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review. DND/CAF continue to work on meaningful reform and culture change in response to the recommendations.

• On October 24, 2022, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced the appointment of Jocelyne Therrien as External Monitor to oversee DND/CAF’s efforts to implement IECR recommendations, delivering on IECR Recommendation 48.

• As a part of Budget 2021, National Defence allocated $236.2M in funding over the next five years to expand the department’s work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors. The funding included a proposal to enhance internal support services to victims, including access to free, independent legal advice and enabling affected individuals to access services without making a formal complaint.

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